Daniel Putman Brinley
Some acquisitions have wonderful and unexpected stories associated with them. Living in a small Connecticut town, I was aware of the Silvermine Art Guild. In general, I was not a big fan of many of these artists and paid little attention to them. All of this was to change on a blistering hot July day in 1983. The town has an annual outdoor sidewalk sale where all the local retailers display their wares (and deep cut sales) on the street. I reluctantly accompanied my wife and children to endure heat, loud (and especially bad) street bands, melting ice cream cones, and lots of shoes, shirts, and things I didn’t need or want. Amid the noise and crowds I discovered a very large corrugated box outside an antique shop, filled with what appeared to be burnt frames. I was informed that these were found in a home in which there had been a fire. They were recovered from its attic and were covered in soot. So I started rummaging through the mostly charred empty frames, up to my elbows in soot, until I felt a relatively small frame actually had a totally blackened panel in it. Brushing the soot aside on what turned out to be the back side, I saw the inscription, “Gloucester Harbor.” What is this? I wetted a finger and rubbed first the lower right hand corner: nothing, then the lower left hand corner to reveal on a sea of brilliant blue: “Brinley.” I immediately replaced the soot, covering the two corners to the original condition and asked the antiques dealer what was the cost of a burnt frame and charred canvas. The price was $3, and later $50 for cleaning and $70 for a frame, and I own a wonderful, early, pure Impressionist image by a frequent exhibitor in Cos Cob and founding member of the Silvermine Colony, painted on Cape Ann. Since then I’ve been to many subsequent summer street sales looking for boxes of frames. No such luck.