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Edgar Corbridge (1901 – 1988)

Updated: May 11, 2022

Windblown Tree, c. 1940s, watercolor on paper 22 x 14 inches, signed lower right, unframed


About the Painting

Reacting to a solo exhibition at Margaret Brown Gallery in Boston, a critic compared Corbridge to America's most notable precisionist painter, Charles Sheeler: “Corbridge at first seems a disciple of Sheeler…but, although the Massachusetts painter also stresses simplification…he also reveals more feeling than Sheeler, a more poetic use of delicate color tints, a warmer affinity to natural things which ought to look that way in a perfect world.” This critic could have been describing Windblown Tree, as Corbrige depicts the buildings with the firm hand and keen eye of his fellow precisionist painters which results in solid, clear forms, while the tree and grass in the foreground provide the lyric quality of nature. Alternating between the opacity of a fully loaded brush and thin washes of watercolor, Corbridge deftly captures the beauty of the natural landscape and the manmade buildings with equal facility.

About the Artist

Edgar Corbridge was a Massachusetts-based precisionist painter who mainly employed watercolor as his preferred media. In 1916, three years after immigrating from England, Corbridge completed a course of study in sign painting at the Fall River, Massachusetts Technical High School and obtained an apprenticeship with the Armour Sign Shop. Throughout his career, Corbridge was mainly self-taught as a fine artist. In 1918, Corbridge received his first recognition as an artist for his entry in a Fall River Women’s Club poster competition. During much of his professional life, Corbridge worked as a self-employed window trimmer and operator of the Corbridge Display Service, supplemented by income from the occasional sale of his paintings. Corbridge gleaned the subjects for his works in and around his home in Fall River, Massachusetts, as well as Provincetown. In the 1940s, Corbridge began to exhibit frequently, including at the annual exhibitions at the Jordan Marsh Company in Boston (where he also served as a judge), the Newport Art Association, the Providence Art Club, The Rhode Island School of Design Museum, the Corcoran Gallery, the Portland (Maine) Society of Artists, the Springfield (Massachusetts) Artist League, as well as a number of other institutions. Critics recognized Corbridge for his “extraordinary tonal quality” as well as “clarified, designed reality, which reduces the confusion of nature to fundamental form.” These attributes caused critics, dealers and collectors to put Corbridge in the precisionist canon, though his works often have a hint of magic realism as well. As the 1950s progressed, Corbridge exhibited less, although he participated in the Provincetown Art Association shows consistently through the 50s. Corbridge is listed in Who was Who in American Art as well as other standard references.

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