Gorge and Sea was painted in 1911 during the first of Bellows’ three trips to Monhegan Island, Maine. Bellows noted his initial impressions of the island in a letter to his wife, calling it: “the most wonderful country ever modeled by the hand of the master architect. The Island is only a mile wide and two miles long, but it looks as large as the Rocky Mountains.” This celebration of the Maine landscape finds its parallel in the work of Winslow Homer, whose seascapes of the rugged Maine coast enthralled viewers from the 1890s onward.
Bellows’ technique, which is characterized by powerful, energetic brushstrokes, was an excellent match for the rugged nature of Monhegan Island. Such qualities were not lost on contemporary viewers, many of whom had begun to reject academic art as effeminate and dainty, opting instead for a style and subject matter that connoted physical activity and thus masculinity. Bellows’ own comments reinforce this approach: “I feel a great pride in working so hard, in getting stronger and stronger, in being browned by the sun and hardened by work . . . I tramped all over the ocean rocks . . . and the basket ball shoes clutch the cliffs like a fly’s feet.”
Place object was created: United States
oil paint, canvas
Measurements: frame height: 45 inches frame width: 36.75 inches frame depth: 3 inches canvas height: 34 inches canvas width: 26 inchesGift of the Mint Museum Auxiliary 1983.35
Currently on view at Mint Museum UPTOWN