Whistler House Museum of Art
243 Worthen Street
Through July 21
Two Guild of Boston Artist members exhibit at the birthplace of James MacNeill Whistler
Let your eyes taste the fruits of two artists’ painstaking, life-long pursuit — the fixing
of persona, landscape and object still-life on canvas through the teachings of classical
realist painting. In an age of mass-market digital imaging and instant gratification,
the Guild of Boston Artists steadfastly argue through virtue of their actions (and sheer
collectibility) that their “old-school” model can still be relevant today.
Mary Minifie is best known for her awardwinning portraiture, with commissions including the Boston Ballet and the
National Cathedral in Washington. Robert Douglas Hunter is famed for pristine still-lifes, carefully composed
in his Boston studio from a well-studied collection of objects. Affectionately known as the “Dean of The Boston
School,” Hunter served as president of the Guild of Boston Artists from 1973- 1978. While not a brick and mortar
institution, the “Boston School” label is loosely applied to regional realist painters trained by masters whose
techniques were derived from R.H. Ives Gammell’s (1893–1981) adaptation of French atelier instruction.
Of the Boston School artists: “We are looking for the Big Atmospheric Effects,”
explained Minifie via phone. “Working from the ‘big drawing’… the biggest effects and color relationships, down
to the details … almost like a sculptor would work from a block of clay.”
Hunter’s still-lifes will grab your eyes
and keep them hostage. Depictions of stoneware, glass, copper and brass vessels from his beloved collection
breathe like living beings on subtle grounds of varied color. A token object from the natural world ties together each
painstakingly arranged composition — the tawny crimson of sumac, the coral blush of a pink lady apple, the dry sepia
of a pinecone.