John Whorf Information and Inventory

John Whorf

(1903 - 1959)

John Whorf


Restless, precocious, talented, opinionated, and quite possibly a big pain in the ass to the more conservative folks in his presence, John Whorf achieved remarkable success, a devoted following of art lovers and voyeurs wanting to hear about his latest adventures—and all at a very young age. An artistic father encouraged the youngster at fourteen years old to study at St. Botolph Studio and the MFA. Within a year he left, convinced that independent experimentation and trial and error were a better way to learn. Abandoning the dry academies of Boston, and not yet fifteen years old, Whorf headed to Provincetown, Massachusetts, where his family roots lay. An extraordinary collection of artists, writers and thinkers collected in “P-Town” in 1917, many were artist refugees from World War I who fled Europe and settled in Provincetown. The youngster began study with Charles Hawthorne and George Elmer Brown and hung out at the famed Beachcombers Social Club with older artists Richard Miller and Gerrit Beneker. Whorf could not have been happier—the whole bohemian environment must have been electric. At eighteen years old, a serious injury from a fall resulted in a period of paralysis and years requiring the use of a cane. But Whorf focused his energies from being “a dancing hound”1 into his art. After his recovery and extensive travels in Europe, where he decided watercolor would be his medium of choice and best suited to his travels and spontaneous temperament, he returned to the United States. At age twenty-one he held his first one-man show at Grace Horne Gallery in Boston; the reviewers raved, the watercolors sold out, and the reigning king of watercolor John Singer Sargent purchased his work. Instantly Whorf was, as they say in the movies, a “made man,” and fame, good fortune and legions of admirers followed his career and one-man shows throughout the rest of his life. In 1976, when I acquired this major and—as the years ahead confirmed—rare oil, I was unaware of how the medium of watercolor would dominate John Whorf’s reputation. Nevertheless, this amazingly gutsy harbor interior proves that this artist could really paint in oils as well. In recent years occasional oils have emerged in galleries and auctions and have been eagerly sought after, perhaps because of the rarity or just because they are good

John Whorf Gallery

No paintings by this author