Frederick Mulhaupt Information and Inventory

Frederick Mulhaupt

(1871 - 1938)

Frederick Mulhaupt


The gradual but continuous rise of Frederick Mulhaupt from being virtually unknown to all but a few Cape Ann artist residents during the 1960s to being arguably the most sought-after Cape Ann painter some forty years later is the story of consistency. No other resident Cape Ann painter maintained the high standard of quality that Mulhaupt did, in the years from 1907, his initial arrival, to his death thirty years later. My personal journey with Mulhaupt’s work began in 1968 when close friend and Cape Ann artist Tom Nicholas invited me to visit the studio of, in his words, “the finest artist who ever lived and painted here.” What I saw was so overwhelming it still seems more like a dream than reality. In a crude, rustic wooden structure suspended on pilings out over Gloucester harbor, once Mulhaupt’s studio, were hundreds of paintings piled and stacked neatly according to size. Additionally, several major exhibition-size canvases, removed from their stretchers, were hanging like drapes from overhead beams—massive, complex winter harbor scenes more amazing than any paintings I had ever seen. We were very fortunate; Mulhaupt’s widow was still alive and packing all her belongings to move within a few days to San Rafael, California. “Buy what you wish,” she said, and these paintings had the same prices as at the time of his death. With little money and perhaps even less ability to predict the future, I acquired three pieces: the classic icebound harbor image of the Schooner Imperator, and two small panels, one a wooded landscape of East Gloucester and the other a scene of Mount Pleasant St. in Marblehead, Massachusetts, where I had lived briefly when I first discovered Cape Ann in 1965. As I recall, the three pieces amounted to $450. A second harbor image was identified around 1985 from a private dealer who apparently discovered it in a Texas collection, descriptively titled The Green Boat. A year later, a poetically subtle harbor image appeared briefly on the Kennedy Gallery walls, and I grabbed it immediately. To my delight, this piece carried a Salmagundi Club label and is frequently mentioned in write-ups on the artist because it was awarded the prestigious Porter Prize in 1921. Shortly after my “discovery” of Mulhaupt in 1968, I spoke enthusiastically of this fabulous Cape Ann painter to Robert Vose at Vose Gallery in Boston; there was zero awareness of the name or the work and little enthusiasm to pursue it even after I told them of the San Rafael move. A decade later I visited Vose Gallery while on home leave, and they had an exhibition of the “newly discovered Cape Ann master.” A nice show but limited in scope and size; after revealing my awareness of the estate and its location, I was assured the gallery had picked the “very best” available. Puzzling, I thought. Around two years later, passing through Los Angeles, again on home leave from Australia, I visited DeVille Gallery to discover a room full of elaborately framed Carl Peters Cape Ann scenes, which prompted a discussion with a gallery staff member. I was told the gallery sold a lot of Cape Ann art and, after listing a handful of names, I asked about Frederick Mulhaupt. A short pause, and reply, “we only have a few left.” “You’ve had his work?” I questioned. “Yes, we’ve sold hundreds of examples over the past dozen years. Every one of our collectors owns one or more major works by the artist… he is by far our favorite Cape Ann painter.” Suddenly a lot of questions were answered other than, “How did you do this without any advertising in the art magazines? I read them all.” Again a short pause and reply, “You don’t have to advertise Frederick Mulhaupt—his work sells itself.”

Frederick Mulhaupt Gallery

No paintings by this author