|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|Robert Benham was born on June 29, 1913 in Gloucester, Massachusetts.
Raised in Gloucester, Benham was uprooted with his family to Somerville
as he was about to begin high school. He learned about the mysteries of
the sea from his father Robert Burns Benham, who began fishing in the
days of the schooners. "My interest in art, however, started in St.
Clement's High School where I did cartooning, and illustrating for the
paper," he said. Benham made his mark on the school boy sports world as
captain of three sports, football, hockey, and baseball, during his
The rugged athlete played amateur hockey until a back injury placed him
on the sidelines. During time out from painting the winter surf boats
at dock, and teaching art classes, Benham relaxed by cutting a few
figure eights on ice without a hockey stick and puck. The Cape Ann
shoreline and wife, Dorothy, beckoned Benham back to Gloucester in 1937
after a year at the Bucksport Academy in Maine. While rearing
four children, Benham served the Gloucester police force as a patrolman
until 1952, when he was appointed Probation Officer by the District
Court of Eastern Essex.
It is unclear with whom Benham studied art, but, his love for painting
came early and never faded. Encouraged by his teachers, he became
familiar with the work of the great artists, and perfected his own
technique, inspired by his favorites: Corot, Monet, and Winslow Homer.
Vacations found Benham in coastal Maine painting on the spot in
Machias, Monhegan Island, and Vinalhaven. When the surf rolled high
along the Gloucester back shore, Benham was there with easel and
brushes. After leaving his court post in 1968, he devoted all his
attention to works of coastal and woodland New England. "I usually wait
and spend a lot of time observing," he said as he traced the evolution
of a surf painting. I tell my students it entails a lot of study and
observation. I may study a scene for several months before I paint it,"
he said citing a farm scene off the shore route in Rowley. Benham
reminds in soft tones. "How lucky we are to live around here. There are
so many places to explore around Cape Ann."
Benham's works are in many public and private collections. The winner
of many awards, he exhibited his work in several one-man shows. He
taught winter and summer classes, held painting demonstrations, and
once a year taught an artist's workshop in Monhegan Island, Maine.
Robert Benham was a member of the North Shore Art Association, the
Academic Artists, Museum of Fine Arts, Springfield, Massachusetts, and
the Copley Society of Boston among other professional organizations. He
exhibited at the prestigious National Academy of Design in New York,
the Rockport Art Association (several one-man shows), the Gloucester
Art Association (several one-man shows), the Jehangir Art Gallery in
Bombay, India, the Karat Air Force Base, Thailand, as well as, the
continuing exhibit at his Harbor Road, Gloucester home.
Robert C. Benham died after a short illness on June 11, 2002 in Gloucester.
Written and submitted November 2005 by Michael R. Perez, Seagrape Fine Art
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