Historical painter Ernest Haas has donated a collection of his original artworks, prints, and materials to the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum in Vergennes, Vermont. Haas has been a longtime supporter of the museum, which already holds a few of his works.
This donation brings the total number of Haas’ original paintings held by the museum to 29.
“Ernie’s talent for capturing the beauty, action, and vibrance of some of the most important moments in Lake Champlain’s history is amazing, especially those moments which don’t have any surviving contemporary illustration,” said Chris Sabick, the museum’s director of research and archaeology. “For our visitors, experiencing Ernie’s art transports them back in time to the moments we interpret here at the museum, and makes our work of teaching maritime history that much more powerful.”
Haas has spent his life around water and over 60 years painting. During his childhood in Albany, New York, he was first inspired by the large ships on the Hudson River. Haas joined the U.S. Navy at age 17, just before the end of the Second World War.
After his time in the Navy, he became an illustrator and educator, teaching high school history in Connecticut for 20 years. Upon retirement, he moved with his late wife Betty Lou to Vermont to be closer to nature, which has always inspired his artwork.
Haas uses old photographs and historic records to inspire his artistic process. Paintings in the collection feature maritime scenes from the American Revolution, the War of 1812, and the canal boat and steamboat eras of the 19th and 20th centuries on Lake Champlain, as well as landscapes from throughout New England.
In addition to original artwork and prints, his donation to the museum includes two boxes of research and reference materials used in the development of his Lake Champlain-related paintings.
In celebration of Haas’ upcoming ninety-sixth birthday, several institutions around New England are contributing to a show of his work at the Vermont State House in Montpelier, opening later this month. On loan from the museum will be several pieces depicting the Battle of Valcour Bay on October 11, 1776.
Founded in 1985, Lake Champlain Maritime Museum is open to all from late May to mid-October with free admission. Year-round education programs serve more than 2,500 K-12 students, as well as hundreds of educators locally and nationally. For more information, visit www.lcmm.org.
Illustrations, from above: “The General Butler on the Burlington breakwater,” Ernest Haas, 2000; and “The Lake Champlain Yacht Club ca. 1918,” Ernest Haas, 2021.