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Painters from Provincetown’s past

Painters from Provincetown’s past, April 2018 Cape Cod LIFE |

Artists Lucy and William L’Engle at their home in Truro, 1939. Photo courtesy of Daniel L’Engle Davis

William and Lucy L’Engle were part of Cape Cod’s early art colony

Among the artists and writers who gathered in Provincetown in the early 1900s were two prolific painters who met and fell in love while studying in Paris. William and Lucy L’Engle, Modernist artists who were instrumental in bringing the Cubism style of painting to the United States, arrived in Provincetown in 1916 and bought a house near the Provincetown Wharf Theater in the East End, next door to playwright Susan Glaspell. Living and working in Provincetown, they were part of the Provincetown Players’ productions and social circle. After eight years in Provincetown, the L’Engles bought a historic house in Truro that would be their home and studio for the next 50 years.

That family house on Long Nook Road in Truro was the historic Shebnah Rich house, which the L’Engles purchased in 1924 after summering in Provincetown from 1916 on. “Provincetown was too busy for them by then. It was teeming with artists and tourists,” says the couple’s grandson, Daniel L’Engle Davis, who lives in Orleans. “They should see it now, in August.”

The house was the 1824 birthplace of Truro historian Shebnah Rich, son of a mariner and author of the 1884 book “Truro Cape Cod: Or Land Marks and Sea Marks.” Behind the house was the L’Engles’ studio, and when Davis climbed to the rafters to make some repairs to the building in the early 1990s, he discovered a cache of rolled-up paintings by his grandparents that his grandfather had evidently hidden away on purpose.

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