Light and shadow: The New Windsor Hotel by Etnier. *Image by Etnier
Light and shadow: The New Windsor Hotel by Etnier. *Image by Etnier

Etnier was a realist painter who was most closely associated with Maine, his adopted home. He was attracted to the luminescent quality of light and being an inveterate sailor, he explored the coastlines of Maine and the Caribbean. 

He translated these adventures into pictorial recordings. 

His paintings offer rare examples of straightforward biography and provide meticulous documentations of his journeys and tastes. 

As Daniel O’Leary of the Portland, Museum of Art states: “For Etnier, the phenomenon of light was most intriguing when it generated attenuated diagonals of brightness and shadow or when it advanced towards the foreground of his paintings.” 

This is more than evident in the oil painting New Windsor Hotel which he painted in 1933 on a family sailing voyage to Bermuda. 

The strong parallels of the roof of the New Windsor Hotel and Queen Street create a snapshot of everyday life in the midst of the Depression. 

Horse and carriages travel in both directions and bikes are parked on the sidewalk. Many Bermudians will remember the hotel as the home of the fabled nightclub, The Jungle Room — a notorious hangout that hosted live entertainment nightly such as Charles Taylor and Michael Clarke with the Cortinas. 

This is a great example of Etnier’s commitment to realism and luminism favouring industrial and working scenes but always imbued with atmospheric light. 

 Elise Outerbridge is curator for the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art.