Our Hopewell and Pennington train stations are not just historically interesting, they are also favorite subjects for artists and photographers, both amateur and professional. We’ve all seen various examples of train station art around, but we don’t know much more about them. So it seemed time to dig deeper into three examples of these artists and their work.
Does anyone have additional examples of these or other local artwork?
Ranulph Bye / The Vanishing Depot
Ranulph Bye (1916 – 2003) was a Bucks County artist who painted more than 3,000 images, especially rural and suburban landscape scenes. He was so passionate about preserving train stations that he spent over a decade preparing some 90 paintings of stations from Maryland to New England, which he then published in the book The Vanishing Depot (1973).
His book includes black and white images of both the Hopewell and Pennington train stations, plus a wonderful interior view of the Hopewell ticket office at the still-existing bay windows facing the tracks.
We also have another print of a watercolor of the Hopewell station. Both views of the station are facing east, showing the still-existing freight house and the Feed & Seed building in the background.
Gray’s Watercolors / Davis Gray
Gray’s Watercolors was a studio that used production line techniques to produce large numbers of hand-painted but affordable watercolor reproductions of familiar scenes from 1965 through the mid 1980’s. Founded by Paul McConaughy (1934 – 2013), the company originally focused on prints of college buildings, and then expanded into historic prints of towns with the 1976 Bicentennial. The company produced over 4,000 different scenes and sold over one million prints.
The watercolors were originally produced by printing a base pen and ink drawing as a lithograph, and then having production line of artists take turns painting in each color. Later, they used a pochoir stenciling process to layer on the colors. The Gray’s paintings are signed with pseudonyms, all with the last name “Gray.” This practice, and the company name, came from the most prolific artist, E. B. Walden (1929 – 1995), who began signing his pictures “Davis Gray,” and then other artists also used variations of the same last name (Peter, Allan, Wilson, James, etc.).
Gray’s Watercolors produced nine images of Hopewell, including two different views of the train station, and seven views of Pennington, including one of the train station.
FINAN – “Hopewell Station”
“Hopewell Station” is a black & white print of the Hopewell train station.
The print is labelled “HOPEWELL STATION / Built in 1882 By Daniel Clarkson,” with the signature “FINAN.” The view looks diagonally across the tracks to the station, and beyond to show buildings near the entrance to Railroad Avenue off Greenwood Avenue.
However, the artist is unknown. One possibility was Canadian artist Barry Finan, who did a series of Ontario train stations, but his family reports that that the work is not his.
Other uses of this image that have been found locally are on a note card (without any additional identification), and as an illustration for the 1996 Hopewell Railroad Station Preservation Plan.
(Note the listed construction date is incorrect – The Hopewell station was built in the Centennial year of 1876.)
Does anyone have more information on this or other images?
Thanks to Erika Neary for sharing the FINAN print, and to George Hall for the Ranulph Bye print. And to Dick Sudlow and Robert Witkowski for information on Gray’s Watercolors and examples of their work. The Hopewell Museum also has several Gray’s watercolors.