Plein Air Painting "Hilltop Overlook" by Mountfort Coolidge (1888-1954)
Oil on Canvas / 8 x 10 inches
Estate stamp on verso
Mountfort Coolidge was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1888 and was a pupil of Robert Henri's. In the early teens he travelled with his family to Ogunquit, Maine, then already a thriving artist's community, and became a student of Hamilton Faster Field's. He continued to summer in Ogunquit for over 40 years, and was associated with such artists as Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Niles Spencer, Marsden Hartley, LIoyd Goodrich, Bernard Karfiol, and was often associated with the flamboyant society painter Channing Hare, with whom he operated a small antiques business.
The two men shared a home on Pine Hill North where among Hare's household treasures was a not-so-housebroken but very handsome black and white Belgian hare. OAA members Channing Hare and Mountfort Coolidge, although respected and successful painters In their own right, were identified more with the summer society life than it's art colony by many artists and local residents. Close friends, fellow artists and even business partners, the two men were synonymous with glamour, flamboyance, and chic. Despite Hare's seeming preoccupation with the gathering of interesting people for elaborate cocktail parties, he was a brilliant society portrait painter who reportedly commanded between $3,000 and $10,000 for a painting, top prices in those times. His clients Included such noted Palm Beach and New York socialites as Phyllis Rhinelander and'Alexander Woolcott, comedienne Beatrice Lily, actress Florence Nash, and authors Booth Tarkington and Kenneth Roberts. More subdued than his partner, Coolidge spent most of his time at work, either painting for shows at such prestigious New York midtown galleries as the Kraushaar and Kleeman's or in the antique shop.
Because of his association with some of the most progressive modern painters of his day, the paintings of Mountfort Coolidge are more than just representative paintings chronicling the landscape around him, they are expressions of the landscape as he experienced it, as a series of geometric and organic shapes and forms, patterns of color, and of images of the time in which he lived. Although man is seldom depicted in the landscape, he has in many instances left his mark upon it in the form of a dwelling, road, stonewall, or sailboat on the horizon. In these paintings we find strong European as well as American influences. 'I'he houses that are simplified forms set in the landscape owe a debt to Cezanne, and the coloring not onlv that of' the French impressionists but often that of the Fauves.
Mountfort Coolidge painted tirelessly for several decades. He became a member of the Ogunquit Art Association, exhibiting locally. He also had several successful exhibitions in Paris, New York, (Kraushaar Gallery, Boston (Margaret Brown Gallery), Palm Beach (Society of the Four Arts), and elsewhere. He died in Ogunquit, Maine, in 1954.
Mountfort Coolidge painted plein air (outdoor) small canvas boards as studies for his larger paintings and pastels. Working outdoors, in winter as well as summer, sometimes in uncomfortable conditions, was an American as well as French tradition.All Mountford Coolidge paintings & pastels are from the estate of Steven Hensel.