Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Animal Artwork by Francis Quirk


In our exploration of the art work of Francis Quirk, we have seen that his most popular subject is portraits; he clearly was a student of the human form. And of course he loved his marine paintings with many works featuring sailboats and coastal Maine. And he executed a few landscapes.

But there are relatively few depictions of animals as the entire subject. Of course he did include dogs in portraits including Labrador retrievers, Irish setters, poodles and dachshunds . In these paintings, the pet may have been important tot he sitter, but to Quirk they seem to be elements added for visual interest like the plants he frequently included. 

Below are the four artworks we have found that focus solely on animals. The first is a watercolor of horses moiling in a group. It has a more modern and expressive style than many of Quirk's disciplined studies. Of course the medium lends itself to a more expressive approach. It may have been executed when he was at his Arizona home.


image of horses, watercolor painting of horses by Francis J. Quirk
Group of Active Horses by Francis J. Quirk

The Second work is a pastel of a dachshund that is quite well done. 

Dog image, Dachshund image by Francis Quirk
Dachshund Image by Francis Quirk 

The final works are watercolors of a draft horse and two goats. They were probably executed in Maine near Quirk's summer home in Saco. Both include a full background with traditional farm buildings. It seems that he was trying to capture more than the animal as he includes a wagon wheel and old structures in both images. These give the works an antiquated feel as if they are capturing the end of a bygone era that has now fully slipped away. 

One can imagine Quirk heading off on a summer day to paint in the sunshine.




Horse Image, Horse Painting, water color of Maine Draft Horse
Draft Horse Watercolor by Francis Quirk
Goat Image, Watercolor Painting of Mother Goat and Kid,
Two Goats in Field Watercolor by Francis Quirk

Monday, May 15, 2017

Pastel Portrait of Edgar Lee Masters Found!

We have previously written several posts about Francis Quirk's portrait of Edgar Lee Masters, which now is in the collection of  the National Portrait Gallery. Quirk was friends with the author space who rented a room from Quirk while he was teaching at Ogontz College. 
Edgar Lee Masters Image
Oil Portrait of Edgar Lee Masters in the National Portrait Gallery

The portrait is stunning and we had the opportunity to see it up close when we the Gallery graciously allowed us into their archives for that purpose. 

Through a Pennsylvania friend of Quirk, we have learned of a pastel study for that painting and are sharing with you the image below.  The background is a different shade, but the pose and figure are essentially the same. This pastel ultimately belongs in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery or Lehigh University.

Image of Edgar Lee Masters
Pastel Portrait of Edgar Lee Masters (Probably a study for the oil portrait in the National Portrait Gallery) by Francis J. Quirk




Friday, April 28, 2017

Another Quirk Maritime Painting Comes to Light

Through a friend of Francis Quirk, we obtained another image of a painting by Quirk for our image library. 

The painting below has a bit of a cubist bent and currently hangs above a doorway.  It is the first time we have seen Quirk working in the cubic style with the subject matter not being a person. The palate of cool blues, purples and green certainly works well.

Quirk Painting Sailboats, Francis J. Quirk, Artist Quirk, Cubist Painting
Cubist Rendition of Sailboats by Francis J. Quirk

Monday, April 24, 2017

Harpo Marx and Art More About Francis Quirk's Friend

Earlier we had written a bit about Francis Quirk's friendship with Harpo Marx as the two of them often looked at art together.

After a cursory look into it, we learned that there was more to Harpo than meets the eye. Besides being a surprisingly good harp player with recorded albums, he was quite an art collector. Harpo attended Thomas Hart Benson's 1946 show and was the first to buy a painting- Spring on the Missouri. He was visiting Chicago to perform and stopped in at the opening at the Associated American Artistis Gallery. The painting was completed in 1945 and depicts a recent flood. This painting now hangs in the North Carolina Museum of Art.
Spring on the Missouri by Thomas Hart Benson  North Carolina Museum of Art



Newspaper Clipping Showing Harpo Marx and Thomas Hart Benton's Painting "Spring on the Missouri"



"Spring on the Missouri hanging in Harpo Marx' home

Harpo also collected Salvador Dali who was a personal friend, George Grosz, Joseph Hirsch, LeRoy Nieman, Doris Lee, and John Decker. Joseph Hirsch spent time in Philadelphia, Provincetown and New York in periods that overlapped with Quirk so they may have known each other. 

Below is a painting of Harpo by Salvador Dali. You can learn more of the back story by visiting the Philadelphia Museum of Art site. Or learn a bit about the Marx Brothers and the Surrealists by going here.

Harpo Marx by Salvador Dali
Salvador Dali with Harpo Marx
John Decker Painting of Harpo Marx as Blue Boy Which sold for $11,875 in 2013

We are reaching out to Harpo's estate to see if there was a Francis Quirk painting in his collection.

Going beyond his collecting of American Paintings, Harpo would also paint. He sold his paintings to benefit various charities. To see his paintings you can visit Harpo's Place for more information on his paintings and his musical recordings.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Conversation with Friend of Francis Quirk

Recently we had the pleasure of speaking with a friend of Francis Quirk. This gentleman and his wife had taken a painting course taught by Quirk at a Pennsylvania community college. They were friends for approximately six years prior to the famous artist's death.

The threesome enjoyed many evenings together over beers. He said that Quirk was an inquisitive and curious person of good humor. He was fascinated by new technologies and what their adoption would mean for society. Quirk was down-to-earth and fun to be around.

Quirk could be stubborn and had determination. Fore example, he once had a stroke in Florida. Rather than being treated at a Florida Hospital, he drove 36 hours back to Pennsylvania for medical care.

When it came to art and drawing Quirk had amazing talent. On a cocktail napkin, he once executed a wonderful drawing of a person without lifting the pen off the paper. He also liked to experiment with different materials and techniques. For example Quirk figured out that he could get images similar to watercolors from old Flair pens that were running out of ink.
Quirk was an eloquent speaker and analyst of paintings. He could discuss the merits of a painting like a wine connoisseur evaluating a select varietal.

Flair Pens

Quirk's transportation was a Mercury Station Wagon which he purchased because it had the largest back entrance and therefore could hold the largest paintings possible.

When our contact met Quirk, his wife Anna had already passed. Apparently she spent a significant amount of time in Coastal Maine as her allergies were exacerbated by the pollen in Pennsylvania. (Note that Quirk also once had a house in Arizona as well. Perhaps the arid climate aided her condition.)
Friend of Painter Francis Quirk, Harpo Marx
Harpo Marx Friend of Francis Quirk

Quirk also had traveled in some interesting circles.  The famous writer Edgar Lee Masters rented a room from him when Quirk was teaching at the Ogontz School. The Pulitzer Prize winning Poet Carl Sandburg also called him a friend. And perhaps most interestingly, Harpo Marx and he would frequently go and look at Art together in New York. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Visit to National Portrait Gallery Archives to View Francis Quirk Portrait of Edgar Lee Masters

The staff at the National Portrait Gallery have been wonderfully supportive of our efforts to learn more about Francis Quirk's portrait of Edgar Lee Masters.  In addition to providing images, they have allowed us to visit their archives building to see the painting up close.
 
The archives are kept in a very plane looking warehouse type building in the suburbs of Washington D.C. As we pulled up, I hinted to my sons that we might find the Lost Ark of movie fame inside. While we did not find Indy's treasure, we did see others; reaffirming my conviction that Museums have an opportunity to bring art lovers closer through tours of the archives.
 
After signing in, Todd walked us through a labyrinth of clean hallways, past a photographic set-up and into a bay containing a myriad of paintings and sculptures. The Edgar Lee Masters Portrait was set up on an easel. Its strength was immediately apparent.


Quirk Portrait, Quirk Painter, Artist Quirk, Pennsylvania Artist Quirk, Maine Painter Francis Quirk
Edgar Lee Masters Portrait by Francis Quirk

Quirk Portrait, Quirk Painter, Artist Quirk, Pennsylvania Artist Quirk, Maine Painter Francis Quirk
Edgar Lee Masters Portrait by Francis Quirk with eight year old for scale



Once lit... Wow! 

Quirk Portrait, Quirk Painter, Artist Quirk, Pennsylvania Artist Quirk, Maine Painter Francis Quirk
Edgar Lee Masters Portrait by Francis Quirk with lighting


Below are some close ups of key areas including the face, hands, and the Quirk Self-Portrait.

Quirk Portrait, Quirk Painter, Artist Quirk, Pennsylvania Artist Quirk, Maine Painter Francis Quirk
Edgar Lee Masters Portrait by Francis Quirk Close up of Face


Quirk Portrait, Quirk Painter, Artist Quirk, Pennsylvania Artist Quirk, Maine Painter Francis Quirk
Edgar Lee Masters Portrait by Francis Quirk Close up of Hands with Pipe
Quirk Portrait, Quirk Painter, Artist Quirk, Pennsylvania Artist Quirk, Maine Painter Francis Quirk
Edgar Lee Masters Portrait by Francis Quirk Close up of Books on Shelf

Beyond the excellent execution, one of the most interesting features of the painting is the self-portrait that is in the upper right hand corner. Quirk has included an inscription to his friend- "In Fullest admiration to Edgar Lee Masters Francis J. Quirk."

Quirk Portrait, Quirk Painter, Artist Quirk, Pennsylvania Artist Quirk, Maine Painter Francis Quirk
Edgar Lee Masters Portrait by Francis Quirk- Close up of Corner with Quirk Self Portrait

Quirk Portrait, Quirk Painter, Artist Quirk, Pennsylvania Artist Quirk, Maine Painter Francis Quirk
Close up of Self-Portrait by Francis Quirk in Portrait of Edgar Lee Masters




Friday, March 10, 2017

Artist Francis Quirk's Train Locomotive Watercolors

We continue bringing to light the works of Francis Quirk by sharing two striking watercolor images of a train locomotive with an adjacent freight car. The images  capture the engine obliquely from the front with smoke rising from an active boiler fire. 



Quirk Train Painting, Quirk Engine Painting, Quirk Watercolor, Artist Quirk Watercolor Image of Train Engine
Watercolor Train Locomotive Image by Artist Francis Quirk
Train image, Francis Quirk Artist,  Train Engine Water Color Image, Watercolor artist Quirk
Watercolor Locomotive Image by Artist Francis Quirk

The House in the background of the second painting is reminiscent of Edward Hopper's work. It may be that Quirk's watercolors were executed when Quirk was in Cape Cod Massachusetts as a young man in the early 1930's. For perspective we are including a few train related works of Hopper below. Several of these works were executed in the 1920's on the Cape or in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Given the geographic proximity of the two artists and the similarity of their work, it is fair to assume that Hopper had a significant influence on Francis. 



Edward Hopper influence on Mid Century Artist Francis Quirk
Locomotive and Freight Car by Edward Hopper
Edward Hopper influence on Mid Century Artist Francis Quirk
D. & R. G. Locomotive by Edward Hopper
Edward Hopper influence on Mid Century Artist Francis Quirk
Freight Car at Truro by Edward Hopper

Edward Hopper influence on Mid Century Artist Francis Quirk
House by the Railroad by Edward Hopper

Edward Hopper influence on Mid Century Artist Francis Quirk
Railroad Train by Edward Hopper
Edward Hopper influence on Mid Century Artist Francis Quirk
Circus Wagon 1926 by Edward Hopper
Edward Hopper influence on Mid Century Artist Francis Quirk
Locomotive by Edward Hopper