|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|Landscape and marine painter Charles Paul Gruppe was born in Picton,
Canada, September 3, 1860. Largely self-taught, Gruppe did study
in Holland and a good portion of his work consists of Holland inspired
scenes. He should not be confused with his son, artist Emile
Gruppe, who painted many well-known New England scenes. |
Gruppe was ten, he moved with his family to Rochester, New York, after
the death of his father. Interested in painting from an early
age, he spent much of his time sketching and creating watercolors and
oils. To help support his mother and sisters, he worked in a
sign-painting shop, soon mastering the craft.
age twenty-one, he had earned enough money to travel steerage to
Europe, where he traveled through France, Germany, and Holland,
searching for a place to settle and practice his art. He was
taken with Holland, perhaps attracted to its fishing villages with
their picturesque boats and quaint houses, and decided to stay.
He built a home and studio in the little fishing village of Katwyk Ann
Zee and painted much of his European work in the vicinity of that town.
While in Holland, his skill at subtle coloration and careful
draftsmanship became so identified with the Dutch School of painting
that he was elected to the exclusive Pulchre Studio in the in the
Hague, something highly unique for an American. Members of the Dutch
Royal Family collected his work, which included portraits of the Dutch
people as well as genre, marine, and countryside scenes. Many of
his paintings are of the Zuider Zee and of Sheveningen, where he had a
vacation villa. Charles Gruppe's work, This Painting, (ca 1903), which depicts a
sailboat tied to a quay in icy waters, is one example of the silver
gray tonalist paintings in which he specialized when he was in Holland.
Altogether, Gruppe spent over twenty years in Holland, becoming a
celebrity artist and ultimately being patronized by the royalty of
Europe. His work is represented in many museums in America and
Gruppe returned to America, becoming both a painter
and dealer/broker in the art of Dutch painters, and popularizing Dutch
art among American collectors and art connoisseurs. His son, Emile, who
was to also become a well-known painter, was born at the family
residence in Rochester in 1896. Soon thereafter the Gruppes moved
back to Katwyk Ann/Zee, Holland, but in 1909, the family returned to
the United States as the clouds of World War I gathered.
their ancestry was originally in the Hamburg area of Germany, they at
this time added an accent to 'e' of the Gruppe name to make it appear
The elder Gruppe, Charles, found an
apartment/studio at Carnegie Hall in New York City. His son Emile
also wanted to paint, and, in addition to teaching him himself, Charles
sent him to the best teachers, including Frederic Bridgman for figures
and drawing, Emil Carlson for landscapes and values; and Charles
Hawthorne, for figures and color. Charles Gruppe had been an
essentially self-taught artist but determined that his son would have
the best teachers.
In 1925, after seeing an exhibition in New
York that featured the beautiful winter harbor scenes of Gloucester by
Frederick Mulhaupt, the Gruppe father and son team headed to Cape Ann,
to see for themselves. "Mulhaupt got the smell of Gloucester on
canvas", Emile had said. Father and son were already fond
of seacoasts and seaports, and both Gruppes soon fell in love with Cape
They both continued to paint in the Cape Ann area for the
rest of their lives. The elder Charles P. Gruppe died at age 80
in Rockport, Massachusetts, on September 30, 1940 at his studio where
he had been established during the summers for 15 years. The
remainder of each of those years, he had spent in New York City, where
he was an active member of the Salmagundi Club.
Until 1929, the two Gruppes, father and son, shared a studio on
Bearskin Neck in Rockport. Then Emile decided make his own
fortune and moved to nearby Gloucester where he purchased an old school
house on Rocky Neck.
Despite his stern look, Charles Gruppe
was said to have a sunny and optimistic disposition. He had
little formal education and no visible advantages in his early
youth. All he did have was a strong love of painting which seemed
inborn to him, as it was to generations of his family. He painted
thousands of paintings in his life that are in the finest collections
of Europe and America.
four of his children were exposed
to art and artists at tender ages, and eventually all established
themselves in the arts: sculptor, Karl, was a member of the National
Academy; musician, Paulo, is a cellist. Virginia was a
watercolorist/art dealer who painted Rockport and Gloucester scenes and
owned a gallery selling Gruppe and other paintings in Rochester, New
York, where she lived until her death in the 1960s. Charles' son,
Emile, was a highly regarded painter. Emile's son, Robert C.
Gruppe is also an artist and operates a studio in Rocky Neck
today; Paolo's son, Charles C. Gruppe, born 1928, became a
painter in Connecticut. Work by this younger Charles Gruppe is
often signed C. Gruppe, while work by the grandfather normally is
signed Chas. P. Gruppe.
Charles Paul Gruppe was honored with
numerous awards and medals, including gold medals at Paris and Rouen,
and two silver medals (watercolor and oil) at the World's Fair in St.
Louis in 1903.
Michael David Zellman, 300 Years of American Art
Plein Air Magazine, September 2005
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