This watercolor of four bathers on the beach was almost certainly painted in Gloucester, Massachusetts, during the summer of 1934 when Rothko and Edith vacationed there with the Averys—Milton (1885–1965), Sally, and March—and Esther and Adolph Gottlieb (1903–1974). This watercolor may depict Rothko’s cohort: the woman in the foreground with a long braid may be Edith and the small figure, perhaps a child, may be March, who would have been around twenty months old in the summer of 1934. The high horizon and foreshortened sunbathers recall a roughly contemporaneous painting by Avery of sunbathers at Coney Island (fig. 1). The number assigned during Rothko’s inventory of 1968/1969 erroneously signifies a creation date of 1927 for this work.
1. Milton Avery, Coney Island, c. 1933, oil on canvas, Allentown Art Museum, Gift of the Milton Avery Trust, 1994.
Mark Rothko: Works on Paper will ultimately document approximately 2,600 works from public and private collections worldwide. Cataloging is ongoing, and works and information will be added to the site during the coming years.