Book Report: William Partridge Burpee: American Marine Impressionist by D. Roger Howlett (1991)

Book coverYou know, he’s a marine impressionist because he painted seaside towns and whatnot, not because he went to Parris Island. As I come from a family of real Marines, I feel the need to make this distinction early. Not that you would have been confused otherwise, gentle reader; I know you’re discerning. But I wanted to again bask in the reflected glory of my relative who served whilst I studied poetry at the university.

At any rate, Burpee was a late 19th and early 20th century painter from Maine who lived/showed in Boston for a while. He seems to have come from some money, and he worked for a time as a bookkeeper before chucking it all for his art. And he did well, showing in Boston as I mentioned among some of the other notables of the time, including Sargent and Monet. He doesn’t have a Wikipedia page, if you can believe such a thing possible. And you can find his work for sale at a thousand dollars a throw, which means of all the art books I’ve read, his is the most likely for me to acquire to hang alongside my garage sale Renoirs.

At any rate, the work is okay. A lot of landscapes, but some figures, and as you know, I like figures in my Impressionism.

I have mentioned that the text with these books tends to run in two ways: One, you have the critic-themed text talking about the influences and comparing the artist to other works, often looking at an artist’s evolution and using a lot of cant. The second tends to the biographical in nature, and I prefer that because reading a bunch of name-dropping text making comparisons and contrasts that I won’t get bore me.

This book, on the other hand, does both: At the start and end, we get the comparisons, but in the middle, Burpee takes a trip to Europe at like fifty, and he travels through France, Italy, and whatnot for two years. We get a lot more detail about his life at that time, but then we’re back into the other. So a bit whip-sawed, but not bad.

So I’m glad to have read it and glad to have written this review so I can some time in the coming years look back at it and say, “Oh, yeah, that guy.”

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories