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Emile Albert Gruppe (1896-1978)

Winter Stream

Oil on canvas,  20 x 24 in


Gruppe comments on the above scene regarding creating depth in a landscape:

"The river bed narrows … The largest tree is on the bank nearest us, and the trees get smaller as they recede. The largest area of snow is at our feet, and the areas get smaller as they go back into the picture. An especially important part of the design is the snow-covered rock in the lower left corner. It’s a nice, big shape and gives you a standard to judge all the smaller patches of snow up-river. Cover the rock with your hand and see how the picture suddenly looks much flatter; there’s less feeling of distance". (From Gruppe on Painting, 1976, p. 119)

Born in 1896 the son of renowned tonalist painter Charles Paul Gruppe, Emile Gruppe became one of the 20th century’s masters of New England seascapes and landscapes. In addition to being raised by an artistic father, he was also educated in art at The Hague in the Netherlands and in New York City at the National Academy of Design and The Arts Students League. He also received instruction from artists George Bridgeman, Charles Chapman, Richard Miller and John F. Carlson. Throughout his career Gruppé exhibited at the major national annuals, including those of the National Academy of Design, where he made his debut in 1915. His paintings were also shown at the Connecticut Academy of Fine Arts, the North Shore Art Association, the Rockport Art Association, where they won numerous awards and prizes. In 1942, he founded the Gruppe Summer School in Gloucester with his mentors.

Gruppe painted numerous works throughout his long artistic career, as many as 200 hundred oils a year. He is best known for his impressionistic landscapes of Vermont, painted figures and portraits, and especially for his Gloucester and Rockport harbor and village scenes. For the majority of his professional career, he worked and lived in Gloucester, Massachusetts, often wintering in Vermont and Florida.

During this time, Gruppé adopted a more direct and personal mode of painting in which he combined a dynamic brand of Realism with the light and atmospheric concerns of Impressionism. This later work is sought after for its distinctive, vigorous brushwork, compositional qualities and refined color values. Gruppe lived a long and prolific life, passionate about his art and about sharing the joys and skills of visual creativity with future generations. In one of his last interviews he revealed his philosophy of painting: "If you want exacting details in a painting, than you might as well look at a photograph. I make an impression on a canvas, and let one's imagination fill in the details." He died in 1978 at the age of 82 after a lifetime of painting.

Gruppe's works can be found in the Richmond Art Museum, the Hickory Museum of Art, Springville Museum of Art, Whistler House Museum of Art, and more. His works are now highly collectible and have brought dramatic prices near $60,000 at auction.


 Blue Hill Bay Gallery   11 Tenney Hill, Blue Hill, Maine 04614