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George Loftus Noyes USA, 1864–1954Type: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 18 x 24 inches
The Footbridge, Annisquam

About the artist

Born in Bothwell, Ontario, George Noyes’ parents were U.S. citizens who had moved to Canada to search for oil. When his father died, leaving three young sons, his mother moved the family to East Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she would run a boarding house. Noyes started painting at age fifteen and began his studies with George Bartlett at the Massachusetts Normal Art School. By 1885, he was working for the New England Glass Company in Cambridge, painting fruit and flower pictures on glass. He abandoned his apprenticeship in glass painting in 1890, when he left for Paris to enroll at the Académie Colarossi to study with Gustave Courtois, Joseph-Paul Blanc, and Paul-Louis Delance. In Blanc’s atelier Noyes met and befriended fellow Boston artist Maurice Prendergast. It was during his European study and travels that Noyes developed his skill for painting en plein air, when he went to the French countryside with fellow students. In 1892, Noyes traveled to Algeria and then to Italy, where he met up with his brother Edward, an accomplished pianist studying in Dresden.

Noyes returned to Boston in 1893, where he established his studio and began to exhibit his work with his friend Prendergast and others. In 1897, Noyes had the opportunity to travel and paint with Frederic Edwin Church on a trip to Mexico. Upon returning to New England, Noyes firmly established his roots in Boston and the North Shore region. He exhibited regularly with the Boston Art Club and the Boston Society of Water Color Painters. Noyes painted in many locations in the Massachusetts countryside and along the coast. He worked in Gloucester, was one of the first landscapists to paint on Cape Cod, and produced many colorful interpretations of the New Hampshire and Vermont mountains. His journeys would eventually bring him to the Cape Ann area, and Noyes finally settled in Annisquam. It was there that he began to work with Eric Pape, who directed many young artists to Noyes for instruction. One such artist was the young N.C. Wyeth, who once wrote in a letter, “I am arranging to study a part of my time with George Noyes. His color knowledge is superb and I think he will give me much help at this juncture.”

From 1903 to 1906 Noyes taught painting and drawing at the Leland Stanford School of Art at Stanford University. Although he continued to spend his summers on Cape Ann, many of his personal possessions were destroyed in the Great Earthquake of 1906 while he was living in the San Francisco area. Upon his return to Massachusetts, he would divide his time between stays in Boston and Annisquam.

Noyes had his first one-man exhibition in Boston at the Hatfield Gallery in 1906. He quickly gained recognition for his still lifes and richly-colored New England landscapes. He showed regularly at the Copley Gallery and the Guild of Boston Artists. He moved into Fenway Studios in 1907 and stayed there until 1910, when he established a studio on Boylston Street. In 1915 he won a silver medal in the Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco. Shortly afterwards, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston purchased his painting Gloucester Wharves.

In the early 1920s Noyes traveled frequently to Palermo in Sicily where his younger brother Edward had settled, and he exhibited his Italian subjects in Boston. In 1930 Noyes and his wife moved to Winter Park, Florida. In 1935 they moved to Braden, Vermont and finally to New Hampshire, near Peterborough. In 1939 a studio fire destroyed hundreds of his paintings, a significant portion of his life’s work.

Regarded today as one of the finest impressionists of the Boston School, Noyes achieved great success during the first two decades of the twentieth century. Known for his extraordinary ability to capture the quality of sunlight and its effects on the landscape and water, The Footbridge – Annisquam is an exquisite example of his mature style. The present work, circa 1910, employs his distinctive palette of lavenders and greens from this period, and his brilliant use of broken brushwork technique. In his intimate portrayal of this very familiar subject, Noyes beautifully illustrates his masterful ability in painting water and capturing the sense of a light-filled atmosphere.

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