Annual Letter 2013

Dear Friends of James Fitzgerald,

The James Fitzgerald Legacy has had a busy and productive 2013. Of particular note has been the growth of interest in his work beyond Monhegan.

Of great excitement was the announcement this summer of a major gift by Charles J. & Irene Hamm to the New Britain Museum of American Art. Their gift, encompassing 165 works, as well as a substantial endowment, focuses on coastal art and includes several by Fitzgerald. The press release showed an image of his oil painting “Frank Pierce Cutting Fish” alongside works by William Partridge Burpee, Thomas Birch, Thomas Hart Benton, and Rockwell Kent. This amazing donation complements and greatly expands the holdings of the New Britain Museum of American Art, which received a lovely watercolor “Pegs” from Anne & Ed Hubert in 1987. The strength and masculinity of the Frank Pierce oil contrasts nicely with the very gentle and sensitive nude of Fitzgerald’s wife as she bathes at Point Lobos, California shortly after their marriage.

This summer also marked the publication of an excellent, in-depth book by David Little entitled “Art of Katahdin” (Down East Publishers). The book opens with an appreciation of the ‘masters’ of Katahdin, starting with Frederick Church, and features several of the mid- 20th century artists who visited the remote peak. There is a chapter on Fitzgerald in this section, alongside ones on Carl Sprinchorn and Marsden Hartley. Included are twelve reproductions of Fitzgerald’s work, nine of which are from the Fitzgerald Legacy collection. Katahdin was Fitzgerald’s Mont Sainte-Victoire, and these images highlight the depth of his powers of observation for a favorite subject.

This year, the list of American museums known to have Fitzgerald holdings was expanded to include the Anchorage Museum, Alaska, which received two watercolors from the Alaska Railroad Corporation in 1986. These works had been commissioned by the WPA in the 1930s. In addition, Carol and I enjoyed visiting the Asheville Art Museum, N.C., which purchased a watercolor from Vose Gallery in 1958 entitled “Seiners, The Herring Net.” It depicts several Monhegan fishermen pulling their nets onto Fish Beach with Manana in the background, and has been exhibited on a regular basis there.

Studio hours continued this year on Monhegan, again thanks to Dan Broeckelmann. We are planning a new exhibit for 2014, and hope as many of you as possible will visit next summer.

We continue our work on the Catalogue Raisonnee project, and encourage those of you who live with Fitzgerald work to please be in touch so we can discuss obtaining high resolution digital images.

The loyal support of the Friends of Fitzgerald is crucial to the work of the James Fitzgerald Legacy. Please be as generous as you can, knowing that every bit of your gift goes to support our program. With best wishes from all of us for this holiday season and for peace, happiness and compassion in the New Year,

– Robert L. Stahl, Chair, for The James Fitzgerald Legacy: Dan Broeckelmann, Ed Deci, Gail Scott, and Carol Stahl