Eternal Surge

Edgar Payne
Eternal Surge
Oil on canvas, c. 1920
34 x 45 inches
Museum purchase with funds from prior gift of Lois Outerbridge

Eternal Surge is one of only a few extant, large-scale seascapes by Edgar Payne. Exhibited in the Twenty-Fifth Annual Exhibition by Artists of Chicago and Vicinity at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1921, the painting was purchased by a local Chicago family. It remained in their collection until summer 2002, when Laguna Art Museum purchased it. It is most likely a studio work, painted from a smaller plein-air sketch. In 2008, environmental consultant and Laguna Beach resident Eric Jessen did extensive research on the geographic locations of Payne’s works. According to Jessen, Eternal Surge was painted at Coward’s Cove, just east of the Twin Points promontories in North Laguna.

In discussing marine views, the artist said, “Since the eye sees the quickest motion first, breaking waves and spray are often selected for the point of interest . . . . Whatever appeals should be brought out. Interest need not be in the main masses. A particular spot, a small mass, a bit of spray lightened by sunlight, a rock or headland surrounded by light values, the pattern of foam, or any of the hundreds of items that can be seen.” In selecting the palette for a seascape, Payne advocated the use of “warmer colors” to offset the dominant cooler shades of green, gray, and blue. He stated that the “warm foundation” created a unification and balance between the warm and cool shades and kept the composition from appearing cold.


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