Summer afternoon, circa 1921 signed 'Paul Dougherty' (lower left) oil on canvas 26 x 36in overall: 35 x 46in
PROVENANCE: College collection in Illinois; Private collection, until 1998 Private collection, Los Angeles, California
Paul Dougherty was trained as a lawyer but chose painting as his profession. He was a prolific painter whose work was extensively exhibited and won him a number of coveted awards throughout his lifetime. Primarily self-trained, Dougherty was acknowledged in his lifetime as a gifted marine painter, whose rugged coastal scenes of Maine, Cornwall, Brittany, and the Monterey Peninsula earned him the reputation of wearing the mantle of Winslow Homer. Like the older distinguished American artist, Dougherty preferred to depict churning turbulent waters, pounding against rocky outcroppings along the coasts with an element of simplicity.
Although Dougherty settled on the Monterey Peninsula around 1932 because of his arthritic condition, exhibition records inform us that he was painting in that region as early as 1919. He was obviously interested in capturing the light at different times a day, according to the entries recorded in his exhibition records. Broken color and optical blending showed that he was an exponent of Monet, whose art he undoubtedly saw as he traveled in Europe during the turn of the century. In this painting, Dougherty selects the bright light of a summer afternoon to highlight the rocky forms on the left and the churning waters beyond, while the dark rocks in the foreground are cast in shadow.
Well grounded in scientific geological knowledge as demonstrated in the compactness and texture of his rock forms, Dougherty's marine paintings nevertheless, like Summer Afternoon, are imbued with a certain poetic and romantic charm.
We are grateful to Patricia Trenton, Ph.D. for her assistance in writing this essay.