E Ambrose Webster
(1869 - 1935)
E. Ambrose Webster was active/lived in Massachusetts. E Webster is known for modernist painting and teaching.
E. Ambrose Webster
Biography from the Archives of askART
A painter, lecturer, teacher and also a descendant of Daniel Webster, E
Ambrose Webster was a prominent and pioneering proponent of modernism
on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. By his own painting as well as
lecturing and writing, he promoted a style that moved beyond
Impressionism to a Fauve-like handling of color. One of his
writings was a booklet on color. He was criticized by
traditionalists for participating in the 1913 New York Armory Show that
Biography from Sotheby's New York
Webster was born in Chelsea, Massachusetts,
and studied at the Boston Museum School of Fine Art with Frank Benson
and Edmund Tarbell. From 1896 to 1898, he studied in Paris at the
Academie Julian with Jean Paul Laurens and Benjamin Constant.
1900 in Provincetown, he established a summer school of painting, the
Webster Art School, and was active in the Provincetown Art
Association. He also traveled frequently in Bermuda.
Exhibition venues included the Boston Art Club, the Pennsylvania Academy, the Corcoran Gallery and the Art Institute of Chicago.
American Art Review, April 2002
Peter Falk, Who Was Who in American Art
Born in 1869 in Chelsea, Massachusetts, Edwin Ambrose Webster is best known
today for the Fauvist-inspired landscapes he produced of exotic
locations such as Jamaica, Bermuda and the Azores, as well as of his home
of Provincetown, Massachusetts, where he moved in 1900. Webster
gravitated towards the seaside town for the distinctive quality of light
created by the water. There he opened the Summer School of Art where he
promoted the idea of utilizing the effects of light and shadow on the
landscape to create brilliant color harmonies.
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The late 1920s,
however, marks a distinct shift in Webster's style as he moved away from
the expressive landscapes of his earlier work to embrace an aesthetic
characterized by a remarkable integration of Cubist and figural
"Always analytical by nature," explains Gail R. Scott,
Webster's "work had long evidenced a predilection for linear structure,
though often functioning more as a compositional backbone in his
paintings that are otherwise dominated by spectacular color effects. His
move toward abstraction had been emerging for some time. From this
point onward, composition and line assume paramount importance in the
artist's figural work and in his teaching. In his figurative work, along
with an emphasis on linear, abstracted composition, came a new working
method in the form of extensive preparatory drawings and small studies
leading up to one or more finished versions in oil, as in 'Greenwich Village in Geometry'" (E. Ambrose Webster: Chasing the Sun, Manchester, Vermont, 2009, pp. 168, 172).
Painted in 1929, Greenwich Village in Geometry demonstrates
Webster's interest in and unique interpretation of the theory of
Dynamic Symmetry. As promoted by Jay Hambidge, an illustrator and
mathematician who previously studied under William Merritt Chase,
Dynamic Symmetry emerged as Hambidge's reaction to the Cubist paintings
he first encountered at the Armory Show of 1913.
Based on the ancient
Greek ideals of proportion and symmetry, the concept attracted a number
of American painters in the early 20th century including
Robert Henri, George Bellows and Maxfield Parrish. Hambidge purported
that utilizing the ratios of the diagonals of a square created the
impression of movement in a composition, mimicking the same "dynamic
beauty" present in the natural world.
"As we look back on the art of the 20th
century," Scott continues, "Webster's late paintings make a significant
statement that has yet to be appreciated for its vigor and integrity.
Seen in the context of a figurative artist like Edward Hopper, a Cubist
innovator like Stuart Davis, a Precisionist like Charles Sheeler, or an
individualist like Georgia O'Keeffe, Webster's work stands out for its
chromatic power, strength of design, monumental scale and symbolic
import. He was a precursor, developing new approaches to color and
compositional structure long before other artists began to experiment in
similar ways and helping to shape and define American Modernism"
(Scott, p. 185).
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