There are defining moments in each person’s life; for sculptor Paul Manship (1885-1966), this moment came when he won the Prix de Rome, a fellowship to the American Academy in Rome, the most coveted award among artists at the time. This honor would forever change his life, Manhattan’s cityscape, as well as aesthetics in the US and abroad. Paul was this country’s most famous exponent of Art Deco. For Paul’s son John, the defining moment came when his godmother gave him a college graduation gift that allowed him to explore Europe as an itinerant painter for several years; thus, transforming a fresh Harvard philosophy major into a lifelong artist and portraitist of places. And for John’s wife Margaret Cassidy, this moment happened when she won an international sculpture contest that offered her a fellowship in Florence, Italy and which led to her contributing her talents to the creation of a monumental sculpture that now graces St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
The Manship artists shared a love for a special place – the Manship property on Cape Ann. Paul Manship developed this estate on the site of two former working quarries during WWII, at a time when building supplies were unavailable. With a special permit from the War Department and with the assistance of his friend and collaborator, architect Eric Gugler (who also designed the Oval Office at the White House for President Franklin Delano Roosevelt), Manship was able to purchase, move, and remodel a house from Pigeon Cove in Rockport. A year later Manship relocated an 1856 oxen barn from Gloucester’s Bayview section as his studio. Then, over the next ten years, Manship devoted his attention to the landscape of his homestead, adding outdoor “rooms” for exhibiting his sculpture. He also created vistas where one could fully appreciate the natural features that grace the estate’s 15+ acres.
The Manship residence and studios in Lanesville are at the center of an important art colony that hosted some of America’s greatest sculptors and other artists including, Monuments Man Walker Hancock; the Hale family of artists; and children’s illustrator, author, and Folly Cove Design originator, Virginia Lee Burton and her husband, sculptor George Demetrios. This historic property is a rare survivor from a time that represents generations of artists who have come to Boston’s North Shore to discover themselves through their practice, to create new work that ultimately changed the way we see, and to connect with the local community.