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The Cover |

Gloucester Harbor

Janet M. Torpy, MD
JAMA. 2012;307(18):1894. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.468.
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An early settlement of English immigrants—predating Boston—developed in Gloucester, Massachusetts. In the 19th century, Gloucester's major industries were fishing and shipbuilding; an artists' colony grew on Cape Ann, in Gloucester and its surrounds. The harbor, as Willard Leroy Metcalf (1858-1925) styled it in Gloucester Harbor (cover), is blue, still, and pure: sailboats drift on the water, whose surface appears untouched by the working seafarers and their detritus. Metcalf cleverly depicted shadows on the surface, with just enough change in tone to suggest depths and reflections. Fluffy greenery appears on the hillock and hides buildings in the painting's foreground, as though to say that flora—Nature in her fundamental state—trumps the intrusion of human inhabitation. The density of warehouses and fish-processing plants on the far shore reflects the reality that has been captured in photography of turn-of-the-century Gloucester, albeit without the scales, grit, and pervasive scent. Cod, mackerel, and halibut comprised much of the catch brought into Gloucester's harbor by the fishermen who worked the region and the seas off New England, including the Grand Banks. The fish, preserved by salting techniques—from salt brought directly into the harbor on dedicated salt ships—traveled the distances to landlocked areas, in an era devoid of easily available refrigeration.

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Willard Leroy Metcalf (1858-1925), Gloucester Harbor, 1895, American. Oil on canvas. 66.4 × 74.3 cm. Courtesy of the Mead Art Museum, Amherst College (https://www.amherst.edu/museums/mead), Amherst, Massachusetts; gift of George D. Pratt (Class of 1893), AC P.1932.16.

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