There are occasions when just one painting can establish the greatness of an artist in the collector’s mind.
Over the years of looking at hundreds, if not thousands, of works by Cape Ann artists, I had seen the occasional modest watercolor or etching by Cape Ann native-born G. W. Harvey and was unimpressed. There was an authenticity about them, but there didn’t seem to be the skill arising from disciplined study that I associate with a top- quality academic artist.
Then, in 2000, while working with my son Kristian and other advisors on The Artists of Cape Ann, we discovered Harvey’s masterpiece Spearing Flounders, owned by Terry Vose of Vose Galleries, and all my preconceived notions about George W. Harvey disappeared. It instantly became my son’s favorite image in the book, and it vied for the front cover image but had to settle for making the back cover. It is probably the master- piece for the artist... and of course it initiated a desire to own one (or more) of his works. By dropping his name from time to time among dealers that might have the rare exceptional example, I uncovered an amazing little pair of Annisquam snow pieces that defied anything I’ve seen by him, including other larger and very good snow scenes done in Annisquam. I bought this pair in 2002 from the back seat of a dealer’s car who had just bought them himself and had not yet brought them into his gallery. These are really worth a close study of the technique Harvey developed for applying the paint.