Arts and Leisure

Flashback Photo: Charles Woodbury Paints a Red Bathing Suit

Charles Woodbury, The Red Bathing Suit

Charles Woodbury, The Red Bathing Suit

Charles Woodbury painted in quick, sure strokes, according to his maxim: “Paint in verbs, not nouns.”

The Red Bathing Suit’ above is typical Woodbury: an energetic, shimmering work painted in one of his favorite spots, a pool on the coast of Ogunquit, Maine. The subject is one of three girls who wore red bathing suits so their father could keep an eye on them while they played in the water.

From his teenage years throughout his life, Charles Woodbury enjoyed remarkable success as a painter of seascapes and coastal villages.

Charles Woodbury was born July 14, 1864 in Lynn, Mass. He took a full load of courses at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology — all the while exhibiting paintings. He was largely self-taught. At 19, he became the youngest member of the Boston Art Club.

Charles Woodbury

Charles Woodbury

Woodbury graduated from MIT with a degree in mechanical engineering, but he never had to use his degree for a day job. From early on he was a member of the Lynn Beach Painters, an often-overlooked school of art, painting the coast from New England to Nova Scotia.

He studied in Paris and Holland while in his late 20s, then established a winter studio in Boston. He spent summers in Ogunquit, Maine, a small fishing village on the coast. Later in life he spent winters in the Caribbean, painting watercolors and sailing from island to island.

Woodbury started a summer art school in Ogunquit that continued on after his death on Jan. 21, 1940.

His work can be viewed in Boston at the Museum of Fine Arts, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and the Harvard University Art Museums; at the Addison Gallery of American Art, in Andover, Mass.; in Maine at the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, the Portland Museum of Art and the Bowdoin College Museum of Art in Brunswick; in New Hampshire at the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester; and in Rhode Island at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence.

With thanks to Avery Galleries. Photo of Charles Woodbury by unknown photographer. 


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