We have art in order not to die of the truth*

by chuckofish

In one corner of my living room hangs a pleasing watercolor that I inherited from my grandmother (father’s mother). You’ve seen it in pictures before. Remember this one taken just after we painted the living room and before the fern took over?


I’ve always loved this painting and wondered about how my grandmother came to own it, and what the artist who painted it, Sears Gallagher, was like.  So I looked him up, and wouldn’t you know, he has a Wikipedia page.


A close-up of my watercolor

A prolific American artist, who specialized in watercolor and etching, Gallagher was born in Boston in 1869. Apart from the obligatory study abroad and summers spent in Monhegan, Maine, he lived in Boston all his life, dying there in 1955. Commercially successful and critically acclaimed, he was compared to the likes of Winslow Homer and James McNeill Whistler, at least according to Wikipedia. The Metropolitan Museum in NY and the Chicago Art Institute are among the museums that own his work, particularly his etchings, which until recently have gained more attention than his watercolors.  Despite his success, he is not what one would call famous. I suspect it’s because too much of his work survives, and also because he lived a conventional, scandal-free life. He occupied the same house in a suburb of Boston from the time he married until he died. He and his wife had two children, a boy and a girl.

image from the Boston Public Library via Wikipedia

image from the Boston Public Library via Wikipedia

He took his art very seriously and even pushed the boundaries of style in his younger days. I really love his watercolors of Maine.


Apparently, he belonged to the artist’s colony on Monhegan Island. This painting of Christmas Cove  is similar to the one I own. He liked to paint the beach and water,

gallagher_sears_christmas_cove_monhegan_sbut sometimes he explored other subjects.


And once in a while, he even did a portrait. I wonder who this lovely lady was? She reminds me a little of my grandmother.


Maybe he wasn’t a grand master, but I bet Sears Gallagher has helped just as many people “not die of the truth”. His painting has certainly made my house a nicer place to live. So tonight let’s make a toast to Sears Gallagher, a wonderful artist and (by all accounts) a good man.

*Friedrich Nietzsche

** all photos via Google image