Friday, October 5, 2018

Canadian Family Heirloom is a Quirk Maritime Painting

We recently heard from a gentleman in Montreal Canada who was fortunate to marry into the co-ownership of a Francis Quirk Maritime painting. He discovered it in storage with other cherished items in his home. It was originally purchased in Pennsylvania and we are seeking information on the executive and his wife who originally displayed it prominently in their home.

Pennsylvania Painters Francis Quirk  maritime watercolor boat sailboat
Maritime painting by Francis J. Quirk

The watercolor is dated 1939, so it was executed when Quirk was 32, teaching at Ogontz College and still seeking to establish himself as a commercial artist.  He had a fondness for painting boats that would last throughout his lifetime and when retiring he stated that he looked forward to returning to Maine to paint. This painting could have been executed in any number of locations including Maine, Cape Cod Massachusetts or even from memory in Pennsylvania.

The owner of the image finds it striking and lifelike as he stated "you can almost hear the waves rippling off the bow." Clearly Quirk's talent for realistic display shows through in the detailed rigging and the way the sails are almost tangibly filled with air. 

Quirk, Francis Quirk, Francis J. Quirk, Artist Maine, Artist Pennsylvania
Maritime watercolor painting by Francis J. Quirk as in frame
And of course Professor Quirk leaves nothing to chance with his signature. A Francis Quirk signature is never ambiguous. 

Signature of Francis J. Quirk

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Quirk Watercolor of Boats in a Harbor

This is the third and final post on the recent influx of images graciously provided by a collector of Francis Quirk's art. 

This rather loosely painted watercolor image features a man in a dory containing a lobster trap in the foreground, a fishing trawler as the dominant image and a background of wharf buildings beneath an overcast sky.  It was painted in 1937. The content reflects the time when fishing vessels were migrating from sail to engine power and lobster traps were still made of wood. 

image of fishing vessels in Maine Harbor, Quirk
1937 Watercolor Painting of Fishing Boats in Harbor by Francis Quirk

We do not know the location of the port. It probably was near Quirk's Maine home in Kinney Shores, so it could be Kennebunkport or Saco.  We have seen a building similar to the one at the right of the painting in another Quirk watercolor. while both are gray with an ascending exterior stairway, the roofs and fenestration are different. That painting is shown below.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Quirk Nautical Painting- The Black Star

As part of our ongoing quest to track-down the work of Francis Quirk we share the image of the Black Star- a three masted schooner under full sail. The ship is painted from the aft-starboard point of-view in moderate seas with a sky filled with billowing clouds.

image of schooner under sail, nautical watercolor, Francis Quirk
The Black Star by Francis Quirk
Unlike the ship in our previous post, we were not able to find any information on a schooner by this name.  Interestingly, there was a shipping line established by an African American entrepreneur named Marcus Garvey that operated from 1919-1922. The name being a play on the famous Cunard White Star line that included the Titanic. 

Thursday, September 6, 2018

More Francis Quirk Art Comes to Light- Watercolor Painting of the Abraham Rydberg

Through relatives of Francis Quirk we have obtained more watercolor nautical images. 

This post is devoted to the watercolor painting of the bow of the Abraham Rydberg. The work is reminiscent of another watercolor discussed in an earlier post. This painting was executed in 1941 when the ship had been in service for almost 30 years. And with the advent of World War II, her days as a merchant vessel were numbered.  Like many of Quirk's other maritime paintings we can see his attention to detail in the handling of the rigging and the anchor chain. 

sailing ship image, four masted barque, ship watercolor, quirk painting
Francis J. Quirk Watercolor Painting of the Abraham Rydberg

The Abraham Rydberg was a four masted, steel Barque built in Glasgow Scotland in 1892 as a vessel to bring Sugar from Hawaii to the mainland.  As late as the 1930's the ship was still in commercial service carrying grain between Sweden and Australia; making the trip in 105 days each way. It was later acquired by the US Coast Guard (1945?) and renamed "The Seven Seas." In 1957 it was broken up for scrap. 

Photograph of the Abraham Rydberg Under Sail.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Ten Reasons to Visit Smaller Art Museums in Second Cities and on University Campuses

In the course of my travels I have visited over a hundred art museums in the US and other countries. Yet, the number of people who do not capitalize on the opportunity to visit the smaller museums in second cities and at universities is surprising.  There is so much wonderful art waiting for them to see. So, here are ten reasons to break out and visit smaller art museums in smaller cities.

1. Every museum has something special.  There is a reason why these museums were built- to serve as, or house, objects of beauty. Be it the glass collection in Flint, the Tiffany works in Winter Haven the Fabergé collection in New Orleans, or the Leonardo Da Vinci painting in Worcester.  You may be quite surprised! The art museum in Worcester Massachusetts has the finest Roman Mosaics and medieval arms collection in the hemisphere. There are beautiful things waiting for you. So check them out.

2. These regional museums are more intimate. Sure, New York's Metropolitan has a great collection, but walking through there and mingling among the throngs can be overwhelming.  See the Met, by all means. But, art does not end in Manhattan.  Head to BrooklynYale or Princeton and you will be pleasantly surprised.

A Cyrus Dallin Sculpture in Arlington Massachusetts

3. The security and staff can be more accommodating. I recently had a private tour at the Cyrus Dallin Museum. A staff member took the time to explain the history behind this amazing sculptor who designed the angel for Salt Lake City's Mormon Tabernacle. The security team at Grand Rapids includes well-informed students; one of whom talked at length with me about the Albrecht Dürer prints display.

4. The buildings can be worth a visit in and of themselves. Bilbao, Spain is the obvious example of this, but Colby College Museum of Art or Hartford's Wadsworth Atheneum are wonderful pieces of architecture.
Colby College Art Museum

5.You get to learn about what is important in that place. The Corning Museum of Glass showcases 35 centuries of the product, while the Washington University's Kemper Gallery has Caleb Bingham's famous painting of Daniel Boone Escorting Settlers through the Cumberland Gap. These museums offer a great way to learn about a region and its history.

Exhibit at the Corning Museum of Glass

6. The Museums often have wonderful locations. San Diego's Museum of Art is located in the heart of beautiful Balboa Park. The Getty is on a hilltop overlooking the ocean. Milwaukee's Museum is on the lake. Who doesn't enjoy the walk through a beautiful university campus such as Harvard's to get to the Fogg or Urbana-Champaign to get to the Krannert? If you take your children, they might eventually be motivated to complete their college applications on time!

The Getty Museum

7. Visiting museums can make work travel less painful.  The first 50 business trips are fun. But after that, being on the road gets old quickly. For a break from client meetings, I have taken consulting teams to art museums in Indianapolis, Toronto, and Cambridge, England  which was greatly appreciated.  And more than once, I have brought a taxi driver along with me for company. If I am going to pay her to wait, she might as well get some culture!

8. Smaller museums costs less. While visiting a major urban art museum may cost $20-$30 for a ticket and another $20 for parking, these small museums frequently charge less than $10. And parking often is free.

9. It supports these important institutions. These Museums are not just displays, they are cultural centers for their communities, providing art education, AP art history classes, concerts, cultural events and even citizenship ceremonies. When you visit an art museum you are supporting a community's cultural vibrancy.

The Sharpshooter by Winslow Homer Portland Museum of Art

10. It gives you a reason to get off the beaten path. If you are visiting the Maine outlets, stop in at the Portland Museum of Art. Take the road less traveled. You will have seen a bit more and have a broader picture of the world.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Three New Quirk Watercolors Come to Light

When we photographed the art works available for auction in 2016 in Maine we missed a few as we ran out of camera disc space. Fortunately, while perusing the internet, we were able to find a few more images of works as the original purchaser put them up for auction elsewhere. Here are three of the works we missed.

The first may have been painted early in Quirk's life when he was spending time in Provincetown, MA on Cape Cod. Earlier we had notcied some parallels or similarities between a few of Quirk's paintings and with the work of Edward Hopper. This painting would also fit into that category. 

Watercolor image of Cape Cod house and dunes by Francis Quirk
Watercolor by Francis Quirk

Watercolor image of cabin in the mountains by Pennsylvania painter Francis Quirk
Watercolor by Francis Quirk

Watercolor image by Francis Quirk
Watercolor by Francis Quirk

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

National Coverage of Francis Quirk Impossible Art Exhibit in the Hamptons

We recently received this reference to Quirk's participation in the Impossible Art Exhibit show at the East Hampton Gallery. 

It appears in the February 1970 edition of artsmagazine.  We have not been able to find more information on the gallery itself. 

Francis Quirk Exhibition Review East Hampton Gallery
Quirk Exhibition Review Notice 1970

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Francis Quirk at RISD an Interest in Industrial Design

In our ongoing quest for information about Francis Quirk, we were surprised to see that we missed something in the archives of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). (It may be that they are adding content to the digital library.) Francis Quirk was listed in the departmental staff of the Student Designer for Art. 
Student Designer 1930 Rhode Island School of Design  Francis Quirk on Staff
Cover of a 1930 Edition of the Student Designer Published at RISD

When we went through the publication we could not find any byline or accreditation to him. At the time he would have been completing a post-graduate year. 

This is the second reference to his becoming involved in a Student Publication. The other was a more eclectic piece called the Salamander.  The Salamander was a short-lived student publication released monthly during the 1925-1926 academic year at the Rhode Island School of Design. Originally printed one-sided, in January 1926 the paper began to be printed on both sides of the page. Its contents were mostly comprised of fictional gossip and humor. Hand drawn illustrations are also included.  You can read more about the Salamander in an earlier blog post here. 

Francis Quirk,   Student Designer,   Publication Rhode Island School of Design
Staff Page of The Student Designer 1930    Image Complements of RISD Digital Commons

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Beautiful Quirk Painting of Seagulls Comes to Light

The second painting that recently came to light from a relative of Francis Quirk is a beautiful watercolor of seagulls. Quirk carefully worked the images of many birds in different alignments and positions on a sky blue background. It appears that he decided to work on his depiction of the waterfowl as an exercise and sought to paint them in a variety of postures as an exercise to improve his hand and master painting the creatures.

Seagulls Image, Painting of Seagulls, Quirk Art, Quirk Watercolor, Francis Quirk Painting, Francis J. Quirk Watercolor Painting
Seagull Painting by Francis J. Quirk

We had always known of Quirk's love of the sea, sailboats and coastal Maine. However, we had not seen a painting quite like this one before. Late in his life, he painted several landscape paintings as part of his Ossabaw Island Foundation Fellowship. Birds appeared in these paintings, but they were largely accents to the image adding a bit of action and life to placid scenes. There was one exception to this which is his painting of glossy faced ibis which we highlight below.  Thus, we were a bit surprised to see the "42"date which indicated that the work was executed when Quirk was in his mid 30's.

Ibis image, Ibis painting, bird ibis image, Quirk Art, Quirk Painting From Nature
Glossy White Faced Ibis by Francis Quirk

Sunday, April 15, 2018

New Quirk Art Surfaces From a Relative

Two new Francis Quirk paintings have surfaced from a relative of Francis Quirk. This post will focus on the first; a nautical painting. Quirk's summer home, Peterspen North was in Kinney Shores, Maine and he looked forward to spending time there after his retirement from Lehigh University. We suspect that this painting was executed during one of his many summers on the rocky maritime coast. 

We were particularly excited to see this painting of two fishermen heading to sea for two reasons beyond adding it to our growing image library. The first is that it is an attractive painting with an ethereal quality to the sunlight that is particularly pleasing. The ocean has not yet taken on a blue color, but is still reflecting the light of the rising sun. 

Quirk Art, Francis Quirk, Quirk Artist, Quirk Painting, Quirk Painter
Francis Quirk Painting of Fishermen Heading Out to Sea
The second reason is that we have an image of a companion painting. It is a darker composition of a boat heading in the opposite direction. Yet in this companion painting, the sky has become fully blue and the outboard engine powered boat is riding much lower in the water.  There also appears to be cargo in the front. 

Quirk art, Quirk painting, Quirk artist, Quirk painter
Francis J. Quirk Painting "Boat in an Ocean"
We display the paintings below in smaller format side by side for comparison. 

Monday, April 9, 2018

Francis Quirk Curates Stanley Woodward Show in 1964

Continuing in our series on artists whose careers were enhanced through the work of Francis Quirk we look at Stanley Woodward who had a solo show at Lehigh's Alumni Gallery in May of 1964.

Our research into Woodward's show was prompted by the print he signed and dedicated to Quirk that we found among the papers auctioned in 2016 in Maine. The print image is shown  below.

New Hampshire Farm in Winter by Stanley Woodward  

The inscription reads "
From Stanley Woodward 
To Francis J. Quirk
With Warm Regards August 1, 1965"

Quirk Art, Quirk Artist,  Quirk Curator
Inscription to Francis Quirk from Stanley Woodword

We assembled the biography below on Stanley Wingate Woodward from a variety of sources. But do read on further as we have quite a lot to show from this prolific artist. 

Rockport (Massachusetts) painter and illustrator, Stanley Wingate Woodward (1890-1970) was well recognized for his marines and seascapes. He was born in Malden Massachusetts. 

Woodward's education included studies at Eric Pape School Art, School of the Boston Museum Fine Arts, and the Pennsylvania Academy Fine Arts.

He was the author of "Adventures in Marine Painting" (1948) and "Marine Painting in Oil and Watercolor" (1961). He was an illustrator for Collier's and Ford Times magazines. Woodward also was an instructor at the Woodward Outdoor Painting School (1935 -); Ringling Art School (1937-38); and the Laguna Beach School of Art & Design (1963).  He served in the United States Amy in both World Wars. He held numerous exhibitions and one-man shows.

He lived for many years in Rockport, Massachusetts with studios there as well as in Ogunquit Maine. The distinctive natural beauty of the New England coast inspired his passion for nautical subjects, which comprise the majority of his work,

He was represented by Grand Central Art Galleries, NY and the Vose Gallery, Boston.

He was belonged to many organizations and won numerous prizes, National Academy, American Watercolor Society, Baltimore Watercolor Society, the Concord Art Association,   Society of America Etchers, Boston Society of Water Color Painters, Salmagundi Club, Allied Artists American, Guild of Boston Artists, Audubon Artists New York, Rockport Art Association (prize oil 1959, Charles H. Cleaves Memorial award 1965), North Shore Arts Association (past president, Gordon Grant Mmel. award 1967), Springfield Art League (honorary), Philadelphia Water Color Club, and Academy Political Science. Other awards include the Gold medal, Jordan Marsh, 1959, 65, 1st prize watercolor American Academy Artists, Springfield, Massachusetts, 1959, Gaylord Marine prize oils, 1960, Winsor Newton prize, American Professional League, 1962, Mitton Memorial prize, 1965.

He was a member of numerous organizations including  the Concord Art Association,   Society of America Etchers, Boston Society of Water Color Painters, Allied Artists American, Guild of Boston Artists, Audubon Artists New York, Rockport Art Association (prize oil 1959, Charles H. Cleaves Memorial award 1965), North Shore Arts Association (past president, Gordon Grant Mmel. award 1967), Springfield Art League (honorary), Philadelphia Water Color Club, Academy Political Science and the Salmagundi Club.

His paintings can be found in many Museums and Collections including the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Bowdoin College, Amherst College, Fort Worth Museum of Art, The Brooklyn Museum of Art, The Fogg Museum at Harvard University and a host of other private collections.

Stanley Woodward in His Studio

Since both artists were active in the Philadelphia and Ogunquit areas, there is little doubt that Quirk and Woodward met on at least a few occasions. And the affinity might have been enhanced by their sharing an affinity for the sea and a representational style.  One key difference may have been the larger name achieved by Woodward and the long tail that remains in the art world.  For example, a quick search has revealed over a hundred images of Woodward paintings in collections or that have changed hands at auction. When we began this project of learning about Quirk, we were able to locate 10-15 images.

Below is the announcement in the Brown and White describing the exhibition. 

We have made the presumption that Woodward may have influenced Quirk as he was about 17 years older.  Below we present paintings of similar subjects by both artists for you to decide if there is artistic overlap or influence. 

Stanley Woodward

quirk art   Coastal painting
Francis Quirk

It may also be that the two artists were swimming in the same milieu and there are a few types of views that make better paintings. Thus by chance they may have painted the same subjects. 

Stanley Woodward 

Francis Quirk

We will close this post with two paintings by Stanley Woodward that both show the old barn. He painted it a number of times. 

The Old Red Barn by Stanley Woodward

New Hampshire Farm in Winter by Stanley Woodward
May 2018 update. We found the painting below going up for auction at the Sandwich Auction Gallery on Cape Cod. It appears that Woodward loved painting "The Red Barn." Although this one appears different from those above.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Carl Sandburg Portrait by Francis Quirk A Better image of the Pastel Study

Through a fortuitous event the owner of the pastel portrait of Carl Sandburg that we discussed in an earlier post was able to send us a newly taken image from a better angle. 

We were pleased to receive the image as it allows the viewer to gain a better appreciation for the quality of the likeness and its execution.  We are still seeking the final oil portrait. 

Carl Sandburg Pastel Portrait by Francis Quirk  Probably a study for the oil portrait.
Pastel Portrait of Carl Sandburg by Francis J. Quirk

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Francis Quirk's Eclectic Curation Extends to Photography and Ansel Adams

We continue our research on Francis Quirk through his eclectic exhibit schedule while Head of the Art Department at Lehigh University.  Amid the 1951 exhibit schedule, he curated a Photography exhibit that included the works of four world-renowned photographers: Ansel Adams, Maurice Tabard, Andreas Feininger and Bernice Abbott. The four exhibitors were a diverse lot as each had a different style and focus, extending from nature, to fashion to urban documentation. 

Once again, Quirk is a the cutting edge. There are two factors driving this characterization. First, he included a female in an era that could be characterized as less open to artistic work from that gender. And second, it is worth noting that many art galleries would not consider showing photographs until well into the 1960's. Photography was still not treated as a high art like painting. 

This post will focus on Ansel Adams. An extensive biography may be found on the Ansel Adams Gallery Website. In 1951 Adams was well-known but still in the meat of his career. In 1950 he had just published the third of his 8 volumes of photographic folios. He was and remains America's foremost nature photographer. We have excerpted a biography of Mr. Adams below. The original can be found here on

Ansel Adams was born on February 20, 1902, in San Francisco, California. Adams rose to prominence as a photographer of the American West, particularly Yosemite National Park, using his work to promote conservation of wilderness areas. His iconic black-and-white images helped to establish photography among the fine arts. He died in Monterey, California, on April 22, 1984.

Early Life
Ansel Adams was born in on February 20, 1902, in San Francisco, California. His family came to California from New England, having migrated from Ireland in the early 1700s. His grandfather founded a prosperous lumber business, which Adams’ father eventually inherited. Later in life, Adams would condemn that industry for depleting the redwood forests.

As a young child, Adams was injured in the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, when an aftershock threw him into a garden wall. His broken nose was never properly set, remaining crooked for the rest of his life.

Adams was a hyperactive and sickly child with few friends. Dismissed from several schools for bad behavior, he was educated by private tutors and members of his family from the age of 12.

Adams taught himself the piano, which would become his early passion. In 1916, following a trip to Yosemite National Park, he also began experimenting with photography. He learned darkroom techniques and read photography magazines, attended camera club meetings, and went to photography and art exhibits. He developed and sold his early photographs at Best’s Studio in Yosemite Valley.

In 1928, Ansel Adams married Virginia Best, the daughter of the Best’s Studio proprietor. Virginia inherited the studio from her artist father on his death in 1935, and the Adamses continued to operate the studio until 1971. The business, now known as the Ansel Adams Gallery, remains in the family.

Adams’ professional breakthrough followed the publication of his first portfolio, Parmelian Prints of the High Sierras, which included his famous image “Monolith, the Face of Half Dome.” The portfolio was a success, leading to a number of commercial assignments.

Halfdome by Ansel Adams1941

Between 1929 and 1942, Adams’ work and reputation developed. Adams expanded his repertoire, focusing on detailed close-ups as well as large forms, from mountains to factories. He spent time in New Mexico with artists including Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O’Keeffe and Paul Strand. He began to publish essays and instructional books on photography.
Photograph by Ansel Adams

During this period, Adams joined photographers Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans in their commitment to affecting social and political change through art. Adams’ first cause was the protection of wilderness areas, including Yosemite. After the internment of Japanese people during World War II, Adams photographed life in the camps for a photo essay on wartime injustice.

Weeks before the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Adams shot a scene of the moon rising above a village. Adams re-interpreted the image—titled “Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico”—over nearly four decades, making over a thousand unique prints that helped him to achieve financial stability.

Moonrise over Hernandez, New Mexico  by Ansel Adams1941

Later Life
By the 1960s, appreciation of photography as an art form had expanded to the point at which Adams’ images were shown in large galleries and museums. In 1974, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York hosted a retrospective exhibit. Adams spent much of the 1970s printing negatives in order to satisfy demand for his iconic works. Adams had a heart attack and died on April 22, 1984, at the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula in Monterey, California, at the age of 82.

Photograph by Ansel Adams

There is one interesting aside we will add here. Ansel Adams was close to the famous inventor Edwin Land who effectively invented instant photography at Polaroid Corporation- the company he founded. Ansel was funded by Polaroid and his work was in the Corporate Photography collection that was broken up and sold amid controversy in 2010. Edwin Land is buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The author of this blog frequently visits Mr. Land when visiting relatives at the cemetery. 

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Francis Quirk Curates Exhibition of Works of Richard Treaster with those of the Camille and Henry Drefyus Foundation

In our ongoing exploration of the curatorial work of Francis Quirk at Lehigh University, we learned of a 1967 exhibition of the works of Richard Treaster in combination with works held by the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation. 

Watercolorist Richard Treaster was born in Lorain, Ohio in 1932. He earned a BFA from the Cleveland Institute of Art. Treaster became a faculty member at the Cleveland Institute of Art in 1966. 

Treaster has earned many honors for his painting including being one of only 50 living painters represented in The Metropolitan Museum of Arts "200 years of American Watercolor" in 1966. His paintings are in over 200 private collections throughout the United States including the Ford Motor Company, Cleveland Museum of Art, The Butler Museum of Art and the National Academy of Design.

Prior to his 2002 death, Treaster resided in Lakewood, Ohio.

We can see why Quirk might have had an affinity for this artist. Both worked in watercolors. And both were skillful draftsman. While Treaster was not as technically skilled as Quirk, he did have the ability to reproduce an image with considerable accuracy as illustrated in the images below. 

Despite his widespread body of work and some referring to him as the premiere watercolorist of his day, Treaster seems to be largely forgotten. He has not a Wikipedia page and we were able to find only one image of his countenance. One reason may be that watercolors don't display as well in Museums as oils. Thus, they are relegated to periodic exhibitions or buried away in archives for most of their lives. 

The Trip by Richard Treaster

Law and Cleveland   Watercolor by Richard Treaster

The Cellist  Water Color by Richard Treaster  Cleveland Museum of Art

The Group Plan by Richard Treaster 

Vermeer and Times by Richard Treaster 1984

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Two New Francis Quirk Chalk Drawings Come to Light at Ursinus College- Depicted Benefactor Berman Donates Harding Painting to Lehigh

Working on a hunch we reached out to Ursinus College in Allentown, Pennsylvania to see if they had any works by Francis Quirk. As it turned out, they had two chalk drawings. One is dated 1965 and is of an unknown gentleman. The other depicts the philanthropist Philip I. Berman who worked with his wife Muriel to support the arts in Pennsylvania.  This drawing of Berman was included in an A to Z listing of works in the Ursinus collection. Given Berman's love of art, his donations to Lehigh, and now, this drawing their is little doubt that Quirk knew Berman well and had a relationship with him.

Portrait of Philip Berman  by Francis J. Quirk  Image Courtesy of Ursinus College
Philip I. Berman  Philanthropist Businessman

Quirk Drawing  Portrait
Portrait of a man 1964 by Francis Quirk  Image Courtesy of Ursinus College
We include another chalk drawing of Quirk's for comparison purposes. 
Francis J. Quirk Chalk Drawing  Portrait of Smoking Man 1951  Image Courtesy of a Private Collector

The Berman's business pursuits included the Fleetways trucking business which Philip Berman managed from 1965 to 1990, and Hess's department store which the Bermans bought in 1968. Hess's was an old Allentown institution and throve mightily under the Bermans, expanding from a single downtown store to a chain of seventeen stores in two states by the time the Bermans sold it in 1979. In 1975 Muriel Berman opened Hess's Fine Arts Gallery, where she exhibited and sold the work of first rate artists.

The Berman's were avid collectors with a wide variety of interests. Their personal collection would include works by many of the leading names in the modern art movement, from American masters such as Thomas Eakins to Gauguin, Matisse, Renoir and Picasso. The Bermans became a fixture in the art world, traveling through Europe and Israel personally negotiating the purchase of many of his artistic acquisitions. When asked why he bought so many works by each artist he responded with his retailer's philosophy, "If one is good, then 10 is better."

They numbered among their personal friends the artist Francoise Gilot, former mistress of Picasso and mother of Paloma Picasso. When Gilot married Jonas Salk, the inventor of the polio vaccine, she and Muriel Berman shopped for her wedding dress at Hess's.
They regaled their friends with stories of their visits to Henry Moore, whose sculptures occupy prominent positions in the Berman's personal sculpture garden, as well as to Alexander Calder and Marc Chagall.
Berman's list of donations to Museums is impressive. The first outright gift of art for public display may have been the gift of a painting, "Drifting Fog" by George M. Harding, to Lehigh University in 1959.  The work has a coastal flavor to it as it includes sailboats and a lobster trap.  Perhaps Harding crossed paths with Quirk in Maine.
Morning Fog by George M. Harding  Image courtesy of Lehigh University Art Gallery

We do not know if Quirk new George M. Harding, but there is some likelihood as both were active in the eastern Pennsylvania art scene and similar organizations, such as the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art. 

Major gifts of art followed to Ursinus College and Lehigh University as well as to several other colleges and universities in Pennsylvania and to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where Philip Berman became Chairman of the Board of Trustees in 1989. At Ursinus College, to house their gifts of art, the Bermans established in 1984 the Philip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art.

George Matthews Harding  American Painter 

George Matthews Harding (1882–1959) was an American painter, author-illustrator, and a muralist. Born into an artistic family in Philadelphia, Harding was particularly influenced by the art career of his older sister, Charlotte. Following in her footsteps, he studied at the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts, then with the distinguished illustrator-teacher Howard Pyle. In 1903 he began a successful career as an illustrator-author, which included international travel.

On the Trail of the Hun Aylward by George Matthews Harding

After becoming America's first war artist, Harding was particularly intrigued by the new technologies of war. His war pictures are full of guns, airplanes, motorcycles, trucks, and tanks. He returned to American in February 1919 and before the end of the year published a lavish portfolio of his war art, The American Expeditionary Forces in Action.

In 1922, Harding became the head of the department of illustration at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, remaining at the school until his retirement in 1958. During World War II, at age 60, he was once again commissioned as an army captain and created war art in the South Pacific. He was the only AEF artist to serve in both wars. 

Among his work was the murals in the Montgomery County Courthouse. You can read his writings about this work here. He also painted murals for several other Federal buildings including Post Offices as part of the WPA program. 

Ben Franklin Colonial Postmaster- Mural by George Matthews Harding

More can be found in his Wikipedia biography.