During his early career, Bricher made sketching trips through the Catskills in New York and the White Mountains of New Hampshire, but by the mid-1870s he shifted his concentration to marine paintings and found a wealth of inspiration along the shores of Canada and the picturesque New England coastline from Rhode Island to Maine. As his work progressed, he adopted a Luminist technique and began to contemplate the atmospheric elements of the scene before him, but stayed true to his realist approach to painting.
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The work of one of the original Luminists, Martin Johnson Heade, likely inspired Bricher’s first excursion to Narragansett, Rhode Island, in 1871, while later visits to the state took him to Sakonnet beginning in the mid-1890s and to the island of Conanicut at the turn of the century. Conanicut Cliffs illustrates the artist’s remarkable talent for capturing the movement of water breaking against the shore and the play of light and shadow on the rocky bluff. These elements of Bricher’s work often drew comparisons to the seascapes of his contemporary William Trost Richards who, interestingly, called Conanicut home until 1899, when the American government seized private land for the construction of Fort Wetherill. It is not known whether Bricher and Richards interacted during their lifetimes other than taking part in exhibitions at the National Academy of Design, yet their career trajectories followed eerily similar paths as both first worked on landscapes painted in the Hudson River School style before turning their attention to the power and beauty of the sea.
Barridoff Auction, Portland, Maine, November 1980
To private collection, Palm Beach, Florida, November 1980
With Vose Galleries, Boston, inventory no. 26504, January 1981
To private collection, Little Compton, Rhode Island, January 1981 to present
1). (in pencil on top stretcher) Conanicut Cliffs, [Bricher]
2). (in black on right stretcher) 123 / 19
Previous Vose Galleries label, inventory no. 26504