Woodbury’s teaching philosophy emphasized expression and careful observation of one’s subject: “The actual manipulation of the brush is a skillful matter, and yet it requires more intelligence than manual dexterity. Art is psychology, not science, and there must be one unknown factor, the personal equation. You must know what you see, why you see, and what is worth seeing.” These attributes are clearly shown in Dunes – Two Figures, in which groupings of beachgoers are defined with the artist’s vigorous brushwork, eliminating the need for including every detail.
 Woodbury, Charles H. Painting and the Personal Equation. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1919, p. 95.
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Ogunquit, Maine, became Woodbury’s primary home in 1897, and the school which he subsequently established there helped to shape the town as a major artists’ colony. Ogunquit drew artists as well as tourists to its shores, and beachgoers played an integral part of Woodbury’s work, as noted by Charles F. Kelley in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston’s 1945 exhibition catalogue: “Another outstanding characteristic was his constant use of figures in his compositions, but they were no mere human vegetables placed wherever an accent was needed, – they were always actively doing something, echoing or building up the mood of the composition.” Working with nearly 100 students each summer, Woodbury taught by example and individual criticism, and eventually published three books: Painting and the Personal Equation (1919), Observation: Visual Training through Drawing (1922), and The Art of Seeing: Mental Training through Drawing (1925).
In addition to the Boston Art Club and the National Academy of Design, Woodbury was a member of the Society of American Artists, the New York Water Color Club, the Boston Society of Water Color Painters and the Guild of Boston Artists. Today his work can be found in several museum collections, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, Maine, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University.
 Kelley, Charles Fabens. Charles Herbert Woodbury: Exhibition of Oils and Water Colors. Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1945, exhibition catalogue, p. 7
Estate of the artist
With Vose Galleries, Boston, inventory no. W-39, 1978
To private collection, Wellesley, Massachusetts, April 1979 to 2020
By descent to the widow of the above, private collection, Osterville, Massachusetts, 2020 to present
- (verso of board) 21 Dunes – Two Figures / 1933 / 6
- (verso of board, upside down) DOW
- Previous Vose Galleries label, inventory no. W-39
- Estate stamp verso of board
- (possibly) Rochester Athenaeum, Rochester, New York, 1939
- Charles H. Woodbury, N.A. (1864-1940), Vose Galleries, Boston, From September 26, 1978