Henry Curtis Ahl, Sand Dune, oil on canvas, 18 1/4 by 22 1/4 inches. Signed lower right, Ahl, Jr.

Henry Curtis Ahl, Sarasota Shore, oil on canvas, 8 by 10 inches. Signed lower right, Ahl, Jr., titled verso. 

Henry Curtis Ahl was the son of artists Henry Hammon Ahl and his wife, artist and poet, Eleanor Curtis Ahl. The family lived in a 17th century farmhouse east of Newbury, Massachusetts in what is today the Parker River National Wildlife Reserve. Here a young Henry Curtis, like his father Henry Hammon, devoted much of his time to painting the marshes, woodlands, bays, and dunes that surrounded their home. After his parents died Henry Ahl spent his summers in New Hampshire and winters traveling in California, the Southwest, and Florida. 

Henry Curtis Ahl, Old Sugar Mill Ruins, Near Port Orange, oil on canvas, 10 by 14 inches. Signed lower right, H. C. Ahl, titled and dated 1972, verso. 

In a 1953 Boston Globe article, reporter Willard deLue described a visit with the family. “All is indeed art in the Ahl household. Unframed canvases are everywhere in the place, by the dozens, stacked against walls, displayed on easels, hidden behind doors, lined up on the sun porch couch and climbing the great wall of the main studio. Any room in the Ahl house serves as a studio when occasion requires it, and currently the younger Ahl seems to have taken over the library…. much to his mother’s despair. But the main studio is a room out of a book, a room that runs up to the roof timbers, has a gallery on three sides, and is full of all the things a studio should have–masks and portraits, exotic hangings, carved chests, forest paintings and flower paintings, benches, easels, an old fireplace and a not so old piano.”

Henry Curtis Ahl, Dania, Florida, oil on board, 16 by 12 inches. Signed lower right, Ahl, Jr., signed and titled, verso.

Henry Curtis Ahl was known for his landscape and seascape paintings and as the author of illustrated books, including Dunes and Beaches of Essex County, The Old Manse, and A Visit to Orchard House. A private individual, when his parents died in 1953, he moved to a cabin in the woods near Newburyport and later to Walpole, New Hampshire. Ahl traveled and painted in New England, California, the Southwest, and Florida. In March of 1956 Ahl was staying at the Trailer Haven in Melbourne, Florida.

Henry Curtis Ahl, Near Winter Haven, Florida, oil on canvas 8 by 10 inches. Signed lower right, Ahl, Jr. 

In a review of an exhibit of the Dr. A. Everette James Jr. collection of Ahl family art at the Rocky Mount Arts and Crafts Center, the Rocky Mount Telegram (September 12, 1982) noted, “Henry Curtis Ahl has qualities of both his parents; a deep love for his native area, and an appreciation of the legacy that he inherited in art. His interests were somewhat like those of his father as he preferred seascapes and landscape. However his palette is light, and he consistently uses the pigment and technique of an impressionist. The universal appeal of his portrayal of sky, sand dunes and the shore make his work enjoyable to a broad audience. His parents used to say that ‘no one can paint sand dunes as well.’”

Henry Curtis Ahl, Fort Matanzas, Fla. oil on board, 8 by 10 inches. Signed lower left, H. Curtis Ahl, signed and titled verso. 

When Ahl died the Boston Globe, (September 132, 1996) quoted a story published in the Boston Transcript (August 6, 1932), “If you love beauty, if pictures mean anything to you, if you get a thrill out of seeing old houses, the Ahls will welcome you. There are three painters in the household. Even the son, a college graduate, who might be expected to turn against the profession of his parents, is a painter whose sand dunes are the creation of a true poet who possess the magical secret of being able to share what he sees with others.”

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