yet lyrical style well suited to the wharf
scenes he liked to paint.
“One day he came out of the bath-
room, complaining that the wall was
terribly boring,” says Ryan. “He spent the
next several days painting the mural.”
Roughly 4 feet square, the mural
dominated the rudimentary 5-by-7-foot
bathroom. Classic nautical Gruppé subject
matter is depicted against the backdrop of
Cape Ann’s northern coastline, garnered
from the cabin’s expansive view.
“He kept looking through binocu-
lars to get it right,” says Ryan, who dates
the work to the early 1960s. “Murals
weren’t Gruppé’s usual art form; I’ve heard of
another in Florida, where he fished and painted
during his later winters. Apparently, he only did
them in friends’ homes, and only on terribly bor-
Unsigned and offbeat, the mural is nonethe-
less the recognizable product of an artist whose
star has risen. “During his lifetime, Emile Gruppé
was unjustifiably considered a ‘tourist painter,’ ” says
Gloucester artist Charles Movalli, who studied with
While Ryan and her friends con-
tinued to brainstorm options for the
mural’s removal, the solution came to
her through work.
the one-room Wingaersheek Beach cabin where Emile A. Gruppé
relaxed on the deck after a day of fishing with Ryan’s godfather.
Gruppé and authored several books with him.
“He was very successful and sold a lot of
paintings, but now that he’s been dead for over 30
years, he’s becoming a historical figure,” Movalli
says. “Today, his work is sold at Sotheby’s and
displayed in prestigious galleries. A Gloucester
beach scene recently sold for just under $50,000.”
Gruppé’s Gloucester Harbor scenes, he says, are
the most desirable. “His Vermont landscapes are
superb, but he is known for his Cape Ann work.”