In addition to the famous red fishing shack and other sites along the waterfront, Rockport’s historic granite quarries became popular subjects for the Cape Ann colony. The history of granite quarrying in Massachusetts is well-documented, dating back to the turn of the nineteenth century and only coming to a gradual close following the Great Depression.
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By the mid-1800s, the Cape Ann region came to dominate the industry thanks to its unique way of fashioning raw granite into practical blocks used as paving stones, which were shipped to rapidly growing cities across the country. Most of these painters’ depictions of the quarries showed them long past their prime and filled with water after years of vacancy due to the stock market crash and increasing use of steel and concrete in construction. Hibbard’s view of Swan Quarry, however, captures the site still in use as laborers set to the task of extracting and preparing the stone for export, a vocation that served as the economic backbone of Rockport for generations, second only to fishing. The steep, angled walls of the quarry are rendered with his perceptive sense of light and shadow, while the dappled brushwork is a hallmark of his early work. Hibbard would later translate this painting into a larger canvas that is now in the collection of the Rockport National Bank.
By descent through the family of the artist
1). (stamp verso, twice) A. T. Hibbard / Collection
2). A. T. Hibbard Collection / Ledgendsea / Gallery / Rockport / Massachusetts