A seascape by Alfred Thompson Bricher, a painter best known for his luminous, hyper-realistic subjects of the rocky New England shoreline, has been acquired for the Duke University Museum of Art's American collections. Born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Bricher grew up in Newburyport, Massachusetts, and Boston. After opening a studio in 1858, he began to make sketching excursions along the Massachusetts and Long Island coasts, to Mount Desert Island, Maine, in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and in the Catskills and Hudson River Valley in New York.
At the South Head, Grand Manan features a dramatic view of the steep, coastal rock formations on this island situated between New Brunswick, Canada, and northern Maine. The vertical format and crashing waves seen here are less common among Bricher's works, which often depict calm, glassy seas gently lapping a beach. Almost two-thirds of the painting's composition is occupied by a sky filled with light-struck clouds, illuminated by a brilliant sunrise hidden behind the rocky promontory on the left. White seabirds fly over the waves in the foreground, a mist rises against the cliffs, and two sailboats can be seen in the middle and far distance.
With its atmospheric and vaporous effects, DUMA's new painting offers one of Bricher's most unusual compositions. The purchase of the painting was made possible through a gift from the John A. Schwarz III and Anita Eerdmans Schwarz Family Endowment Fund. Schwarz '56 is a Duke trustee.
June 1, 2003