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Artist Biography

Canadian-born landscape painter Charles Gruppe was for the most part self-taught. He supported his mother and sisters in Rochester, New York with sign painting, and by the age of twenty-one had earned enough to travel through Europe. Holland held particular interest for the young artist, who found inspiration in charming fishing villages like Katwyk Ann Zee, where he built his first home and studio. He lived in Holland for over twenty years, becoming quite famous for his silvery Tonalist village scenes and well-patronized by the Dutch royal family.

When Gruppe returned to New York for good in 1909, he continued painting landscapes and coastal scenes, but also became an art dealer, which helped him support his children’s arts educations. His son Emile benefited from this training and went on to become a successful painter. Both father and son divided their time between New York City and Cape Ann, Massachusetts. Gruppe spent the last fifteen summers of his life painting in Rockport. Winter subjects were provided by the forests in New York and New England, and here in Winter Woods we see elements of the Tonalist style Gruppe practiced while in Holland. The massing of color emphasizes the weight of the snow and thick tree trunk, and the overall quietude and solemnity of the wintry scene. His innate sense of compositional balance and sensitive draftsmanship are evident, and it is easy to see why this self-taught good natured painter enjoyed such popularity.

Gruppe’s works are included in the collections of museums such as the Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, OH; Georgia Museum of Art, Athens, GA; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; and Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI.

References:

Peter Hastings Falk, Who was Who in American Art (Madison, CT: Soundview Press, 1999)

Miriam Lippincott, The Artists of the Rockport Art Association (Rockland, MA: The Rockport Art Association, 1980)