Constance Cochrane (1888-1962), American
"Surf At Little Whitehead, Monhegan", 1924
oil on board, 12 in. x 15 in.
(framed dimensions: 16.5 in. x 19.5 in.)
signed lower left: "Constance Cochrane"
This painting is a classic and vibrant example of this artist's work. Powerful Atlantic waves crash against the rocks along Monhegan Island's eastern shore, with the accompanying shower of salt water spray and foam. The painting is a feast for the eyes both in color and paint texture. The sky, pale cerulean; below that, the powerful surge of water in turquoise, pale greens and blues; the foam an explosion of lavender and creamy white; the rocks rendered in an array of purples, a few splashes of orange-ochre where the sunlight catches the tops of some rocks. Throughout, the fluid paint is applied in a frenzy of lush, bold strokes using paint loaded bristle brushes. The dramatic diagonal composition helps emphasize depth and brings dynamism. Adding to the painting's appeal is the frame - a work of art in its own right. Hand carved and gilt in the Arts and Crafts style, it was created by the artist's mother. In her early 60s, Elizabeth Lull Cochrane learned and mastered the art of frame making, sharing her daughter's studio on Monhegan. She created high quality hand carved frames to embellish her daughter's paintings. The frame is signed on the reverse with the mother's hand carved monogram "ELC".
Constance Cochrane was born in 1888 at the U.S. Navy Base in Pensacola. Her father was a Marine Corps Brigadier General and her brother a Vice Admiral in the U.S. Navy. Constance herself joined the navy briefly during both world wars, designing camouflage for navy ships. She had a lifelong connection with and love for the sea. Constance began painting at a young age; after high school she studied at the Philadelphia School of Design for Women (major: illustration) under Elliott Daingerfield and Henry Snell. She later said that Daingerfield "broadened [her] field and ambition to include color, and ultimately to paint the sea". Always interested in promoting the work of women artists, Cochrane became a founding member of "The Philadelphia Ten" in 1917, remaining a part of this group until 1945. Constance lived in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania and had a studio at the family home "Bywood". Starting in 1921, she began visiting Monhegan Island every summer to paint, and with her mother's help, eventually built her own home / studio on the island know as "Anchor Ledge". Although Cochrane painted in the Caribbean, Cape Cod, New England and Philadelphia, her heart was on Monhegan. She was proficient in watercolor as well as oils and in addition to her lively seascapes she was know for her vibrant, glowing still lifes. A 1929 newspaper article on The Ten exhibition in Philadelphia that year related that Ms. Cochrane "finds adventure and thrill aplenty on Monhegan Island .. where the waters of the North Atlantic boil around shark-toothed ledges and charge against stubborn granite cliffs... Her picture 'Storm Tide' was painted in such a gale that she could not keep her easel up so lashed her canvas to a great rock and crouched behind it to paint". Cochrane was also a member of the National Association of Women Painters and Sculptors, the Philadelphia Art Alliance, the New York Watercolor Society and was Director of the Delaware County Art Association.
*The painting offered here is essentially identical in composition to a larger one (25.5 in. x 30 in.) she painted two years later in 1926, titled "Might and Majesty", which was exhibited in the traveling exhibition of The Phildelphia Ten in 1998 organized by the Westmoreland Museum of Art. It's apparent that this smaller, earlier work, "Surf at Little Whitehead, Monhegan". served as inspiration for the larger work.
The painting is in very good condition. There appear to be 3 small areas of inpaint when viewed with a blacklight: all located lower left of center area. Two areas about 1/2 in. each in diameter, the third in the rocks about 1/8 in. in size. There are a few scuffed areas at the extreme top edge which I believe date to the painting's creation as they appear to be created when the paint was still wet (easel clips?). The frame is in excellent condition with a few small and scattered areas of gilding loss which is unobtrusive. There is a label on the reverse with painting's title "Surf at Little Whitehead, Monhegan" and artist's address in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania. There is also a date of "1924" inscribed on the Russell Canvas Board label.
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Constance Cochrane painting, "Surf At Little Whitehead, Monhegan", oil on board
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