Mason’s Island, Connecticut, 1907
Oil on Canvas
30 x 36 inches
Signed Lower Left
Reynolds Beal was an American artist, first an Impressionist, then a Modernist, Marine Environmentalist, and brother of the New York Alpha Chapter of the Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity at Cornell. The elder brother of co-painter Gifford Beal, was born in New York City or the Bronx. Reyn and his brother Gifford spent their summers at Wilellyn at Newburgh, New York, and on the Hudson River. Beal was a man of independent means, and was thus able to devote his life to his art without having always to appeal to the tastes of his patrons or to contemporary trends. In fact, Beal was thought of as "one of the adventurous experimenters" of his day and was considered "Modernist". Today he is recognized as being an important American Impressionist.
Reynolds is known as one of the early American Impressionists, and showed artistic ability from an early age. He first studied at Cornell University (naval architecture), where he was a member of the Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity and the Irving Literary Society. “Reyn” painted and sketched in and around Lake Cayuga. His home haunts of the East River were the first subjects of his work; in Sibley Hall’s drafting bays he learned further technique as a budding naval architect. Although the “Sibley time” constitutes his first artistic experience, it was not until the years following graduation that Beal became serious about a painting career.
Reyn spent 1901 at sea, and worked up his sketchbook entitled Cruising aboard U.S.S. School Ship St. Mary's (1901), he kept scrapbook pages of marine etchings and photographs, old Christmas cards, personal photographs, exhibition catalogs, and clippings.
From 1900 to 1907, he painted almost exclusively at the artist's community in Noank, Connecticut with Henry Ward Ranger. After 1912, Beal focused more on the Hudson River Valley, where he painted the colorful and whimsical scenes of the traveling circuses that came through the region.
Reyn adored the beach in Provincetown, Key West, Rockport, Atlantic City and Wellfleet, circus scenes and carnivals and many of his best works convey those themes. Often called "The American Van Gogh," because of his luscious thick avenues of paint and "the American Chagall" because of his playful subjects, Beal is one of America's finest impressionists. He used a variety of styles including Impressionism and Tonalism. As he got older, his work became more complex and vibrant with a mosaic of brush strokes. In addition to oils, he was admired as a watercolorist, and he and Gifford made Rockport, Massachusetts their home. At one time, he resided in Gloucester, Massachusetts, as well. His studio overlooked Rockport's Inner Harbor, from where he drew and etched many harbor scenes.
Reynolds Beal died in Rockport, Massachusetts, in 1951.