George Pearse Ennis (1884-1936)

At their monthly meeting in May 2017, the Acquisitions Committee was excited to accept the gift of George Pearse Ennis' undated watercolor Village Carpenter from Barry Huffman. The gift, she said, celebrates the appointment of Jon Carfagno as the fifth Director of the Hickory Museum of Art.

"George Pearse Ennis is one of those men, alert and zestful but not officious in their energies who add to the satisfaction we take in living in our own times." (The American Magazine of Art, April 1929.)  Ennis was known for his evocative landscapes and seascapes as well as for his expressive use of strong colors. His principal medium and the one for which he is best known was watercolor, but he also worked in oils, pastel, charcoal and pencil, along with stained glass. In the 1936 image on the far right, he is designing one of the panes for a set of windows at West Point celebrating the life of George Washington. It would turn out to be his last work, in that he died in an automobile accident shortly thereafter.

Born in St. Louis, Ennis turned down an appointment to West Point in favor of becoming an artist. He studied at several art schools; and by the age of 21 had already established himself both as a painter and a teacher, having founded a summer art colony in Eastport, Maine. He went on to found the George Pearse Ennis School of Painting in New York City, and at separate times he headed the John and Mable Ringling Art Museum in Florida and was President of the New York Watercolor Club. And, of course, he continued to paint even while doing everything else too. His prolific art garnered many honors and awards during his life, and he continues to be collected, including by many museums.

Village Carpenter joins three other undated Ennis works in HMA's Permanent Collection, all oils on canvas, two of them gifts from Paul Whitener in 1957 and the third a bequest from Mickey Whitener Coe. Left to right above, they are The Beachcombers (1957.1.2), Fishing a Bayou (1957.1.1), and Birth of a Piece of Armour (2008.15.62). 

in 1947, HMA' opened its fall season with a two month Outstanding American Artist exhibit of eleven works by Ennis.on loan from a private collector.

Post by Karin Borei, HMA Project Coordinator, writer and editor as needed, and HMA blogger since March 2015.