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Jay Hall Connaway Revisited — Blue Heron Fine Art Blog

Jay Hall Connaway Revisited

by Jim Puzinas on May 26, 2010

Our gallery has sold many paintings by the American artist Jay Hall Connaway (1893-1970) over the years.  So it is with great pleasure that we greet the current reappraisal of Connaway’s lengthy career recently undertaken by two prominent New England museums.


"Washing over Gull Rock", Oil on board, 29" x 36"

Beginning with the Portland (ME)  Museum of Art exhibition last fall of 39 paintings  by Connaway donated by Mrs. Marjorie Osbourne and culiminating with an ambitious show currently on exhibit at the Shelburne (VT) Museum through October 24, 2010, we are able to closely examine and appreciate the paintings of Jay Hall Connaway, an artist once heralded in the 1920’s as “the greatest sea painter since Winslow Homer”.

"Monhegan Dock, Fall 1968", Oil on board, 18" x 24"

"Monhegan Dock, Fall 1968", Oil on board, 18" x 24"

Connaway’s  previous obscurity had more to do with his timing. Returning to America from a scholarship lasting several years in Europe, Connaway was confronted by the Depression years and his lack of income.  Still wanting to paint expressively, he ventured to the remote island of  Monhegan (ME) where he lived year round through the 1940’s. The toughness of this island life is captured  dramatically in many of his ravaged seascapes, highlighting his  own isolation and Mother Nature’s fury. When I viewed my first large scale canvas “Washing over Gull Rock”, I was mesmerized and terrorized at the same time. The high horizontal line put the viewer right in the path of an incoming wave about to crash, threatening to take me out to sea.

"Sunderland, Vermont, 1951", Oil on board, 14" x 20"

"Sunderland, Vermont, 1951", Oil on board, 14" x 20"

Although it is his oil paintings of Monhegan that capture most collectors interest, Connaway did paint many country scenes while living in Vermont, which makes viewing the Shelburne Museum exhibit so intriguing.  Juxtaposing both locales demonstrates  the creativity and flexibility of an artist that is finally receiving well deserved recognition.


Nancy Medina May 27, 2010 at 10:42 am

Great post Jim. I love hearing about the life and times of the artist, and what a master at seascapes!

Jim Puzinas May 27, 2010 at 2:13 pm

Thanks for commenting Nancy. Connaway is well deserving of the latest attention by both museums.

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