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Friday, May 7, 2010

Rockport, Mass. and Motif #1

This is Rockport, Massachusetts from The Headlands, and the eye-catching red shack on the wharf is unmistakably Motif #1.

It stands on Bradley Wharf, and what was originally a fishing shack where sails and tackle and boats were stored has since become reputedly the most favorite subject in the world of scenic landscape art. Painter Lester Hornby is credited to have dubbed it Motif #1 in reference to its popularity among artists.

It was built in the 1840s, and was destroyed in the Blizzard of 1978, but a replica was built with all due haste that year to keep alive Rockport’s cherished tourist trademark. Rockport has owned the building since 1945, when the town purchased it from artist John Buckley, who used it for his studio.

The 1938 WPA Guidebook for Massachusetts refers to the color of the building as brown. It would be interesting if know if anyone has knowledge of it being any other color than red.

For more on Motif #1, have a look at this website, and also this very interesting essay on its history.

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