Work of the Week — “Bass Rocks, East Gloucester” by Henry Hammond Ahl

Monday, January 29, 2018

by Sadie Allen

While the wintertime can be quite lovely with its bare branches and chilly rains, nothing quite beats the charm of summer- something I’ve been missing lately. While perusing the Museum’s vast collection of works, this summertime scene caught my eye. Its stunning blue sea and sky portray the wonderful and warm nature of the season that makes it so lovable – the calm and sunny disposition that infects even the most introverted among us to venture out into the world. I especially enjoy the sailboats in the distance. These bobbing vessels remind me of the wonderful aesthetic of New England, a place artist Henry Hammond Ahl called home for a time. I have always admired this region, with its rich history and beautiful old home fronts. Given my inability to swim, though, I could only watch the sailboats float off, dreaming on joining them on whatever adventure lay ahead.

Henry Hammond Ahl lived quite an interesting life of his own, voyaging around Europe and even studying at the Royal Academy in Munich and the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris to further his already incredible artistic ability. After marrying, he spent his time painting portraits of politicians in Washington, D.C. before relocating to New York where he began portraying religious scenes. Despite his multiple travels, his home in the Northeastern United States never left his heart, as evident in this stunning painting of a Massachusetts oceanfront.
This stunning work, with the crashing, foaming waves below and the soaring seagulls above, left me craving summer upon first sight. Hopefully as I embark on my own adventure (one of college searches and tours), I’ll have the chance to revisit the stunning New England region, and perhaps enjoy views like this as I go.

Artwork above: Henry Hammond Ahl, Bass Rocks, East Gloucester, 1930, Oil Painting, 10 x 14 inches. Gift of Dr A. Everette James, Jr.. Permanent Collection. 1986.2.2.21.