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Anne Congdon    Click Images to Enlarge

Oscar Adler

(American, 1873-1958)

Born in Nashua NH in 1873 to Governor George A Congdon and Eliza Wilson Ramsdell, Anne Ramsdell Congdon began her art studies at the age of seven. Her endeavor continued at a private school in Worcester, MA, and as a young woman, continued at the Académie Delecluse in Paris. Returning to the U.S., she studied under Rhoda Holmes Nichols, an assistant of William Merritt Chase, in Chase's summer art school near Ogunquit, Maine. While her earliest work - through 1902 - was in watercolor, plein air painting became Congdon's focus, and she began composing her palette in oils. She then took art instruction from American Expressionist Charles Woodbury, a highly revered art instructor in Boston and Perkins Cove, Maine. Woodbury trained his students to see - that is, to strengthen their capacity for both observation and their memory. Woodbury’s use of bold colors, choppy open brushstrokes, and heavy diagonals influenced Congdon’s vibrant palette and loosely applied brushwork.

Congdon became one of the finest talents of the Nantucket Art Colony. During her formative years, she painted delicate watercolor landscapes during summer visits to the island with her husband Dr. Charles D. Congdon. She became an accomplished watercolorist and member of the Society of Arts and Crafts in Boston, but for many years she gave up painting to raise two boys and manage an antique shop in her hometown of Nashua, NH, where her husband was a practicing surgeon. After a hiatus of over twenty years, Congdon returned to painting on Nantucket in 1926. When her husband retired in 1930, the couple permanently moved to the island and lived at 5 Orange Street.

Congdon soon befriended leading figures of the Nantucket Art Colony and during the 1930s she became a regular student of Frank Swift Chase, and her style developed from more thinly painted, smoothly finished works to heavily built-up canvases in which strong shading, sweeping blocks of color, and vigorous impasto created a freshness and vitality characteristic of her evolving style. Typical subjects were waterfront wharves, the Creeks, open pastures, moors, ponds, and lonely farms scattered across the island. Like Charles Woodbury, she completed her paintings without revision. If they did not satisfy her, she would abandon them entirely.

Setting up a studio along Nantucket’s Commercial Wharf, Congdon exhibited regularly at the Easy Street Gallery through the 1940s, as well as showing periodically at the Hope Chest by the footbridge in Siasconset, and in Annie Alden Folger’s shop on Pearl Street. She was an instrumental leader in the early years of the Artists Association of Nantucket and exhibited at the Kenneth Taylor Galleries, where she was included in 1946 in a retrospective of five artists “of national importance” (including Henry S. Eddy, Edgar Jenney, Emerson Tuttle, and Eastman Johnson). She remained actively involved in the community, serving as a trustee of the Old People’s Home, a member of the NHA, and a founder of the Hospital Thrift Shop. Her legacy was in large measure preserved through the efforts of her son, Robert D. Congdon, who collected her works for posterity, and today her canvases are highly sought after.