Sunday, October 29, 2017

Quirk's Later Home in Bethlehem

By chance we came upon a label on a Quirk painting for sale and saw the address of  Macada Road- 



Further Research revealed that he  later lived at 219 East Macada Road in Bethlehem,  PA so he did not spend his entire time on Homestead Avenue (See earlier blog post below. )

Quirk's later home may reflect some downsizing as his children left for college.  This home is only 2.9 miles from Homestead Ave. 





Quirk Arrives at Lehigh

In searching through the archives of Lehigh University's student newspaper, The Brown and White, we came across this article from Quirk's first year. It provides a brief background and mentions two children. (I had only recently learned of one.)

It mentions an exhibit of his work including pastels, portraits and fishing scenes from Maine.

The house currently listed as 1814 Homestead Ave is pictured below. It was built in 1949-50

Bethlehem Homestead of Francis and Anna Quirk

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Francis Quirk Paints Francis Quirk- The Self Portraits

We have finally set the time aside to put together the self-portraits of Francis Quirk in one spot. It is an interesting mix of different styles and ages. 

We are leaving out one image that is in the collection of the Snape Collection at the University of Notre Dame. They have a particularly restrictive policy on sharing images, which in this humble amateur scholar's opinion runs counter to the purpose of an art museum's mission of fostering art appreciation. However, the Snape team does get partial credit as they did share with us an image of their Quirk painting when we were building a signature library in our early days.

So here they are. 

The first is a pastel drawing that was in his papers at the 2016 Auction in Maine. The young Quirk has piercing eyes, brown hair and a strong chin in an almost cartoonish self depiction.

Self Portrait, Great Maine Artists, Francis J. Quirk
Pastel Self Portrait by Francis J. Quirk
Based on the Materials backing this oil painting, we believe it may have been painted when Quirk was in his late 20's or early 30's. His hair is still brown. 

Self Portrait, Great Maine Artists, Francis J. Quirk
Oil Self Portrait by Francis J. Quirk

Quirk has a more serious tone and a few more wrinkles in this rather serious frontal view.
Self Portrait, Great Maine Artists, Francis J. Quirk
Charcoal Self Portrait by Francis J. Quirk

A more pensive profile has a more mysterious aura.

Self Portrait, Great Maine Artists, Francis J. Quirk
Pastel Self Portrait by Francis J. Quirk
While not a focused self-portrait, this painting of Quirk with his wife Anna also includes his profile.  This painting was exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy. 

Self Portrait, Great Maine Artists, Francis J. Quirk
Portrait of Francis J. Quirk with wife Anna
The Self Portrait below illustrates Quirk's sense of humor and knack for self-promotion. He is perhaps the only artist with a portrait and self-portrait in the National Portrait Gallery.  He cleverly embedded the sefl-portrait in his commissioned portrait of Edgar Lee Masters. 

Self Portrait, Great Maine Artists, Francis J. Quirk
Self Portrait of Francis J. Quirk embedded in the portrait of Edgar Lee Masters
Portrait of Edgar Lee Masters with embedded Self Portrait of Francis J. Quirk

Quirk exhibited this gray haired self-portrait in his final exhibition at Lehigh University, which also included works from Ossabaw Island.  
Self Portrait, Great Maine Artists, Francis J. Quirk
Self Portrait by Francis J. Quirk
Photo of Francis J. Quirk at the time of his retirement from Lehigh University.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Francis Quirk Designs a Medal

Among the Quirk papers auctioned in 2016 was the design for a medal. The medal has the title of “ART AND PHILOSOPHY” and features a toga clad man seated on a marble bench surrounded with scrolls. He appears to be deep in thought.

Art and Philosophy Medal Design by Francis Quirk

We have no idea if the medal was ever cast and have found no reference to it on the internet. This may have been an academic assignment.

We did find it interesting that with the medal design is some background lines that he used as a tool for aligning the elements. One salient feature is that he used the classic triangle to lay out the paintings key elements.


An illustration of the esteem for the triangle being reserved for important subjects is the uproar caused by George Caleb Bingham’s The Jolly Flatboatmen.  The painting is now in the National Gallery of Art in Washington. Bingham was known for his paintings of hunters, trappers and boatman on the Mississippi. But, he also executed some genre scenes around elections that were quite good as well.

The Jolly Flatboatmen by George Caleb Bingham



The triangle composition in the Flatboatmen caused a bit of a stir as some art connoisseurs asked, “How the painter could use this format of common working men?” Looking back, this writer’s view would be “That is exactly the point. These humble men are exulting in life and the arts. Is an honest day’s work not noble? Isn’t the joy of music and dance not noble? This is not the dance of the seven veils here.