Eleanor Parke Custis was profoundly influenced by Japanese woodblock prints, thus her watercolors are distinctive for their deliberate placement of color, often delineated by charcoal, which work together to give her compositions a tapestry-like feel. Her mature style emerged in scenes of the streets and wharves of seacoast villages from Maine to Massachusetts, which she visited during the summers of 1924 and 1925.
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She was working in Gloucester, Massachusetts, in August 1924, and painted several gouaches of the town's waterfront and winding streets, including On the Ways, Gloucester. During her stay, Custis may have met Jane Peterson or at least must have seen her work, the best of which was executed in Gloucester during the preceding ten years. The similarity between their painting styles is unmistakable, yet, while it may be tempting to suggest that Custis was influenced by Peterson while summering in Gloucester, the connection is likely more a case of shared aesthetics and common European influences.
Estate of the artist
(verso of paper) On the Ways, Gloucester / 1924-25
Two Hirschl & Adler Galleries, New York, labels, with description of the painting
Arts Club of Washington, Washington, DC, 1925, no. 7