Monday, November 28, 2016

The Edward H. Coates Memorial Collection

The Edward H. Coates Memorial Collection (1923)
Florence Earle Coates presented The Edward H. Coates Memorial Collection to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia in 1923. The exhibition, representing French and American schools, included 27 paintings and 3 pieces of sculpture, and was displayed between 4 November 1923 and 10 January 1924. Edward Hornor Coates was Academy president from 1890 to 1906, and died on 23 December 1921.

A portrait bust of Edward H. Coates
by Charles Grafly (1903)
was included in the collection
Also included in the collection is William Trost Richard's Old Ocean's Gray and Melancholy Waste (1885). I long thought that this painting was the inspiration for Mrs. Coates' "Mid-Ocean" until I stumbled upon Richards’ painting entitled Mid-Ocean (1869). Mid-Ocean is similar to that of Old Ocean’s Gray, except the latter contains no sign of a sailing vessel in the distance.

A WASTE of heaving waters to the far horizon's rim,
     And over them a vault of leaden gray;
No warmer tint or shading to relieve the aspect dim,
     Save where the riven billows break away,
Revealing as we part them to the left hand and the right,
Beneath each curling crest of foam, the marvellous green light.
Here midst the heaving billows—this unending stretch of sea
     Where scarce an ocean-bird has strength to fly,
Unnumbered leagues from any strand where habitations be,
     Alone, no comrade vessel sailing nigh,
The deep unplumbed beneath us, and, above, a frowning dome,
I do but turn my eyes on thee, and straightway it is home!
"Mid-Ocean" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Lyrics of Life (1909) and Poems (1916) Volume I.


Old Ocean's Gray and Melancholy Waste (1885)
by William Trost Richards
still part of the permanent collection at the
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA)

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