A pair of New England-based American Impressionist painters – husband and wife – who had no interest in commercial gain and shunned the spotlight are the subjects of a new exhibit at the Springfield Museums.
If you have never heard of the Kaulas, chances are you are not alone.
More than 100 paintings by William Jurian Kaula and Lee Lufkin Kaula make up a new exhibit that is part of a rediscovering American Masters series at the D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts, one of the five museums on the downtown Springfield quadrangle.
Museum director Heather Haskell said it is the first-ever comprehensive display of the artists’ work.
"This exhibition is extraordinary in that it reintroduces two painters from the Boston School who were celebrated at the turn of the 20th Century, and also explores the lives of these artists who were married to each other, shared a work and living space at Fenway Studios and painted together for over fifty years," said Haskell.
The exhibit tells two love stories, according to Haskell. The story of the artists who met while painting in Europe in the late 1800s and fell in love. And the story of their pursuit of art for the love of art, not for wealth or fame.
" There has been a lot of scholarship that has gone into this exhibition and I do think it will enhance their reputation, as it should," said Haskell.
William Kaula painted landscape scenes of New Hampshire and Vermont. Lee Kaula concentrated on portraits of women and children.
The work of the Kaulas caught the eye of art collector Stanley Fry.
" It was just the beauty of the landscapes," explaind Fry. " William was especially skilled at doing these spectacular clouds and also he had a nice way of introducing colors and real small buildings into the scenes that attract your attention."
All but two of the 120 paintings in the museum’s exhibit are from Fry’s private collection. Since the 1990s, the Peterborough, New Hampshire resident has obtained about 250 paintings and hundreds of sketches by the Kaulas.
"Intially, I found ( the paintings) through people who were desedents of the (Kaula's) domestic help," said Fry. "They would give the paintings to their domestic help."
Fry said there are people in New Ipswich, New Hampshire, where the Kaulas spent their summers, who still remember them. Some recognize their friends and relatives as the subjects of Lee Kaula’s portraits.
The exhibit is scheduled to run through September 9th, 2018.