The Museum is excited to announce the acquisition of George Bellow’s Green Breaker, an oil on panel that the artist created on Maine’s Monhegan Island in 1913. The painting was given by G. Remak Ramsay, an actor who has spent many summers in Maine. Green Breaker is the first oil painting by Bellows to enter the Museum’s collection and complements well other modernist paintings created on Monhegan by artists such as Rockwell Kent and Leon Kroll. We are deeply grateful for this generous gift.
Born in Ohio, Bellows moved to New York City in 1904 at age twenty-two to pursue a career as an artist. Much influenced by Robert Henri, his mentor at the New York School of Art, he was associated with a new generation of artists who became known as the Ashcan School for their interest in depicting the unvarnished urban scene.
In the spring of 1913, Bellows helped to organize the now-famous Armory Show, which introduced Cubism, Fauvism, and other forms of European modernism to American audiences. Wearied from that work and desolate following the death of his father in March, he, his wife Emma, and young daughter Anne ventured in July to Monhegan for several months of time away from the city.
The island proved an inspirational setting, and he completed many important paintings that summer. In a letter to Henri in October—written on the day that he completed Green Breaker—Bellows remarked that “October which has been hailed and advertised as the great month of the year has been one continual wet blanket. There has been just one day that amounted to anything, when we had a tremendous sea and clear sunshine. The water looking like a raging snowstorm.” With thickly-applied paint that is as much shaped as it is brushed onto the panel, Bellows captures well the raw energy of the ocean. Lessons drawn from the Armory Show informed the composition and signaled a new chapter in the artist’s career.
We welcome you to see this beautiful painting on May 9th during a special program at the Museum devoted to recent acquisitions.