Spanierman Gallery, LLC is pleased to announce the opening on June 7, 2012 of Edith Prellwitz and Henry Prellwitz: Painters of Peconic. The exhibition and sale presents the art of this married couple who were the leading figures in the artists’ colony that formed in the early twentieth century in Peconic, on Long Island’s North Shore. Both were painters of seasonal, Impressionist-inspired landscapes, figural images, and allegorical works influenced by their many years of academic training. Romantic and gentle in spirit, their art evokes an era when artistic expression was the highest form of intellectual discourse. The exhibition will be accompanied by an online catalogue by Lisa N. Peters, available at:
As a husband-and-wife team who were both successful and mutually supportive, Edith Mitchill Prellwitz (1864-1944) and Henry Prellwitz (1865-1940) were a rare entity in the art world of their time. They had parallel careers before they were married, and afterward they encouraged and inspired each other, celebrating each of their achievements and delighting in lives dedicated to art. Both were acclaimed by the critics and respected by their colleagues, and both were active in many of the noted artists’ organizations of their day. Forgotten in the decades following their deaths in the 1940s, the artists have recently been the subject of scholarly attention, beginning with an exhibition in 1995 at The Art Museum, The Museums at Stony Brook (now the Long Island Museum of American Art, History, and Carriages), curated by the late Ronald G. Pisano.
After careers which included study in Paris for both artists, they were part of the artists’ colony at Cornish, New Hampshire, to which Henry had been initially invited by his teacher and mentor Thomas Dewing. Between 1894 and 1899, they joined Dewing, his wife Maria, as well as other artists including Augustus Saint Gaudens and Charles Platt in gatherings that included creating dramatic tableaux and outdoor expeditions. Among the works in the show are two that Edith created in Cornish, including Sketchy Landscape, Cornish, where her subtle color and broad treatment of forms engage the viewer in an awareness of the lushness of the landscape. Her Seated Lady in a Garden is in impressionist spirit, depicting a female figure in a flowing gown who leans against a tree while drawing or painting the scene before her. The canvas suggests the idea that it is necessary for artists to absorb themselves in nature to capture its essence.
After their Cornish cottage was struck by lightning and burned, the couple chose to spend summers on Peconic at the northern end of Long Island. There they became central figures in a small artists’ colony and enjoyed a harmonious existence in their house overlooking the bay, where they had side-by-side studios.
In Peconic, Henry turned from a focus on figural images in the manner of Dewing to rendering landscapes in a style merging elements of tonalism and impressionism. He drew his subjects from his immediate surroundings, making use of a sharpie boat he had turned into an “aquatic studio.” Of Henry’s works in the show, Garden Seat perhaps evokes the spirit of the artists’ daily life in Peconic best. The subject is the view from the artists’ Peconic home looking toward the bay. Henry’s tonal approach and the lithe movement of his brush express the quiet and calming feeling of this vista. Peconic Bay was also one of Henry’s favorite motifs. He often painted scallop dredgers sailing across its waters and old docks with their weathered pilings. A subject that the artist found particularly mesmerizing was that of nightfall on the bay, and he recorded a particularly dramatic night sky in Swirling Clouds in the Moonlight, Peconic, capturing the magical and heightened sense of life in Peconic that the artists shared. The frozen landscape of Peconic in winter also provided Henry with the impetus for some of his most abstract works. Reducing his scenes to broad areas of water, land, and sky, he created quiet arrangements devoid of human activity or architectural reference. Working directly, he captured the feelings he received from nature in images of the dunes and creeks of Peconic.
While Edith continued to create allegorical works in Peconic, she also felt compelled by the beauty of her surroundings, producing pure landscapes that express the emotions that her sites evoked. Her works range from a view of a serene harbor, where the forms of houses and pilings are distinct, to a hazy, abstract image in the manner of Whistler, to a scene of a secluded bay lit romantically by both lingering daylight and the rising moon. Such works convey the artists’ absorption in their lives in Peconic in a poetic experience, as they contemplated the mystical and spiritual presence underlying the natural world.
Edith Prellwitz & Henry Prellwitz: Painters of the Peconic
June 7–July 7, 2012
Contact: Christine Berry (email@example.com)
Gallery Hours: Monday-Saturday 9:30-5:30