The Photographer’s Brush: Watercolors by Norman Fortier

Herman Melville Room
Exhibition Opened:
June 7, 2019

Norman Fortier is best known nationally as a photographer, particularly for his maritime pictures of yachts and regattas taken in and around Buzzards Bay, Narragansett Bay, and other popular waters of New England. His photographs have been featured in publications and exhibitions at the Whaling Museum in recent decades, and over 100,000 of his negatives of these and other subjects are archived in our permanent collections. However, Fortier was also a terrific watercolor painter and his charming renderings of boats, people, and places in his beloved Padanaram and farther afield also benefited from his gifted eye for light and composition. At his harbor front studio on Elm Street, Fortier would host friends and fellow sailors, many of whom would commission a boat portrait or two by the charismatic artist.

In this exhibition, old friends, family, and fans have loaned the majority of the watercolors on display, which together display his extraordinary range of style, from broad planes of colorful spinnakers at the starting line to playful light flickering off the trees of Elm Street, to images of clapboard houses reminiscent of Edward Hopper. The Photographer’s Brush presents a unique opportunity to see many works from private collections by a truly remarkable local artist.

The exhibition is dedicated to the memory of
Calvin “Cal” Siegal, 1924-2018,
Museum Trustee and Long-time Friend


Top banner caption: (detail) Norman Fortier, Buzzards Bay Regatta. Watercolor on paper. Collection of Blair and Carol Brown

Past Events
Reception & Exhibition Opening
Sailors’ Series Lecture by Ed Howland
Learn More about the Reception and Lecture


The Photographers Brush catalog coverExhibition catalog
While the exhibition consists of 30 paintings, this richly illustrated companion catalog includes many more, as well as photographs and personal stories from collectors, friends, and family of Norman Fortier. The Photographer’s Brush catalog presents a unique opportunity to see many works from private collections by a truly remarkable local artist. $17.99

Purchase online or in the Museum’s gift store The White Whale.



Exhibition and companion catalogue sponsors

Thomas A. & Elizabeth R. McKay
Carol M. Taylor & John H. Deknatel

Patricia A. Jayson
Ann & D. Lloyd Macdonald

Mary Jean & Bill Blasdale
Nancy C. Crosby
Tally & John N. Garfield, Jr.
Jessie W. & Llewellyn Howland III
Frances F. Levin
Timmy & Gil Shapiro


Additional support provided by

Babbitt logo

Burr Bros. Boats, Inc logo