As part of Maine’s Bicentennial in 2020, the Tides Institute & Museum of Art mounted during the summer of last year an exhibition of works from its collections ranging in date from 1820 to the present. In addition, the Tides Institute will publish a Bicentennial book featuring 100 works from its collections and the stories behind the works and how they came into the Tides Institute’s collection. Each week, one of the selected works will be featured in our weekly online posting, CulturePass, to this region’s cultural activities and on our website here.
This week’s piece is an oil painting, “Eastport and Passamaquoddy Bay,” by Victor de Grailly. It dates to about 1845. De Grailly was a French landscape artist who studied under Jean-Victor Bertin and exhibited in Paris. The painting was based on an engraving of a very similar scene in the book, American Scenery, published in London in 1840 by George Virtue, and that contains a large number of engravings of scenes across the United States based on drawings by William Henry Bartlett. It is doubtful that de Grailly ever came to the United States to paint the scene first hand. The painting captures a view of the U.S. / Canada coastal border country of Passamaquoddy Bay as seen from Lubec, Maine looking north to Pope’s Folly island with the then town of Eastport, Maine in the distance. Several well-dressed people are shown along the shore in the foreground of the painting with numerous ships under sailing in the bay beyond. This was one of the first works of art acquired by the Tides Institute and the institute did so, in part, to make a statement of its aims and ambitions. It was purchased from C.L. Prickett of Yardley, Pennsylvania in 2003. De Grailly evidently had success with the painting that he made several copies, one of which was acquired by the White House in Washington, D.C. during the administration of President Gerald Ford.