Edward Potthast began painting beach scenes relatively late in life, yet they have become his most celebrated works. His artistic legacy is "a tribute to the carefree atmosphere of the seashore: happy children rollicking about, splashing in the surf, young mothers with children in their arms or beside their breeze-blown skirts, gossiping or strolling the beach; and family groups, picnicking, sunning themselves or chatting merrily on the sand beside gaily colored beach umbrellas" (Arlene Jacobwitz, Edward Henry Potthast: 1857 to 1927, 1969).
Potthast was one of several artists to come from Cincinnati, counting among his colleagues John Henry Twachtman, Frank Duveneck, and Henry Farny. He studied in Europe at the Academié Julian, and eventually moved from Cincinnati to New York in 1892. He spent many summers traveling along the New England coastline, visiting the beaches of Monhegan and Ogunquit Islands in Maine, as well as Gloucester and Rockport in Massachusetts. When it wasn't possible to travel up the coast, Potthast would take his paints and canvases to study the nearby crowds at Coney Island and Far Rockaway.
Potthast's beach scenes capture the carefree nature of a beautiful summer's day spent relaxing on the shore. In the present work, the colorful umbrellas and puffy clouds dominate the left side of the composition, while bathers wade in the distanct crashing surf. Loose brushwork and unusual colors lend the painting a modern vitality. Though a quiet and modest man, Potthast's beach scenes brought him great acclaim during his lifetime, and have created a lasting legacy.
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