Last updated: August 1, 2017
Dana Beach Painting
August 01, 2017
Now that July has arrived, and with it the hotter temperatures of summer, people are heading to the beaches. The Longfellows often traveled to beaches, with different family members enjoying the experience for varied reasons. Henry Longfellow found it inspired poetry with both the sounds of the waves and the shimmering water, and enjoyed drives on the beach at their seaside summer getaway in Nahant. The Longfellow children enjoyed playing in the water and boating. Ernest Longfellow, especially after he was grown and became a professional artist, seems to have favored beaches as a subject for his paintings, especially the one pictured above, Dana Beach in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts.
Manchester-by-the-Sea is a small town on Boston’s North Shore that first achieved a reputation as a resort spot in 1845, when the poet Richard Henry Dana Sr. established a summer residence there. The town’s popularity as a vacation spot spread quickly, and by the mid-nineteenth century wealthy families were constructing large cottages on the town’s shores. Within a couple of decades, even more lavish properties were being built and given lofty sounding names such as Sharksmouth and Kragsyde.
By 1901 Ernest Longfellow and his wife Harriet Spelman Longfellow became property owners themselves in the area when a summer house he named Edgecliff was built on Coolidge Point in Manchester-by-the-Sea. Due to the multiple paintings in the Longfellow House collection of beach views from the area by Ernest that predate his purchase, the one above is dated 1875, it’s apparent that he enjoyed the spot for its scenery. He would spend the next twenty years splitting time between Edgecliff, winters in New York City, and travel before his death in 1921.