David Philip Curtis (1950-2021), American
“Old Pasture”, Gloucester, Mass., 1987
oil on canvas, 16 in. x 20 in.
(framed dimensions: 22 ½ in. x 26 ¼ in.)
signed lower right: “DAVID CURTIS”
also signed and titled reverse: “DAVID P. CURTIS “OLD PASTURE” 87 GLOUCESTER”
A pleasing, vibrant and colorful New England landscape evocative of summer on Cape Ann. Curtis eschews the typical Gloucester motifs and instead turns inward toward a landscape that could be representative of many Massachusetts towns. In the foreground, a small brook leads the eye up and across a gently rising and verdant hillside dotted with copses of trees and a few scattered glacial boulders, all beneath a calm blue sky. I don’t know where exactly the artist set up his easel, but one possibility is Squam Rock Pasture in the Annisquam area. To me, this painting pays homage to some degree to Dennis Bunker’s Medfield paintings of a century before.
Curtis successfully captured the effect of sunlight on canvas by following the principles he learned and taught – to build the painting on closely observed “values” ranging from the darkest dark to the lightest light, in this case the cool dark shadows beneath the foreground trees and the bright note of the sun on the Unitarian Church’s roof. As all good plein air painters know, the brightest colors in nature cannot be reproduced in oil paint – but the quality of atmosphere and outdoor light can be created by a close attention to values within a defined range.
David Curtis was born in Brookline, Massachusetts. He started painting early under the tutelage of both his father, marine painter Roger W. Curtis, and his uncle Howard Curtis. He attended weekend classes at the Massachusetts College of Art and after high school he spent a summer studying at the Boston Museum School and in the fall of that year (1968) attended the Vesper George School of Art in Boston. Early in 1969, he began working under the Boston School scion R.H. Ives Gammell and remained with him until June 1971. Curtis returned to Gammell later in 1974 and remained with him until 1975. He also studied part-time with another Gammell disciple, Robert Douglas Hunter.
Curtis lived in Gloucester with his family. In addition to his own painting output, he taught outdoor oil painting classes and workshops on Cape Ann and throughout New England and Virginia from 1993 up until the Covid outbreak and David’s subsequent passing in 2021. He is remembered not only as a very accomplished plein air painter but as a generous teacher who encouraged and befriended many students over the years.
Member: Guild of Boston Artists (also Board of Managers); North Shore Arts Association (also past Chairman of Arts & Exhibition Committee); Rockport Art Association (also past President)
Awards: 2019 Charles Movalli Award and Gold Medal for Excellence in Painting; 2019 Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award; Yankee Magazine Robb Sagendorph Memorial Award (Copley Society of Boston); (2) A.T. Hibbard Memorial Awards for Landscape (Rockport Art Association); (2) Frank Benson Awards (Guild of Boston Artists); (2) Marguerite Neuhauser Shafer Memorial Awards (North Shore Arts Association)
Condition: the painting is in excellent condition. It is clean, the colors are vibrant and there is no craquelure nor any other defects present. The gessoed gilt wood frame with scrolling foliate motif is of a nice quality and is likewise in excellent condition with only minor wear / patina on some of the high points.
David Philip Curtis, "Old Pasture", Gloucester, MA, 1987, oil on canvas
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