Charles H. Rathbone, Jr. opens at Martha Richardson Fine Art, Boston

  • BOSTON, Massachusetts
  • /
  • May 12, 2011

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Charles Rathbone, Filets Bleu


Martha Richardson Fine Art, Boston and Colleene Fesko Works of Art are pleased to announce the opening of an exhibition of works by the Charles H. Rathbone, Jr. (1902-1936).  The exhibition (May 14-June 25) includes paintings, watercolors and drawings done in Brittany and Martha’s Vineyard.

     Charles H. Rathbone’s life, though brief, was marked by professional and critical success, both as an artist and as a writer.  During his short career, Rathbone’s paintings were exhibited at major museums and art clubs including the Brooklyn Museum, the National Academy of Design, the Salmagundi Club, the Whitney Studio Club, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art, among others. Art gallery shows drew glowing reviews: “The work is spontaneous and fresh, with well-considered arabesque of pattern and excellent color” and “There is a poetic quality and mystical fervor to certain land and seascapes…”

      Rathbone studied at the Art Students League where he met his wife, the sculptor Martha Moore.  The couple led a varied and exciting life. In New York, they entertained artists, musicians and other social luminaries including Noel Coward and George Gershwin.  The whirlwind of urban high society contrasted with their summers in the quiet fishing village of Concarneau. In his paintings of the bustling Breton harbors and those of Martha’s Vineyard where his wife’s family had a home, Rathbone captured the sun sparkling on the water and the elegance of the shadows cast on its rippling surface.  In Brittany, they formed lasting friendships with the artists Hayley Lever and Jonas Lie.

Charles Rathbone, Menemsha Harbor
Martha Richardson Fine Art

     In 1929, Rathbone was one of the founders of the Fifteen Gallery, an artist’s exhibition cooperative formed in New York that included Ogden Pleissner, Andrew Schwartz and Isabel Whitney.  In the 1930’s, while the artist continued to develop his skills as a painter, he began to write. Rathbone published a number of short stories inspired by several winter trips to the Caribbean and in 1935, he earned an honorable mention at the prestigious O. Henry Awards.

      Following Rathbone’s death in an automobile accident at age 33, Montross Galleries held a memorial exhibition of his work that brought further acclaim: “evidence of honest, vital painting” (Boston Transcript), “quiet, capable work” (New York Times), “picturesque scenes of Brittany, painted with a lyrical warmth and a romantic point of view” (New York American).

      Rathbone has been described as a bon vivant, an optimistic and extroverted adventurer, a witty conversationalist and a raconteur.  Yet his craftsmanship as a painter and the polish of his prose suggest a seriousness of purpose and the dedication of an artist determined to capture the essence of his subjects. It is fascinating to speculate how this combination might have played out over a longer lifetime.

Charles Rathbone, Penmarch Light
Martha Richardson Fine Art

            Martha Richardson Fine Art is located at 38 Newbury St., Boston.  For further information, please contact the gallery at 617-266-3321 or visit our web site at

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