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Emile Gruppe Charles Gruppe Karl Gruppe at the Cahoon Museum — Blue Heron Fine Art Blog

A Family of Artists: Gruppe Family at the Cahoon Museum Review

by Jim Puzinas on April 11, 2012

The Cahoon Museum, Cotuit, MA

The Cahoon Museum, Cotuit, MA

It is not often that a small museum is able to mount an exhibition of works that span three generations of a single family of artists. Kudos should be given to Richard Waterhouse, the new director of The Cahoon Museum in Cotuit, MA for doing just that.  Waterhouse’s desire to learn more about several paintings by Charles Gruppe in his family’s collection, led him to assemble the expansive new exhibition, “A Family of Artists: Gruppe Family”, now on display at the museum through April 29th.  The Gruppe family artists represented in this show include: Charles Paul Gruppe (1860-1940), his sons Emile (1896-1978) and Karl (1893-1982), and his grandson Robert Charles Gruppe (1944- ).

Richard Waterhouse, Director of the Cahoon Museum

Richard Waterhouse, Director of the Cahoon Museum

The patriach of this artistic  family, Charles Gruppe, was born in Canada, and moved to New York State was he was ten.  Primarily a tonalist landscape and marine painter, Charles Gruppe was largely self-taught, eventually settling in Holland for a time where he was recognized by the Dutch as being one of America’s most gifted painters of the late 19th Century.

 In 1925, after seeing a number of Rockport and Gloucester harbor scenes painted by Frederick Mulhaupt at an exhibition in New York, father and son Emile traveled to the Cape Ann area of Massachusetts to experience the great light that had so inspired Mulhaupt’s canvases. There, they fell in love with the location, set up studios and painted for the rest of their lives. 

Charles P. Gruppe, Bass Rocks, Gloucester

The author with the painting on loan from our gallery, Charles P. Gruppe, Bass Rocks, Gloucester

There are many fine examples of Charles’ work displayed on the museum’s first floor ranging from his Dutch tonalist pieces, as seen above with Richard Waterhouse, to his higher keyed colorful impressionist scenes of the Gloucester area. In the painting  above, Charles Gruppe captures the fleeting glimpses of sunlight as the light beams break through the clouds and illuminate an otherwise grey day at the shore. 

Two rooms on the second floor are dedicated to the paintings by Emile Gruppe. Emile had a very strong art background and received his initial training from his father before being educated in art at The Hague in the Netherlands and in New York City at the National Academy of Design and The Arts Students League. 

One of many Emile Gruppe paintings exhibited.

One of many fine Emile Gruppe paintings exhibited.

Best known for his variety of Impressionistic landscapes, especially for views of fishing boats docked at Gloucester and Rockport, Emile painted with bold impasto and often with mauve undertones. So it is of no surprise, that this show includes prime examples of what collectors of this artist look for in acquiring one of his paintings. Large scale works painted in the early 30’s through the late 1950’s  demonstrate the versatility of an artist in capturing a wide range of vistas from locations which he frequently painted, including several in Florida.

Karl Gruppe, Return of Spring, bronze sculpture.

Karl Gruppe, Return of Spring, bronze sculpture.

 A most unexpected surprise was the sculpture gallery featuring bronzes by Karl Gruppe artfully arranged in an adjoining second floor room. The four delicately wrought pieces, on loan to the exhibit from a Gruppe family member, are of such high quality that one is immediately reminded of the work of sculpture legends Paul Manship or Daniel Chester French. 

As a fine art dealer it was surprising I was unfamiliar with the sculptures of Karl Gruppe. I am already thinking of a way to broaden my inventory to include such works. Perhaps, in the future, the museum will be able to uncover enough of Karl’s sculptures to mount a show of his own. That would be truly spectacular!

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