Painters of local seascapes share a personal connection to MarshfieldBy Lannan M. O’Brien
An upcoming watercolor exhibit at the David Brega Gallery will showcase South Shore seascapes by Elena Prentice and Gustave de Stael (de Stael’s work shown above).
Growing up, Prentice spent summers with her family in Marshfield until it became their year-round home in the 1960s. Her father painted in the area, and she considers his work a “visual guide” in her career. So, too, have been the natural scenes in her daily life.
Prentice describes her work as landscape, and more often than not, seascape, inspired by her fascination with the horizon and the effect of the sky and water meeting. She says that she never needs to look for a subject to paint, as she is constantly observing her surroundings.
“As soon as I wake, I look out the window,” says Prentice. “When I have been away, the first morning [home] is always spent on the beach, greeting the rising sun.”
Prentice and de Stael spend their winters in Tangier, Morocco, where they work in artists’ studios. They travel often and de Stael, who is from Paris, visits family there as frequently as possible. The two began coming to Prentice’s home in Marshfield about 10 years ago and have continued to make the trip every summer, just as Prentice and her family did years ago, staying through September.
De Stael, a plein air painter, works outside at midday when the light is brightest. He says that he paints what he sees, welcoming the occasional passing cloud. De Stael also shares Prentice’s passion for the local landscape. Upon visiting the South Shore for the first time, he says, “I was immediately touched by the subtlety of the landscape and the light, which is so different from France.” In addition to the area’s natural beauty, he says that he finds the local people to be “kind and easygoing.”
Wherever the couple goes, Marshfield remains a constant influence in their work and their lives. Prentice’s relationship with the town has lasted many years, but the foundation for it was established well beforehand—about 100 years ago, when her grandparents purchased a summer home in Old Rexhame that continues to serve as a beloved family gathering place. “My connection to Marshfield is profound and everlasting,” Prentice says.
Prentice, who studied at the Rhode Island School of Design and Hopkins Center at Dartmouth College, moved to Morocco in 2003 after she spent a year there running a small museum. Her work has been in many private and public collections in the United States, France, Belgium, Norway, England, Switzerland, Argentina, Jordan, Tunis and Morocco. De Stael’s work has also been showcased in many countries. For 14 years, he curated exhibitions and concerts as the director of the Association pour la Promotion des Arts at l’Hôtel de Ville de Paris (Association for the Promotion of Arts in the City Hall of Paris). In 2005, he became the director of the Instituts français du nord du Maroc (French Institutes in northern Morocco).
The watercolor exhibit will open August 12. The gallery is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., or by appointment.
More work by Prentice: