M.I.T. Exhibition 'Stirs' Boston
Although Juglaris returned to Italy in 1891, he exhibited a painting, Sermon on the Mount, at the 1893 Chicago World Columbian Exposition. The painting depicts contemporary Italian working men and women listening to a sermon being delivered by a priest from an open air platform. Yet signaling that Juglaris was no longer an immigrant artist, the painting was exhibited at the Italian Pavilion, rather than any of the major halls of the world’s fair where the work of American artists was on display. It was a full decade before Juglaris’s work was once again exhibited in the United States.
That next and last major showing of Juglaris’s work occurred in October 1902. It offered a preview of his vast mural commission for the Franklin Public Library outside Boston, entitled Grecian Festival. Ready for display were massive preliminary mural designs that Juglaris had completed the previous summer at Henry Hammond Gallison’s Annisquam, Massachusetts studio. In need of an exhibition space large enough to accommodate the full scope of his ambitious mural project, Juglaris chose the newly-opened Augustus Lowell Laboratory of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) in Back Bay Boston, down the street from the Grundmann Studios where artists more commonly presented their work. As a Boston art critic explained the remarkable set-up:
“In magnitude and conception this is one of the most ambitious decorations yet undertaken in this country… It is difficult to find a suitable exhibition place anywhere for canvases of such dimensions—their total length running to considerably more than 800 feet. But the spacious hall formed by the workshop of the laboratory, with its good lighting from above, offers a fair place for the purpose. Here a large quadrangle has been formed by hanging the canvases on a temporary framework, making a large room of nearly the same dimensions as the [Franklin Public Library] reading room itself. Within this quadrangle the decoration is shown. The space could not be made to correspond exactly with that of the library; hence, as here displayed, the panels pass around the corners.” [“The Juglaris Decoration,” Juglaris Album]
The canvas panels unveiled at the Augustus Lowell Laboratory featured in well-drawn silhouette the full panoply of scenes that Juglaris intended to incorporate in his reading room mural cycle. Some color studies may also have been presented. Left blank and unpainted were canvas spaces where large reading room doorways and a fireplace would intrude upon the final mural installation. In the eyes of one reviewer, Juglaris’s goal was to share “his conception of the subject in motive, color, harmony and composition.”
Admission tickets were issued to members of the public interested in viewing Juglaris’s work in progress. Boston newspapers enthusiastically covered the showing. One article, headlined “Artist’s Strange Work Stirs Boston,” reported that “the painting is expected to create a sensation when it is placed on exhibition in [Boston] and New York. Juglaris was identified as “probably the best living figure painter today.” The whole Franklin Public Library project was deemed one of the “most remarkable things this country has ever known.” Adding to the excitement over Juglaris’s murals was his choice of subject matter. Instead of offering an American-themed historical tableau, Juglaris presented an imagined classical panorama with pastoral, Arcadian elements—the kind of scene enjoying considerable vogue among many European artists at the turn of the twentieth century.
It is not known whether Juglaris’s preliminary designs for the Franklin Public Library murals were ever exhibited in New York as originally planned. However, two years later Juglaris’s Grecian Festival was installed at the Franklin Public Library. Since their official unveiling and dedication in 1904 the mural cycle has been on view at the Franklin Public library—a permanent exhibition of Juglaris’s talent.
The Artist’s Colony at Annisquam
During the time that Tommaso Juglaris worked on his mural commission for the Franklin Public Library from 1902 to 1904, he wintered in Turin and summered in New England. His New England time, extending from late spring to early fall, was actually divided between Providence, Rhode Island, and three different Massachusetts locations—namely, Boston, Franklin, and Annisquam. However, Juglaris enjoyed Annisquam most of all. There he made use of Henry Hammond Gallison’s studio.
Thirty five miles north of Boston and only a few miles across Cape Ann from the bustling and picturesque seaport of Gloucester, Annisquam was a small, quiet waterfront hamlet that, like the surrounding area, attracted many artists. The much honored and influential painters Frank Duveneck and Thomas Hovenden were partial to Annisquam. So was the Canadian-born Impressionist George Loftus Noyes who spent the summers from 1901-1905 both painting and teaching students in “that renowned little village, which is the most cosmopolitan of art colonies.” Many other American artists—some prominent, others promising--made “Squam” a place of summer retreat in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. They include Cecilia Beaux, Frances Brundage, Augustus W. Buhler, Joseph De Camp, John B. Foster, Charles Allan Grafly, Jr., George Wainright Harvey, Winslow Homer, Edward Parker Hayden, William Morris Hunt, Anna Vaughan Hyatt, Bolton Jones, Agnes McCahill, Edward G. McDowell, Edmund C. Tarbell, Stephen Parrish, Maxfield Parrish, Eric Pape, William L. Picknell, and Maurice Prendergast.
Because of the consistency with which he maintained his own studio at Annisquam summer after summer for more than twenty years, Juglaris’s friend Gallison was not only considered one of the “recognized arbiters” and so-called “Regulators” for the art colony but, even more preeminently, the “dean” of all the painters and sculptors attracted to everything it offered. Gallison’s experience and outward mien as a professionally trained jurist no doubt added to his commanding presence among his fellow artists. But, more importantly, so did his success as a landscape artist widely exhibited in European galleries. One of his paintings, Departing Mists, was newly acquired by the National Museum in Rome, an unprecedented honor for an American artist.
For artists there was never a shortage of scenes to paint in Annisquam. Growing amid the rocky landscape of Cape Ann, the local flora and fauna were abundant and diverse. Quaint old homes and water views offered inspiration and invited the artist to capture with his or her brush the enchantment of the atmosphere. As a local Cape Ann guidebook also noted, general tourists to Annisquam could often spy “a score of artists at work on the beach, sketching some of the gray-bearded old followers of the sea who work away on their nets apparently unconscious that they are attracting attention.” Although he was hard at work indoors on the Franklin Library murals, Juglaris took the opportunity to occasionally sketch and paint en plein air the sights of the countryside and the small boats to be found on Annisquam’s calm, protected waters.
At the center of Annisquam’s village life was a post office, library, church, and general store. Also overlooking Annisquam from a rocky crag were a half dozen small rustic hotels that each summer welcomed an influx of several hundred guests. Juglaris boarded at the Grand View and Bryn Mere Hotels. On Grand View Hotel stationary, Juglaris wrote a series of letters to his friend Edoardo Calandra in Turin. In the same voice that can be heard throughout his memoir, Juglaris shares through these letters, now owned by the J. Paul Getty Museum, his impressions of an America that has made great strides since his departure in 1891. Juglaris also favorably describes Annisquam and its vicinity as the “Barbizon of America”—an allusion to the famous artist’s colony near Fontainebleau, France where he had summered during his earlier Paris years. Today, Juglaris’s letters from Annisquam are preserved in the archival collections of the Getty Museum of Art in Los Angeles, a tacit recognition of the value of his voice and transatlantic perspective on America’s late nineteenth century and early twentieth century arts scene.
Cape Ann and its Annisquam colony became a regular beat for reporters from the Boston Globe and Boston Post, eager to entertain their readers with accounts of the summer adventures of the affluent and the artistic. Gallison and Juglaris figured prominently in their journalistic reportage. For an article published on June 14, 1903, the Boston Post reporter described in detail the studio where both artists were hard at work on major commissions: “Right on the edge of the bay overlooking the smooth waters, the fishing craft, and with the purple hills in the distance, the studio forms a picture itself with nature’s background to effect it. Inside the studio is fitted in a tasteful manner. Three large gilt-framed mirrors are hung on the walls. An immense window seat overlooks the bay and forms a cosey corner, piled high with pillows and done if buff-colored velvet, with long portieres draped in front from the ceiling. Paintings copied from the old masters adorn the walls and a few sketches of heads. In the front of the room is an immense scaffold where Juglaris, the Italian painter, and a friend of Mr. Gallison’s, is completing his large frieze for the Franklin memorial. Overhead is a balcony, where one mounts the stairs and can look over the interior of the studio. Two immense windows afford light for the place. One 12 by 13 is in the roof, and the other, an immense bow window 15 X 12, looks upon the water. Piled high in the yard, just in front of the two giant doors opening on the edge of the bay, are lobster traps and crates where fishermen start on their trips.”
A year later, the Boston Globe was also visiting the Gallison studio. Afterwards, in a full-page feature on Annisquam which reached print on August 28, 1904, marveling at its artistic output: “”Mr. Gallison’s studio stands at the very outskirts of Annisquam, it being the first building at the ‘Squam’ end of the causeway that spans Lobster cove, one of the various arms of the river that reach out into the reclining hills of this neighborhood. It is a modest little building and the casual observer could scarce suppose that within its walls some of the most serious and telling works of art being produced in America today are taking shape.” Although the Gloucester Directory for 1903 indicates that Gallison’s studio was actually located at 605 Washington Street on Goose Cove, not Lobster Cove as printed, the reporter’s observations remain otherwise valid. Juglaris’s presence at Gallison’s studio and the vast Franklin mural project that he and Gallison were jointly undertaking clearly added to the prestige of the Annisquam colony in those first years of a new century.