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Escape the Summer Heat!

by Franck Mercurio, Publications Editor


frank benson , early evening , American Impressionism , summer , summer vacation , beach towns , north haven , maine , escape the heat

Cincinnati’s summertime temps and high humidity make me long for the beach resorts of the Northeast—towns like Fire Island and Provincetown where generations of urban (and suburban) folk have flocked to escape the heat of summer. It’s a tradition that stretches back well over 100 years when artists, writers, and musicians were often the first to see the potential of these seaside communities, opening the way for tourists to follow.

One artist represented in CAM’s collection, Frank Benson (1862–1951), spent summers with his family on North Haven Island, Maine—an hour’s ferry ride from Rockland—where he painted impressionistic scenes of summer life on the island. In Evening Light (1908) Benson depicts his daughter Eleanor (left foreground) greeting her sisters, mother, and brother returning from a fishing trip. (Notice the artist’s son is carrying the fishing rods over his shoulder.) Benson masterfully captured the dappled light and long shadows of early evening—and everyone looks so cool despite being dressed in what appears to be their Sunday best!

Want to escape to a kinder, gentler summer? Stop by the (air conditioned) Cincinnati Art Museum and visit Evening Light for yourself in Gallery 216. You can also check out some of Benson’s other iconic summertime paintings online, including Summer (Rhode Island School of Design Museum) and Eleanor (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston). Happy travels!

A pastel, impressionistic painting of a woman in a white dress with people approaching her in the distance
Evening Light, Frank W. Benson (American, 1862--1951), 1908, oil on canvas, Kate Banning Fund, © The Frank W. Benson Trust, 1909.33