Butterfield Gates (1910) by Norman Black. *Image supplied
Butterfield Gates (1910) by Norman Black. *Image supplied

In the early twentieth century, it seemed that North American artists were drawn to Bermuda to paint “plein air” and unlike their modern day counterparts, didn’t require work permits to sell their artwork and stayed for much longer periods of time. 

Many of them rented or bought Bermuda homes, and at the end of their stay (which tended to be during the winter months) would mount exhibitions at either the Hamilton or Princess Hotels where they would sell their work to an appreciative public. Norman Irving Black and his wife M E (for some reason, we cannot identify her real name) were typical of this trend.  They had homes in Cliff Island Maine and in Florida, but in the autumn, from 1910 until the 1930s were ensconced in their winter home, Trelone in Paget. Later, they purchased Porter’s Lodge on Langton Hill, which they renovated into an art studio although we do not know if they ever lived there. It was here they produced a large body of Bermuda inspired paintings, but they were both very social and The Royal Gazette observed on February 18, 1924  “Mr Norman Black is one of the best known of the artistic brotherhood in Bermuda.” 

He belonged to the Calabash Club  and the Bermuda Art Association with other members such as Toby Darrell and the architect Samuel Andrews. 

We assume he would have had an acquaintance with Prosper Senat, another American artist who also spent many winters painting on the island and selling his work locally.

Elise Outerbridge is curator at Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art. bermudamasterworks.com