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Brockenbrough, Eleanor Gloucester Fishing Boats, 1924


Eleanor Brockenbrough was born in Lafayette and studied with Eric Pape in Boston; at the Art Institute of Chicago with F. F. Fursman, C. H. Hawthorne, and H. H. Breckenridge; and at the Ferguson Art Colonies in East Gloucester, Massachusetts. In 1929 she was elected the first woman president of the Lafayette Art Association. She was a member of the Indiana Artists Club, Indianapolis; North Shore Arts Association, Gloucester; and Art Institute Alumni Association, Chicago.

  • Gloucester Fishing Boats, 1924
  • 18″ x 16″
  • Art Museum of Greater Lafayette
  • Keywords: paintings, natural landscapes, oil on canvas
  • Subjects: outdoors, rivers, oceans, boats

This painting is Impressionist, with strong reflections that almost blend the boats into the water. Complementary color schemes help to achieve the feeling of motion in the water. The white sail and its reflection pull the viewer’s eye in to the middle of the painting, making this a well-balanced composition. In a letter to the Art Museum of Greater Lafayette, Brockenbrough said that artists who painted boats in Gloucester had to paint quickly because the tide caused the vessels to become “quite animated” and change positions.

Some Points to Consider

  • View the painting with the class and ask: What is the style of this painting? Ask students to give examples of what makes it Impressionist. (Art 4.2.2)
  • Ask students to look at the painting and then describe where their attention is focused. Have them speculate on how the artist has accomplished that focus. Ask why they think the location of the people in the painting contributes to the focus. (Art 4.7.2)
  • Ask students if this painting creates a sense of calm or of action and movement. Why do they think so? (Art 4.3.1)
  • Have students identify geometrical shapes used in this composition. (Art 4.7.2)

Suggested Activities for Classroom Follow-Up

  • Explain to students the concept of reflection. Have them bring to class pictures of artworks or photos from magazines that show reflection. Using a pan of water and a moveable light source, have students create reflections on objects in the classroom. Explain that people who live near a river or an ocean might think a painting of boats shows an everyday scene. Ask students to think of a common cultural scene from everyday life in 21st-century Indiana, then give them time to sketch in their journals. When they have finished drawing, have students swap journals and then take turns describing what their classmates have drawn. Was it an easy-to-recognize scene? Why or why not? (Art 4.1.1, 4.1.3, 4.2.2, 4.3.2, 4.5.1)