The Cape Ann Museum announced that VNA Care, a nonprofit visiting nurse association, recently donated its painting, "Always at Your Service" by Emile A. Gruppé, to the museum.
Gruppé was a prominent Cape Ann artist of the 20th century. Born in Rochester, New York, he came to Cape Ann in 1925, setting up a studio in Rockport. In 1929, he purchased an old primary school house on Rocky Neck in East Gloucester, making that his headquarters. He had a long career as a widely exhibited artist, and as a teacher, conducting art classes both indoors and outdoors.
"This donation not only assures the preservation of this important artwork and the public’s access to it but also reflects the collaborative spirit that has developed between the two organizations in recent years,” says Oliver Barker, director of the Cape Ann Museum. "We are honored to welcome this painting in our collection. It is an important gift that the museum hopes will inspire others to contribute to the strategic growth of the collections between now and Cape Ann Museum's 150th anniversary in 2025.”
The Gruppé painting was done at one of the artist's favorite vantage points in Gloucester, "at the top of the stairs that link the east end of Main Street to Friend Street and Portuguese Hill."
It was a spot Gruppé painted from often, capturing the change in elevation between the two streets, the waters of Gloucester’s Inner Harbor, with East Gloucester in the background. The painting features a public health nurse in her uniform and the words "Always at Your Service — Your Public Health Nurse."
The artist had donated the painting to VNA Care, which has served Cape Ann since 1914. For decades the painting hung in a prominent place at the organization’s office at 8 Angle St. in Gloucester.
"This painting means so much to our nurses, who have always been ready to serve individuals and families facing illness or injury and respond to public health crises from polio to COVID-19. We’re honored to share this wonderful piece of our history with the community,” said Karen Webber, director of Fund Development for VNA Care.
This artwork is one of several works featured in the museum’s current exhibition titled "CAM (Re)Connects," which showcases objects and artworks featured as part of the museum’s virtual outreach during the pandemic.
"Intended to buoy community spirit and remind visitors of the region’s resilience during other challenging times in history, the exhibition covers a range of locally-significant subjects including St. Peter’s Fiesta, the fishing industry, granite quarrying, food of the region, local traditions, printmaking, and Cape Ann writers, artists and musicians, underscoring the versatility of the museum’s collection as well as the rich and varied story of the Cape Ann region," according to an exhibition statement.
The museum is located at 27 Pleasant St. in Gloucester.