On Jan. 18, the Museum received “Meherin Cabin in Auke Bay,” a painting by well-known Alaskan artist Theodore R. Lambert. Though regarded as one of Alaska’s premier painters, Lambert is not well known in Southeast Alaska, largely because he spent nearly all his artistic career in the interior.
Lambert arrived in Alaska at Cordova in 1926. Over the years he painted in McCarthy, Kennicott, Dawson, Gakona, Eagle, Bethel and nearly 20 years in Fairbanks. He also painted briefly with Eustace Ziegler in Chicago. In 1936 he visited Juneau and made an oil on masonite painting of the Meherin Cabin in Auke Bay showing Coglan Island, with Mansfield Peninsula in the distance. The cabin depicted in the painting was most likely owned by Joe Meherin, a prominent local businessman who was integral in the construction of the Baranof Hotel.
Lambert lived an exciting, but dark life. By several accounts he was restless and moody. Art historian and curator, Kessler Woodward described his brushwork like his life, “restless, searching, abrupt and strong.” His final end is unknown; Lambert disappeared from a cabin in the Levelock area of southwest Alaska in 1960.
“The chance to acquire a work by this artist, depicting a local scene is really the perfect opportunity for this museum,” said Curator of Collections & Exhibits Addison Field in a press release. “It is a local scene by an important artist. This painting will add exciting depth to our fine art collection.”
Field did quite a bit of research before the Museum expressed an interest in the painting, after learning about it through the work’s owner, a resident of Fairbanks. Luckily, a museum volunteer was traveling to Fairbanks to do research for our upcoming summer exhibit on Sydney Laurence and was able to view the condition and take photos for the museum.
“When we saw photos of the painting and received a report on its condition, we were encouraged to raise additional funds to purchase it” said Director Jane Lindsey.
“To complement our collecting themes we look at artistic representations of Juneau through the decades. We only have two other major paintings of Juneau in the ‘30s in our collection” she said. “This depiction of Auke Bay in 1936 by an artist as talented as Lambert is very special.”
The Juneau-Douglas City Museum extends their thanks to Mike Blackwell, Jay and Judy Crondahl, the estate of Harold O. Fossum, the Friends of the Juneau-Douglas City Museum, Jean E. Kline, Ross Soboleff and Jane Lindsey, who helped make this acquisition possible. Museum staff will exhibit the painting for public viewing by Feb. 1, for all to enjoy.
For more information regarding this acquisition, call 586-3572. The City Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday 10am to 4pm. Admission is free during the months of January and February thanks to a donation made in memory of Harold O. Fossum. The Juneau-Douglas City Museum is a facility of the Juneau Parks & Recreation Department.