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Modern Masters Who Painted Bermuda

The Arches in Bermuda by Charles Reid [circa 1980s]

It’s been said artists don’t paint what they see but rather what they feel about what they see. If this is so then two modern masters of American painting who both died earlier this summer clearly felt unconditional love for Bermuda.

In fact both men’s canvasses of Bermuda are among their best known works. Edward Raymond Kinstler and Charles Reid died within days of one another, on May 26 and June 1 respectively.

Born in New York City in 1926, Mr. Kinstler grew up idolising the pre-eminent Victorian/Edwardian portraitist John Singer Sargent,. But as a child of the Great Depression, he had to go where the work was when he received his diploma from New York’s Art Students League.

Frick Cove, Bermuda by Edward Raymond Kinstler [1969]
And in the 1940s that was the comic and pulp magazine publishers, for whom he turned out untold numbers of funnybook pages and short story illustrations. Mr. Kinstler eventually did get the opportunity to turn his hand to portraiture in the 1950s and immediately set about making up for lost time.

He became internationally renowned for his meticulously detailed work, including the official White House portraits of former US presidents Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan.

His occasional landscapes and seascapes were more fluid, playful and impressionistic — including the ones he painted in Bermuda during visits in the 1960s and ’70s. A major figure in the modern American realism movement, Mr. Reid delighted in teaching what he had learned during a lifetime at the easel to thousands of eager student.

Born in 1937 this gifted watercolorist became celebrated for his sensitive use of light, colour and shadow. The recipient of many prestigious art awards, the New York state native’s work can be found in any number of major museums and private collections.

But Mr. Reid derived as much satisfaction from passing his knowledge on to aspiring painters as he did from his own professional successes. He wrote 11 instructional books and led numerous teaching workshops over the years, many of them held in Bermuda.