Friday, July 13, 2012

Refurbishment of a Little Governors' History

Good news!  Thanks to the generosity of the donors to the Class of 1954 Archives Fund, we were able to have a significant painting restored and ready to display to the community.  The painting, which depicts a wrestling match between Governor Dummer Academy and St. Mark’s School, was painted by WPA artist Waldo Pierce and donated to the school in 1967.  Both the painting and its author have interesting histories.  Pierce was a well known artist during his era.  He was a native of Maine who graduated from Harvard in 1909, he served in the American Field Service ambulance corps during WWI and lived in Paris among other American ex-patriots during the 1920s.  During this time he began a lifelong friendship with writer  Earnest Hemmingway, who had also served as a driver in the ambulance corps.  Peirce returned to the US and became a fairly well known artist.  According to an article in the Harvard alumni magazine, Peirce was often referred to as "the Hemmingway of painters," a description that did not please him. Later in life, he developed a number of friendships in the Newburyport area, including one with former art teacher Kittie Mercer.  As a result of their friendship, in part, Peirce wanted to paint something for the school, and chose as his subject a wrestling match between Governor Dummer Academy and St. Marks School.  The story about the painting that I was told mentions an older woman in the bottom section of the painting who was running.  Apparently, her grandson was wresting for GDA and she was not happy with the action on the mat and ran onto the mat and began pulling the hair of the opposing wrestler.  I’d love any additional information about the painting and its story that people could provide.  In the meantime, I will enjoy the beautifully restored painting and look forward to the start of school when it can be displayed for others to appreciate as well.