Charles Edwin Lewis Green

Artist Biography

American Impressionist specializing in landscapes, particularly coastal seascapes of Massachusetts

By Kate Amundsen

A member of the Lynn Beach Painters group, Green became one of America’s most prized painters.

I. Biography
II. Chronology
III. Collections
IV. Exhibitions
V. Memberships
VI. Notes
VII. Suggested Resources

I. Biography

Charles Edwin Lewis Green, commonly referred to as C.E.L. Green, was an American impressionist most well-known for capturing the beauty of the various sea and landscapes in his native Massachusetts, where he spent most of his life.[1] In addition to his impressionist style, he was also a member of the tonalist group of painters, American artists who pulled inspiration from the French Barbizon style where shadow and mood were stressed.

Green began his life as an entrepreneur and businessman with forays into several industries. He used the money from these endeavors to take art classes, his true passion. Surprisingly, he did not start painting until he was thirty-five, after his father died and he felt that he could freely pursue his desires. Later in life he served as a councilman in Lynn, Massachusetts, where he would later become a member of the Lynn Beach Painters. He married Ruth A. Alley, with whom he had four children.[2]

As a member of the Lynn Beach Painters, Green was greatly influenced by the French and Dutch Old Masters, and captured the beaches and coastal scenes in the areas surrounding Lynn. The town was very supportive of the arts, with shopkeepers that displayed paintings in their storefronts, an active auction scene, and even citizens who helped to found the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The Lynn Evening Drawing School provided free instruction to the largely immigrant community and members of the Lynn Beach painters, including Green, occasionally acted as instructors.

Green encountered many artists during his travels and schooling, leading to a wide variety of influences. His primary tutor, however, was Charles Woodbury at the Lynn Evening Drawing School. Green’s favored subject matter was landscape, and in particular coastal seascapes, in Massachusetts. He was known as “an earnest and enthusiastic worker…whose pictures show a vigorous, free handling, a fine conception of color and delicacy of feeling, that places him among leading landscapists.”[3] He did occasionally include other elements into his landscapes, such as livestock, nautical and marine themes, as well as local residents when a figurative aspect was necessary. He also followed the plein-air painting technique, as did many of his impressionist counterparts.

As his style matured, he mastered greater techniques, such as atmospheric perspective, which were learned during his travels through England, France and Italy. Such travel was only possible after his 1887 exhibition, organized by J. Eastman Chase, in which he sold fifty-nine paintings. While abroad, his greatest influence was his time spent in Cornwall, England, where he had another important exhibition with J. Eastman Chase in Newlyn.

He retired to Lynn in 1910 for a brief respite before he died there in 1915.[4]

II. Chronology

1844 Born in Massachusetts.
1860s–1870s Works in business world, using to pay for art classes.
1869 Marries Ruth A. Allen.
1879 Starts painting training
1881 Green’s father dies and he starts painting professionally
1882 Leaves business world completely.
1887 J. Eastman Chase, principal promoter, hosts large exhibition of Green’s work; fifty nine paintings sell.
1890 Helps found the Lynn Art Club.
1890 Returns home from European travels.
1891 J. Eastman Chase organizes exhibition of Green’s work in Newlyn, Cornwall, England.
1910 Green’s last public exhibition.
1915 Green dies in Lynn, Massachusetts.

III. Collections

Fogg Art Museum, MA
Lynn Historical Society, MA
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
Peabody Essex Museum, MA
The Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland, OH

IV. Exhibitions

1880 Lynn Museum
1887 J. Eastman Chase principal promoter’s exhibition sells fifty nine paintings at J. Eastman Chase Gallery, Boston
1891 J. Eastman Chase’s gallery, Eastman Chase Gallery, Newlyn, Cornwall
1892 The St. Botolph Club
1895–1900 Boston Art Club Watercolor Exhibitions
1896 The Jordan Gallery
1897 The Brookline Education Society First Art Exhibition
1907 The Boston Art Club
1910 First Annual Exhibition of the Lynn Art Club
1998 Lynn Historical Society, retrospective

V. Memberships

Boston Art Club
Lynn Art Club
Lynn beach painters
Lynn Historical Society
Museum of Fine Arts
St. Botolph Club, Boston

VI. Notes

1. Peter Hastings Falk, Who was who in American Art: 1564–1975 (New York: Marquis Who’s Who, 1999), 690–4.
2. D. Roger Howlett, The Lynn Beach painters: Art Along the North Shore, 1880–1920 (Lynn, Massachusetts: Lynn Historical Society, 1998), 29–40.
3. C.E.L. Green and Frederic Alan Sharf, 1844–1915: Shore and Landscape Painter of Lynn and Newlyn (Salem: Essex Institute, 1980), 18–21.
4. Nancy Jarzombek, Boston Art Club: 1855–1950 (Boston, Vose Galleries, 2000), 74–8.

VII. Suggested Resources

1. Green, C.E.L., Sharf, Frederic Alan. 1844–1915: Shore and Landscape Painter of Lynn and Newlyn. Salem, Essex Institute, 1980.
2. Falk, Peter Hastings. Who was who in American Art: 1564–1897. New York: Marquis Who’s Who, 1999.
3. Howlett, D. Roger. The Lynn Beach painters: Art Along the North Shore, 1880–1920. Lynn, Massachusetts, Lynn Historical Society, 1998.
4. Jarzombek, Nancy. Boston Art Club: 1855–1950. Boston, Vose Galleries of Boston, 2000.
5. Karpel, Bernard. Arts in America: a bibliography Archives of American Art. Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press, 1979.
6. Naylor, Maria. The National Academy of Design exhibition record, 1861-1900. New York: Kennedy Galleries, 1973.

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