GEORGE WESLEY BELLOWS (1882–1925)
Grammy Ames’ House, No. 1, 1916
Oil on panel, 18 x 22 in.
Inscribed (by the artist’s wife, at lower left): Geo Bellows / ESB; (on the back): GRAMMY AMES’ HOUSE / Mrs GEO BELLOWS / 146 E 19st / NY
RECORDED: George Bellows, Record Book B, p. 81 // [Emma S. Bellows, comp.], The Paintings of George Bellows (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1929), no. 62 illus. // “George Wesley Bellows––Painter and Graver, 1882–1925,” Index of Twentieth Century Artists 1 (March 1934), p. 89
EXHIBITED: George E. Gage Gallery, Cleveland, Ohio, 1918 // Milch Galleries, New York, 1918 // Buffalo Fine Arts Academy, Buffalo, New York, September 11–October 5, 1919, Paintings by George Bellows, no. 13, as “Grammy Ames’ Place” // Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, November 1–December 16, 1919, Paintings by George Bellows, no. 13, as “Grammy Ames’ Place” // Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester, New York, December 1919, Exhibition of Oil Paintings by George Bellows, N.A. and Mural Paintings and Drawings by Violet Oakley, no. 13, as “Grammy Ames’ Place” // Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1919 // Carson Pirie Scott, Chicago, Illinois, 1922 // The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, October 12–November 22, 1925, Memorial Exhibition of the Work of George Bellows, pp. 26, 61 no. 23 illus. // H. V. Allison & Co., New York, 1942, Paintings by George Bellows // H. V. Allison & Co., New York, 1944, Paintings by George Bellows // National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., January 19–February 24, 1957, George Bellows: A Retrospective Exhibition, pp. 18 no. 28, 62 illus. // Hirschl & Adler Galleries, New York, October 27–November 27, 1976, The American Experience, no. 68
EX COLL: the artist; to his estate, 1925; to his wife, Emma S. Bellows, 1925; to Mr. and Mrs. Joseph John Kerrigan, Oyster Bay, Long Island, New York, 1925; to Esther Slater Kerrigan, Oyster Bay, Long Island, New York; to sale, Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York, January 8–10, 1942, lot 55; to [H. V. Allison & Co., New York], 1942; to Gary Cooper, Los Angeles, California, 1944; to Dr. and Mrs. John Converse, New York; to [Hirschl & Adler Galleries, New York, by 1976]; to private collection, Ohio, 1976; by descent in the family, 2000 until the present
Grammy Ames’ House, No. 1 was painted on Bellow’s final trip to Maine in 1916. During that summer, Bellows was based in the town of Camden, on Penobscot Bay. However, when his daughters and their grandparents returned to New York that September, he decided to venture further afield, spending a month painting on Matinicus––a 700-acre island located about twenty-two miles from the mainland––which he had first visited with the painter Leon Kroll in 1913.
A remote locale devoid of tourists, Matinicus––populated by independent-minded lobstering families––no doubt appealed to Bellows’s desire for unspoiled scenery and fresh motifs for his brush. (Today, approximately 82 people live year-round on the island.) Indeed, during his visit, he wrote to Henri that he was doing “extra fine work,” all the while continuing his explorations with color. That “extra fine work” consisted of about thirty paintings, the majority of which featured intimate views of the island, as apparent in Ox Team, Wharf at Matinicus (1916; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York). The same holds true for Grammy Ames’ House, No. 1, in which Bellows adheres to an unusual, tightly cropped design featuring a gabled white-clapboard house on the left and on the right, a chicken coop, a fence, and a smokehouse along with a smattering of chickens milling about the yard. (The Hirschl & Adler painting was likely a prelude to Bellows’s Grammy Ames House, No. 2, a slightly larger panel [22 x 28 in.], also executed in Matinicus, which, according to the artist’s Record Book B [p. 95], was destroyed.
The Ames clan is synonymous with Matinicus, having been residents of the island since the 1820s. The “Grammy Ames” referred to in the title of Bellows’s painting may have been Adella [Philbrook] Ames [1875–1961], who was married to Frank W. Ames [1868–1955]. Erected in 1895, the house, located on the Main Road in Matinicus [known to locals as “The Ridge”], is still standing, although its appearance was substantially altered over the years as it underwent expansion and renovation. In the distance, the viewer’s gaze is drawn to a cluster of farmhouses and a line of wooded hills flanked by a broad expanse of sky replete with heavy storm clouds.