"The Last Watch"
45 1400 $45.00 - $1,400.00
Ellen's prints are museum quality gicle'es reproduced from her original paintings. Image sizes listed don't include margins. Reproductions on paper larger than 12" x 16" are signed over Ellen's embossed seal, numbered and titled in pencil in the margin. Canvas gicle'es are signed and numbered in gold or silver ink along the lower edge. Open stock prints are signed and titled by Ellen in the lower margin. Mouse over image for magnification.
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"The Last Watch" is a portrait of the U.S. Coast Guard Station at Indian River Inlet, Delaware, as it was the day it was decommissioned in 1962. The original oil painting by Ellen Rice was painted over an eight-month period from a photograph provided to her courtesy of Milton W. Cooper, the last living commander of the station.
Here, Ellen, a member of the board in charge of restoring the station, describes the moment in time the painting depicts. It is March 1962, the end of a day and the end of an era, as Milton W. Cooper, BMLC, stands with hands in pockets, taking a final look out to sea from the Coast Guard Station that had been in his command. The station is abandoned, its crew lifted out by helicopter during one of the East Coast's most devastating storms. It is an odd twist of fate for a building that had been the site of so many lifesaving efforts over the last century.
In the wake of the storm, the evening glow of sunset begins to shed its light over the station. More than two feet of sand is piled around and inside the building. Decades later, when the station is lifted to be refounded, still more sand was found inside the walls of the battered building, so fierce were the winds of the Storm of '62.
The dunes surrounding the station, from Lewes, Delaware, to Ocean City, Maryland, are flattened. The tracks of bulldozers, a half covered snow fence and two sets of foot prints leading toward the station, one human, the other animal, are all that mar the sand.
Looking around, an upstairs window in what for nine decades was the surf crew's bunker room, the windows of a door that once was the entrance to the boat room but more recently served as a pool room, and the boat room window behind the commander are blown out. The frame of one lies against the ocean side of the station under the roof of what remains of the back porch. There, the porch screens are blown away. The screen door still hangs, though crookedly, creaking with the breeze.
No flag flies, for the station has just been decommissioned. The weather vane atop the flag tower indicates a light northeast wind, but never again will a watchman make his four-hour log notation of the wind's direction. The days of service of the Indian River Station have come to a close.
The station at Indian River Inlet was built and commissioned as a U.S. Lifesaving Station in 1876 and is the second oldest Life Saving Station in its original position in the United States and one of the nation's most important maritime landmarks. It became a U.S. Coast Guard Station in the early 1900s and as such served mariners along the Mid-Atlantic until the Storm or '62. Today, the past touches the future. The station's doors are open once again, serving in a new way, as the Indian River Lifesaving Station Museum and Historic