John F. Enser (1898-1968)

John F. Enser (1898-1968)

Born in Ennis, Texas, John Enser moved to Chicago to study painting at the Academy of Fine Arts and the Art Institute, and sponsored himself by making illustrations for newspapers. In 1929 he came to Boston, where he struck up a close friendship with Hermann Dudley Murphy (1867-1945). Enser settled in Lexington and worked in a studio at the Murphy’s home.  In the mid – 1940s he married Dierdre Cotter, a young woman whom he had met when she was doing secretarial work for the Murphy’s.

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Enser was a gifted draftsman whose drawings were vigorous and naturalistic. However, what distinguished him from other landscape painters of his time and place was the bright palette he used.  Perhaps inspired by the brilliant but subtle colors of Texas, Enser used lavenders, pinks, yellows and greens to describe space and atmosphere. Rural New England proved a favorite area to paint as well as his native Texas. About Enser’s affinity for the New England landscape, an art critic from Boston’s Christian Science Monitor wrote, “…he paints the familiar New England scene with affection, usually stressing the gracious and amiable, rather than the rugged aspects of the countryside.” He especially loved the hills of southern New Hampshire, and was often referred to as the “Monadnock Painter,” having painted its many moods from all directions.

An influential teacher, Enser was a member of the faculty of the School of Practical Arts and Letters at Boston University, the Vesper George School and the Middlesex School in Concord. About his teaching career, Vose Galleries proprietor Robert Vose, Jr., wrote:

Although his production would seem a normal life’s work, nevertheless, he found time to teach continuously in many schools and in private classes for the past forty years! Thus he spread not only the warmth of his own personality, but the enjoyment of his contagious enthusiasm for his craft to hundreds of others.

In 1936 Enser won a prize at the annual exhibition of the Southern States Arts League. He exhibited oils and watercolors throughout the 1940s and 50s at the Guild of Boston Artists.  He also showed at the National Academy of Design, the Witte Museum in San Antonio, and at Vose Galleries.  Over the course of his career he traveled regularly to Texas and Mexico, and made a trip to England and Belgium in 1938 with Murphy and his wife, Nelly Littlehale. In 1962 he moved to New Ipswich, New Hampshire, where he continued painting and teaching until his death in 1968.

In 1970 the Guild mounted a memorial exhibition of Enser’s paintings.  In praise of Enser’s work, Robert C. Vose, Jr., commented:

John Enser was an artist who, in today’s vernacular, “painted it like it was.” We are fortunate that he did. He was not interested in the fads that came and went during his life time, but followed the sound, academic training he had received and absorbed so well in his art school days in his native Texas. Study in Chicago, Spain and with his patron and mentor H. Dudley Murphy in Lexington, Mass., provided him with the advanced skills necessary for a distinguished and successful career.

He was a member of the Boston Society of Water Color Painters, the Concord Art Association, the Copley Society of Boston, the Guild of Boston Artists, Grand Central Art Gallery, New York, the Salmagundi Club, the San Antonio Art League and the Texas Fine Arts Association. Hi work is included in the collections of the City Hall of Brockton, Massachusetts, the Cary Memorial Library, Lexington, the Monadnock Banks, New Hampshire, and Boston’s U. S. Post Office.

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