Charles Robert Perrin (1915-1999)

The telling of the breadth and merit of C. Robert Perrin’s 50-year plus Nantucket career becomes apparent when considering that in 1956, his studio became the very first gallery to populate Old South Wharf.  Though his earlier avocation as illustrator informed the structure of his painting, it was Perrin’s pure, unadulterated charisma that engaged watercolor & brush, to stage pictorial novellas of Nantucket “isms”.   In the same way watercolor paints are made of pigments suspended in a water soluble vehicle, C. Robert Perrin’s paintings are built of island “isms” suspended in place.  Like “Dioxazine Violet” or “Cadmium Red” pigments, and by Perrin’s hand, nature – seagulls, whales, scallops, whelk, Queen Anne’s lace & rugosa – architectural icons and vistas, or Nantucketers both past and present are washed and glazed, scumbled, or applied wet in wet, to float in and out of time and place. Perrin’s paintings are reflections of moments; sparkling in puddles and floating in mists. ~Carolyn Walsh

Born in Medfield, Massachusetts; a graduate of the Art Institute of Boston, Perrin first painted on Nantucket in 1946. His studio on Old South Wharf evolved to become the first active gallery on the wharf in 1956, and by 1966 he’d moved permanently to Washington Street where he established a summer tradition of Wednesday evening demonstrations of his watercolor technique. Originally an illustrator by trade, C. Robert Perrin made use of his inventive nature to illustrate Island children’s books (Remember Whopper or Nancy Tucket?) and some of the first posters employed to market the island. As reported in American Artist magazine in 1959, Perrin converted a VW bus into a plein air studio on wheels. The artist favored Payne’s Gray for his watercolors of puddles, fog imagery and ghosts; and when the premier maker of watercolors announced it was discontinuing the color, Perrin lobbied successfully for its continuation. He remained active in the arts community on Nantucket for 5 decades.
~ adapted from Robert Frazier’s Nantucket Arts Buzz

C. Robert Perrin’s work is represented within the Smithsonian American Art Museum; Gift of the Ford Motor Company, 1966.36.152.  A Suite of Four Nantucket Seasons, interpreted against the animated body of a whale is among the holdings of the Nantucket Historical Association. Perrin was elected a Life Member of the American Watercolor Society (1956). His prowess as a watercolor painter was credited in “One Hundred Watercolor Techniques”, together with renowned artists, Andrew Wyeth and Ogden Plysmer.  C. Robert Perrin’s work has been documented in “Who’s Who in American Art,” “Who’s Who in the East,” and “Who’s Who in the Arts & Antiques.”  The C. Robert Perrin Watercolor Award is presented annually, by the Artists Association of Nantucket.

Recent Examples at Auction