By Jennifer Solis
---- — WEST NEWBURY — American portrait artist George V. Augusta Jr.’s love of West Newbury and the region lives on this winter in an exhibit at GAR Memorial Library.
The exhibit, titled, “George Augusta — North Shore Landscapes and Beach Scenes” — was arranged and prepared shortly before the West Newbury artist’s unexpected death on Dec. 31.
Most of the landscapes in the show highlight scenes from the Cherry Hill neighborhood where Augusta lived as well as the reservoirs and ponds that were within walking distance of his home.
There are also paintings of areas in Essex and Beverly Farms where Augusta lived for a few years in the early 1980s prior to moving to West Newbury.
Augusta also frequented Plum Island and Crane Beach in Ipswich to sketch figures for his paintings.
Phillip Augusta said his father painted outdoors or in his studio every day up until the last few years of his life.
His works can be seen hanging in the halls of corporate America as well as in universities, hospitals, state houses, the Pentagon and the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. His portrait of Chief Justice Warren Burger is on display in the gallery of the U.S. Supreme Court and his official portrait of Rosalynn Carter hangs in the First Ladies gallery at the White House.
Augusta was born in Dorchester in 1922. His interest in the visual arts was first sparked as a young man serving in the Mediterranean theatre during WWII.
“In Florence, he was befriended by an Italian painter and there he began his first serious art studies. His experiences in Italy ignited lifelong passions for word puzzles and fine arts,” his son said.
Augusta studied for three years with Ernest Lee Major, becoming one of the last people to study under him before his death in 1950. Major was an original member of the Boston School of painting that emphasized working from direct life.
During his 60-year career as a portrait painter, Augusta was represented by Vose Galleries in Boston and by Portraits, Inc. in New York City. Notables who sat for him included Derek Bok, Norris Cotton, Clark Clifford, Dr. Charles Janeway, Francis Sargent, Cyrus Vance, Elliot Richardson, Millie Monks and Lewis Powell.
A memorial website has been set up in Augusta’s honor at www.george-augusta.com.
The exhibit runs through February at GAR Library and and may be viewed during regular library hours, which are Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.