Ogden Pleissner painted Shinebone Alley circa 1950.
Ogden Pleissner painted Shinebone Alley circa 1950.

Ogden Pleissner
American 1905-1983
Shinbone Alley c. 1950

Ogden Pleissner’s Shinbone Alley was painted in the mid fifties, about the same time that Andrew Wyeth painted “Royal Palms” on the same street. Wyeth’s work looked away from the harbour while Pleissner looked toward the harbour with the Samaritan Cottages blocking any chance of seeing it!

Shinbone Alley was returned to Bermuda in 1987 as one of a group of twelve paintings. This work provided much impetus for a fledgling group of “art bandits” whose efforts were about building an awareness of our island’s history and culture.

On a Saturday morning when work was being shown at the City Hall, a young boy approached me, declaring that he lived in the house on the first left. 

This sense of identity, pride, place, association set many wheels on fire and made the possibilities endless. Pleissner’s confidence and purposeful composition is evident in this work. It suggests a time before the proliferation of automobiles-although it was painted a few years after the car was introduced to the public.

Needless to say, this work provided an auspicious start to our fledgling ambitions.

Tom Butterfield ifsfounder of the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art.  www.bermudamasterworks.com