Edward A. Page (1850-1928), American
Gas House Beach, Marblehead, 1921
oil on canvas, 10 in. x 14 in.
(framed dimensions, 14 ½ in. x 18 ¾ in. )
Signed lower left: “E.A. Page 1921”
A delightful American Impressionist painting of a coastal scene in Marblehead, Massachusetts by Edward A. Page, a member of the group of seven American painters known as The Lynn Beach Painters. This Cape Ann scene appears to be painted in one session juxtaposing bright pastel colors alongside darker olive greens and warm browns. An early New England home and its small patch of front yard are cast in shadow in the lower left half of the painting while the sun’s full light falls upon the adjacent shack with its brass weathervane, the larger white building behind it, the sandy road leading to the beach and the rocky outcropping beyond. The artist utilizes an impressionist palette, with lavenders, mauves and pale blue notes appearing in the shed and rocks, creams and pinks in the sandy lane and blue and pinkish grays in the sky. A few dramatic strokes of light green suggest light catching the tops of shrubbery while at the right two small wedges of light Prussian blue water and distant sailing vessels suggest Marblehead’s long maritime history.
The location is the northeastern tip of Marblehead Neck. The sandy dirt road in the foreground is Gas House Lane, which leads to the beach, named for the gas generating plant that burned coal there in the late 1800’s to create gas for the town’s street and house lamps. The antique home at the left in the painting is the Robert Wood house, built circa 1715. The house is also known by the moniker “The Spite House” due to an oddly shaped addition to the structure which is just out of view in this painting and is a bit of a Marblehead legend. A photograph taken circa 1895, from the vantage point of the beach, shows Gas House Lane, along with the Wood house and the shed in much the same condition as they appear in this painting (*see attached image). Today, the house still stands although it seems to have been re-sided and is now gray. Even some of the old shed’s timbers might be preserved in what is now a garage. I am indebted to Chris Johnston of the Marblehead Historical Commission for helping me to identify the exact location in this painting.
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Edward Page was born in Groveland, Massachusetts and grew up in the Dorchester and South Boston sections of Boston. After high school, he studied painting in the studios of George Morse, Frederick Porter Vinton, J. Foxcroft Cole and Thomas Robinson. Page moved to Lynn, Massachusetts in 1883 at which time he began to paint the beaches and seaside scenes of the region, a genre that would interest him his entire career. He learned Impressionist technique from the painters he had studied with in Boston as well as the paintings he saw there, and he utilized this style in his own work.
Page was one of a group of seven painters who have come to be called the Lynn Beach Painters, who painted the shoreline, tidal marshes, fish shacks and fishermen of the Lynn, Swampscott, Marblehead, Revere and Nahant beaches starting in the early 1880’s. The group included Charles Edwin Lewis Green, Nathaniel Leander Berry, Thomas Clarkson Oliver, Charles Herbert Woodbury, William Partridge Burpee, Edward Burrill, Jr. and Page. Of this group, Page remained the most committed to painting these coastal beach scenes which he did well into the 1920’s. Page also ventured further north to paint in Marblehead, Massachusetts and on Cape Ann as well as in Maine. He was a great friend of the painter Charles H. Woodbury and the pair painted together in Ogunquit, where Woodbury had established a summer school. At one time Page assisted Woodbury in conducting an art class for Boston schoolteachers. He also was a teacher in the Lynn public schools and the Lynn Evening School of Art.
Page’s obituary in 1928 noted that “Mr. Page made a specialty of such subjects as the old Swampscott fish houses and dories on the beach, ledges along our shores, the marshes and landscapes as well as still-life, figure and animal subjects. He was also an authority and collector of antiques and his home was the mecca of many an artist and collector … [In] Mr. page’s studio in Swampscott … he had a happy way of telling reminiscences of the many artists with whom he had held association.”
Page was married to a Mrs. Cherry Page but appears to have had no children. He died at his home in Swampscott, Massachusetts in 1928.
Edward Page exhibited at the Lynn Art Club, the Boston Art Club, the Salmagundi Club, the Worcester Art Museum and the Springfield Art Museum. He also held exhibits of antique furniture at the Lynn and Boston Historical Societies.
Page helped to form the Lynn Art Club in 1910 and was a regular prizewinner.
Two of his paintings hang in the Swampscott Public Library and are held in many private collections.
The painting is in excellent original condition. It retains its original stretchers and keys, there are no stretcher bar marks, the paint surface is clean, the colors are fresh and there are no repairs or inpainting present. There is one very small spot of paint loss at the extreme upper left corner of the painting where it meets the frame that is essentially irrelevant. The painting is housed in a fine custom 22/23 karat gold leaf frame by Guido.
Edward A. Page, Gas House Beach - Marblehead, oil on canvas, 1921