Year: ca. 1950s
Medium: oil on canvas
Size: 25 x 30 in.
Purchased with funds provided by the Friends of American Art, 2020.03
The Fisherman’s Shack
Albert E. Backus (American , b.1906 - d.1990)
The setting of The Fisherman’s Shack is a stretch of the Indian River near Ft. Pierce. A rutted dirt road runs along the shore to a dock with a shack. Several fishermen are seen working on the dock while their small boats ride at anchor nearby. These telling details provide a glimpse at life in old Florida before the explosive development booms that were soon to come.
The Fisherman’s Shack was painted during what many consider Backus’s best period, the late 1940s and 50s. At this time, he painted in an impressionist style, applying paint with a palette knife in thick, richly colored strokes. This technique is evident throughout the painting and creates a sparkling effect as the late afternoon sun casts a golden light across the landscape, dock, and boats. The painting’s warm glow is further enhanced by rosy colored clouds passing overhead. While the setting and atmosphere Backus has created in The Fisherman’s Shack are imbued with the spirit of old Florida, it captures a sense of place that is still familiar today.
About Albert E. Backus
Albert Ernest “Beanie” Backus considered the “dean” of Florida landscape painting, created iconic images of the unspoiled beauty of Florida in and around his home in Ft. Pierce. Many of his paintings depict the varied natural environments of the region such as backcountry glades, ranch lands, and windswept beaches at a time when there was often no evidence of development.
In other paintings such as The Fisherman’s Shack, Backus captured scenes of everyday life, particularly that of men working on boats or fishing along the Indian River. With a career that spanned more than 50 years, Backus was among the first native Floridians to earn distinction as a leading regional landscape painter. He was also renowned as a community leader and mentor for young artists including several of the Florida Highwaymen. In recognition of his lifelong contribution to the state’s cultural vitality, in 1993 Backus was inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame.