Provincetown Fisherman (Cleaning Fish)

Charles W. Hawthorne (American, 1872-1930)

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The stately composition and solid forms give the subject a dignity not often associated with fish markets. Hawthorne's green-toned palette evokes the sea and emphasizes by contrasting color the bloody business at hand.

This man was a Portuguese resident of the Cape Cod village where Hawthorne spent most of his career.

The artist; William Macbeth Galleries; IMA in 1916

Charles Webster Hawthorne and New England: Scenes of Daily Life

Hawthorne grew up in Maine among the seafaring people who were to become his major subjects. He attended the Art Students League in New York and Chase’s summer school at Shinnecock Hills, Long Island. Hawthorne was both student and teaching associate of William Merritt Chase, and traveled with him to Holland in 1898. There, Hawthorne was influenced by the Old Masters, including Titian and Rembrandt, and especially the dark tonalities and fluid brushwork of the seventeenth century painter Frans Hals. Much of the Old Master’s style can be seen in Hawthorne’s work, particularly his images of Provincetown fishermen. Hawthorne ran a summer school in Provincetown called the Cape Cod School of Art for more than thirty years. The Cape Cod School of Art was the first outdoor summer school for figure painting and grew into one of the nation's leading art schools. He taught his students how to convey character and personality in their work and the importance of direct observation. His own work combines a robust realism with just enough impressionistic touches to enliven his portraits. Hawthorne saw beauty in commonplace things and ordinary people, and he gave his subjects grandeur reminiscent of Renaissance painting.

Hawthorne’s favorite subjects were the rugged Yankee and Portuguese fishermen of New England. In Provincetown Fisherman, Hawthorne depicted a Portuguese resident of the Cape Cod village. Careful modeling and drawing show Hawthorne’s grounding in traditional academic principles. The picture’s stately composition and solid, weighty forms give the subject a dignity and grandeur not often associated with the fish market. Hawthorne’s green-toned palette subtly evokes the sea and emphasizes by contrast the bloody business at hand.

Muhlberger, Richard. Charles Webster Hawthorne: Paintings and Watercolors. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2000.

Object Information

Charles W. Hawthorne (American, 1872-1930)
creation date
about 1912
oil on wall board
56 x 63 in. (board)
64 x 71 x 4 in. (framed)
mark descriptions
Signed, u.l.: C. W. Hawthorne
accession number
credit line
Daniel P. Erwin Fund
Public Domain
American Painting and Sculpture to 1945

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