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Elwell, D. Jerome

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D. Jerome Elwell was born in 1847 in Gloucester, Massachusetts. He and his Gloucester-born cousin, Kilby W. Elwell, painted in 1850s and 1860s, many of same landscape subjects as Lane. Towards the end of his life he travelled through Europe and died in 1912 in Naples, Italy.

"He doubtless saw all he could of the artist Fitz H. Lane; but whether he ever received any instruction from Mr. Lane, the writer is not aware. He admired his work, and once said of a marine by Mr. Lane, then owned by James H. Mansfield: "He painted that sky con amore, didn't he?"

—Helen Mansfield, Daniel Jerome Elwell (unpublished document in the collection of the Cape Ann Museum)

Burnt Ruins of Town House on Dale Avenue
D. Jerome Elwell
Oil on canvas
15 x 24 in.
Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Mass., Gift of Harold and Betty Bell, 1980 (2211)
Moonlight View of Gloucester Harbor
Probably by Mary Blood Mellen, or possibly by D. Jerome Elwell
Oil on canvas
13 x 20 1/4 in.
Shelburne Museum, Vt.

This picture is less clearly an exact copy and more of a variation on the theme. It could be by either Mellen or D. Jerome Elwell, a Gloucester artist of a generation younger than Lane who very much admired the older man's work and consciously began his own career working in Lane's style. In this case there is an obvious hardness of surfaces, an over-meticulousness in the lighting of details, and an obviousness in the stark silhouettes—all atypical for Lane.

Elwell is a more complicated personality, but his copies after Lane are equally challenging. One was his recreation of Lane's 1856 view of Gloucester burned in the 1864 fire. After Lane's death, Elwell also "touched upon" several pictures. Others in the family, like Kilby Elwell, had artistic tastes, and as a boy, Jerome began to make pencil copies after other works.

Much younger than Lane, D. Jerome Elwell completed high school in Gloucester in the last years of Lane's life and shortly after went to Antwerp to study. This travel was made possible by the generosity of Samuel Sawyer, a patron as well of Lane's in the 1860s. During the seventies Elwell traveled around the Low Countries and elsewhere in Europe, at one time (it was said) sharing a studio with Whistler in Venice. Like Lane before him, he cultivated a taste for twilight and moonlight effects, though Elwell's style tended to be harsher and his colors more metallic.

– John Wilmerding

Also filed under: Mellen, Mary Blood »

Untitled (Ships Anchored in Gloucester Harbor)
D. Jerome Elwell
Watercolor on paper
8 3/4 x 19 3/4 in.
Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Mass., Gift of Rev. and Mrs. A. A. Madsen, 1950
Accession # 1468

Fishing schooners in Gloucester's outer harbor, probably riding out bad weather.

Citation: "Historical Materials." Fitz Henry Lane Online. Cape Ann Museum.§ion=Elwell%2C+D.+Jerome (accessed July 23, 2024).
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