An artist noted for his vibrant canvases of Nantucket’s rambling lanes, alleys and light-splashed waterfront, Henry Stephens Eddy used a bright palette and generous amounts of paint, mixed with choppy, expressive brushwork to capture light at a specific time of day.
Indeed, a review of the Easy Street Gallery’s first exhibition in the Inquirer and Mirror singled out Eddy for praise: “One feels in (his canvas) the beauty and quietude of the early morning.” This gallery, opened in 1924, dominated the art scene in Nantucket at the height of the early Art Colony years and Eddy was an extremely popular exhibitor.
Born in Rahway, New Jersey, the artist later lived in Upper Montclair, and eventually settled in Westfield, New Jersey. Eddy received his early education at the Pingry School in Elizabeth, where his art instructor was August Mills. He began his formal art training at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and later attended the Art Students League in New York City under an impressive array of teachers that included John H. Twachtman and Stephen A. Douglas Volk. Eddy also studied with George E. Browne and with Alphonse Mucha who came to the US and taught in New York City between 1906 and 1910. He began exhibiting at the National Academy of Design in 1919 and continued showing his work there almost yearly until 1933.
Eddy discovered Nantucket via the Provincetown Art Colony, which he visited beginning in 1920 together with fellow members of the Art Students League. Through a Montclair acquaintance, Eddy and his wife traveled to Nantucket in the summer of 1922 where they rented one of Florence Lang’s waterfront studios. Nantucket, it was said, was a village of memories and those memories he sought to capture on canvas. While on there, he lived in the heart of the Art Colony in a series of studios that included Barnsite on lower Main Street, the Forge studio (Main Street), and ultimately purchased 119 Main Street as his summer home.
Lifetime achievements included being a founder and a former president, of the Westfield Art Association. He was also a member of the Artist Fund Society, Allied Artists of America, American Painters, Plainfield Art Association, Salmagundi Club, Lotus Club, and the Montclair Art Association. In addition, he was also a member of the Nantucket Yacht Club, a natural affinity for a painter drawn to marine scenes who also happened to be the great-grandson of a New Bedford captain of the whaling ship Ann and Mary. The artists’ work is included in the collection of the Milwaukee Art Institute, The Artnot Art Gallery, and the Lotus Club, as well as many local Nantucket collections.
The artist died there on August 9, 1944.
Biographical information excerpted from the exhibition catalog: The Nantucket Art Colony, 1920-1945 Nantucket Historical Association, 2007; Information also provided by the Westfield Art Association Archives.
Written and submitted by Edward T. Bentley, researcher of Lansing, Michigan