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On the Beach

Edward Potthast is remembered for his bright and breezy scenes of turn-of-the-century beachgoers. His art underwent a dramatic change about 1910 as he abandoned an early focus on rural figure subjects for scenic landscape and leisure scenes, enlivening his brushwork and brightening his palette in a shift toward an Impressionist aesthetic. From that time on, he produced numerous paintings of pleasure seekers at the seaside (often Boston's North Shore), chronicling a leisure activity newly popular among city dwellers liberated from restrictive social mores and increasingly aware of the salutary effects of fresh air and physical exercise. In 1915 the Brooklyn Museum made a very progressive purchase of two of these paintings, displayed on the screen--Bathers and On the Beach. Rocks and Sea is a late work, reflecting Potthast's turn to decorative images of more remote coastlines that was perhaps influenced by Childe Hassam's Impressionist interpretations of the New England coast like Poppies on the Isles of Shoals (displayed nearby.)


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