SPOTLIGHT: June 1, 2022

George Bellows

American artist George Bellows (1882-1925), focused almost half of his oeuvre of approximately five hundred and fifty paintings on the sea, far removed from the urban scenes of New York City for which he is most celebrated. Created primarily in the summer during trips to the coast of Maine and its offshore islands in 1911, 1913, 1914, and 1916, the canvases reflect the artist’s successful explorations of modern painting.

The shipyard in Camden, Maine, drew in Bellows like a magnet, especially the huge wooden skeleton that was being erected, “pushing its great curved timbers to the sky.” This structure furnished the theme for six major canvases including the museum’s painting, Shipyard, created in August, 1916.

Related works are in the collections of the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland, Maine, and the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven, Connecticut.

The artist said of these pictures:

“When I paint the beginning of a ship at Camden, I feel the reverence the ship builder has for his handiwork. He is creating something splendid, to master wind and wave, something as fine and powerful as nature’s own forces…”

Carl Weyerhaeuser acquired the painting in 1957. It is likely that his attraction to the canvas harkened back to the family lumber business and reverence for wooden structures. However, he was equally intrigued by how many hands came together in order to create a seaworthy vessel.

After acquiring the painting, Carl received this note from Bellow’s widow, Emma S. Bellows:

Dear Mr. Weyerhaeuser,

“Shipyard” has always been a great favorite of mine—with its prow flung against the blue sky like a racehorse tossing its head—rearing to go. Hope you and your family will enjoy it as much as I have.

I am most cordially,
Emma S. Bellows

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925)
Shipyard, 1916
Oil on canvas, 43.375 x 33.5 in