George Curtis (1826-1881)

George Curtis (1826-1881)

Painter of serene coasts and vessels on calm seas from Cape Cod to the Bay of Fundy, George Curtis was an important figure in the New England luminist tradition of painting in the mid-nineteenth century. His work has only recently been re-examined by art historians in the 1993 Peabody Essex Museum exhibition, “George Curtis: Coming to Light.” However, during his lifetime Curtis enjoyed critical acclaim and a long and productive career. By the 1840s, his seascapes were prized among prominent collectors and his reputation grew to national significance. 

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Curtis was also very much a part of the vital Boston art scene, working as a theater set painter at the Boston Museum for many years, living in the artistic heart of the city on Tremont Row, and showing his work at the Boston Art Club and Williams and Everett Galleries. He also exhibited regularly at the Boston Athenaeum alongside William Bradford, Martin Johnson Heade and Fitz Henry Lane.

From the early luminists, especially Lane, Curtis derived his own unique style. His paintings are distinguished by bright atmospheric effects, a strong color palette, and clear compositions.

References: “George Curtis: Coming to Light”, Oct. 1993, Vol. 129, No. 4, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.

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