As the “Dean of the Cape Ann School,” Frederick Mulhaupt was widely celebrated for his vibrant harbor scenes. Cape Ann, Massachusetts, a picturesque seaport north of Boston, has long been an artistic haven. Literally steeped in history, Gloucester, Essex, and Rockport have sparked successful industries in overseas trade, fishing, shipbuilding, and rock quarrying for over three centuries. In the nineteenth century, Winslow Homer recorded the activity of the area’s sailing and fishing industries, while Fitz Hugh Lane transfigured its harbors into a vision of transcendental calm; in the twentieth, Marsden Hartley responded to the primeval pull of Dogtown
To this tradition must be added Mulhaupt, who painted Cape Ann’s docks, wharfs, boats, and workmen in a vivid Impressionist style. Born in another Rockport—Rock Port, Missouri—Mulhaupt trained at the Art Institute of Chicago and sought further study in France. He spent several years in Paris, absorbing the work of the Impressionists and exhibiting at the Paris Salon, before being called to Cape Ann. Mulhaupt first arrived in Cape Ann in 1907 and returned to the region each year.
Winter was Mulhaupt’s favorite season to put to canvas, and he became known as an artist capable of bringing out the color of winter. His chilly scenes register chromatic subtleties in the manner of light refracted through a prism; white tones are separated out into hundreds of individual colors. This interest in light is visible in all of his work, in which he portrayed Gloucester under the guise of different seasons and climatic conditions. Like the best Impressionists, Mulhaupt found one location that afforded a variety of ephemeral atmospheric effects; Gloucester became his Giverny. The lure of the region drew him ever closer, and the devoted visitor became a year-round resident in 1923.
Mulhaupt was a member of the National Academy of Design and helped to found the Palette and Chisel Club, the Allied Artists of America, and the North Shore Arts Association. He won prizes from the Salmagundi Club, the Allied Artists American Union, the Connecticut Academy of Fine Arts, and the Ogunquit Art Club. His work is in the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, the Albuquerque Museum, the Reading Public Museum, the Cape Ann Historical Museum, and the North Shore Arts Association Museum.
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