Golden Sea and Gulls, CR #: 0461

Silvery Sea and Gulls, CR #: 0458

Golden Sea and Gulls, watercolor. 1950s; and Silvery Sea and Gulls, watercolor, 1950s

Former director of the Fitzgerald Legacy, Robert Stahl, has written extensively on the artist’s innovative watercolor techniques, noting his use of gilding and silvering to convey the effects of celestial light. “Like most residents of Monhegan, Fitzgerald came and went seasonally …  eventually he would wind up in New York City plying his craft as a master gilder.” About Golden Gulls he noted, “In his usual manner, the artist made a pencil under-drawing on Whatman paper [Fitzgerald bought this special English-made watercolor paper on his trips to London]. The birds, the setting sun, and shapes of the waves were indicated. The path of the golden reflection of the sun on water was laid with gold [and] the gilding on the setting sun was laid over blue and red watercolor that made halos around the orb of gold.”

The subject of the swirling Monhegan gulls was among Fitzgerald’s favorites. He experimented with this particular composition of five gulls in a simpler silver version, incorporating silver leaf into the moon and its watery reflection. There are also numerous variants in black and white Chinese ink and in colored oil paintings.