Theresa Ferber Bernstein (1890 - 2002)
Bathers on the Beach, Coney Island, c. 1915
Oil on board
8 1/8 x 11 1/8 inches
Signed at lower right: Bernstein
Period “Vose” frame
Acquired directly from the artist
Private Collection, Gloucester, Massachusetts
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Theresa Bernstein received her first arts training at the Philadelphia School of Design for Women (now Moore College of art). She went on to study with American Impressionist William Merritt Chase at the Art Students' League in Manhattan. Bernstein was also highly influenced by the Ash Can painter Robert Henri, and answered his call to paint the full panoply of urban life in a vigorous manner.
Bernstein was drawn to the drama of urban scenes, which she chronicled throughout her career. She used color boldly, gravitating towards fully saturated tones, applied with loose, impressionistic brushwork. Bernstein articulated her philosophy on painting as follows: "The important thing is to maintain the vivacity of your first impression".
Beaches were a favorite subject for Bernstein throughout her career, and the present painting is a confidently painted example from early in her career. Coney Island was a favorite beach and playground for city dwellers, and culturally was famed as a rare intersection of sea and sidewalk. Bernstein captures the crowds of bathers at the beach, filling the composition with swiftly painted figures and umbrellas. A high horizon line enhances the sense of a packed day at an urban beach.
Bernstein exhibited widely throughout her career, and was awarded one-person shows at the Museum of the City of New York and Grand Central Galleries, amongst numerous exhibition locations. She was also a member of the Philadelphia Ten Painters. Bernstein had an extraordinarily long career, and painted until the end of her life.