Images of Rockport’s iconic fishing shack on Bearskin Neck are known and recognized throughout the world, and instantly familiar to any student of art or art history.
“ROCKPORT’S trade mark is the dark red shack on a Bearskin Neck wharf. Motif No. 1 is recognized in far-away places, thanks not only to visitors who spread its fame, but to the innumerable paintings and prints that have carried its likeness abroad.
One story says that a Yankee traveling in South America found a picture of the house: it had been painted in Czechoslovakia. He brought it to his home in New Hampshire.
As we have noted, America’s most-painted building received its name in an impulsive exclamation by Lester Hornby. This illustrator and etcher taught in Paris in the winter; his pupils, in the French manner, drew certain standard subjects or motifs.
During his summer seasons in Rockport, Hornby noted that many pupils chose the venerable, dilapidated shed on the edge of the inner harbor. Its prominence and its simple but interesting proportions made it a natural model for sketches and paintings, good and bad. One day when a student brought for criticism a pencil drawing of the house, Hornby exclaimed, “What-Motif No 1 again!” It has been that ever since.”
Rockport Sketch Book, by John L. Cooley
Article by Leslie D. Bartlett tells the story of the building’s history and the 2002 US Postage Stamp debut.
Article describing how a scale model of Motif No. 1 won first place in the historic float competition at the 1933 World’s Fair.