At the age of seventy-two, James Fitzgerald died suddenly in April 1971 while on a painting trip to Ireland on the island of Aranmore off the coast of Donegal. Some years before Fitzgerald had named his dear friends and patrons, Anne and Edgar Hubert, heirs of his estate. Fitzgerald left everything to the Huberts; they became executors of the Fitzgerald Estate, which comprised all his remaining artwork, as well as the buildings and contents of his home and studio on Monhegan, both built by Rockwell Kent in the first decade of the 20th century.
With no professional training in arts administration, but with enthusiasm, good instincts, and care, the Huberts embraced the task of instituting what would become in the years to come, Fitzgerald’s artistic legacy. They spent the next two years organizing and cataloguing the artist’s output of almost 1400 paintings and sketches—work that had been left behind in his house and studio.
They initiated a series of exhibitions of his work and held regular studio hours in his Monhegan studio, selling work to Monhegan Islanders and visitors alike, thus developing a following of dedicated private collectors. They worked tirelessly with galleries and museums to promote Fitzgerald’s work, helping to organize solo exhibitions in over twenty-five venues all across the United States in the years between 1973 and Anne Hubert’s death in 2004, and with natural grace and persistence managed to place his paintings in over twenty major American museum collections around the country. They also were successful in placing the two Kent buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, and made a gift of a treasure trove of his sketchbooks and papers to the Smithsonian Institution, Archives of American Art in Washington, DC.
In 2003, Anne Hubert announced the gift of the remaining Fitzgerald Estate to the Monhegan Museum. The James Fitzgerald Legacy was established and continues the work begun by the Huberts: to preserve, protect, and promote his work and continuing as stewards of the historic Rockwell Kent buildings. The Legacy, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, operates within the framework of the Monhegan Museum, and is comprised of dedicated volunteers and the Fitzgerald Legacy Committee:
Robert L. Stahl, M.D., Chairman
Daniel J. Broeckelmann
Susan Danly, Ph.D., M.A.
Edward L. Deci, Ph.D.
Carol A. Stahl
Since its inception in 2003, The Legacy’s work has focused on multiple activities, including:
Studio Tours at Fitzgerald’s Monhegan studio, scheduled twice weekly (as well as by special appointment) during the summer season, June through September, with new exhibitions of his work on display each year
Outreach to the growing family of James Fitzgerald supporters across the country through an annual newsletter, fundraising appeals, and email correspondence
Digitizing the Hubert’s catalogue records into a museum-level database and integrating that information into the Monhegan Museum’s computer records
Pursuing a scholarly approach to the research of his work, as well as plans for future exhibitions and publications, as well as
Collaborations with other galleries and museums to exhibit his work
Summer Internships—engaging the assistance of art historians and graduate student interns from New England colleges and universities
Website—developing and launching (in 2012) the James Fitzgerald website
Catalogue Raisonné Online to document as completely as possible all art works by James Fitzgerald, including The Legacy’s collection, work in public institutions, galleries, and private collections
Preserving the work through conservation as needed and museum standard archival storage
Stewardship of the Rockwell Kent buildings, which are both on the National Register of Historic Places, according to historic preservation standards,
The Legacy’s work is funded primarily by donations from individuals as well as by organizations and grants. Lend your support by making a donation to The James Fitzgerald Legacy.