Earl Cunningham
1893-1977

Earl was born in Edgecomb, Maine and had always been attracted by the sea. He left home at the age of 13 becoming an itinerant tinsmith, whose profession was the mending of household utensils. At some point he became a seamen, traveling in the Eastern U.S. in ships carrying goods to ports.

Many of his paintings were done during the years of WWII when he was a chicken farmer, raising chickens for the U.S. Army.

Earl opened a curio shop in St. Augustine, Florida where he painted without any great deal of success. His paintings were comprised of images of his life during his travels. The colors and images were vibrant and fanciful, with his favorites being reds, burnt oranges, and yellows

His business card in 1968 identified himself as a "Primitive Artist".

Cunningham's recognition began to rise at the time of his death at the age of 84. His death was caused by a self-inflicted shot. After his death, his notoriety began to climb more rapidly and many museums began to take notice and begin acquiring his work.

One museum in particular, the Menello Museum of American Art was opened in Orlando, Florida whose collection is built on the foundation of primarily Earl Cunningham pieces. Marilyn Mennello, the namesake of the museum met Earl in 1969 and had purchased art from him at the time.

© 2010 Rare Victorian

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