William Pearl Bodwell was a landscape artist, wood engraver, draftsman and according to his obituary, a founding member of the Provincetown Artist Colony.
Early in his career, he was a master draftsman and printmaker for The Boston Herald. While he was a staff artist for that newspaper in 1886, one of his assignments took him to Provincetown where he made paintings that ultimately attracted other artists to the Cape Cod fishing village. On that fateful trip to Provincetown, Bodwell painted not only the beautiful coastline but also the newly built train line running from Boston to Provincetown. Two known examples of his train line paintings from 1886 are extant. In essence, Bodwell was advertising the destination and yet today these pictures serve as reminders of the dawn of artists’ travel along the well-worn path from Boston to the tip of Cape Cod.
There are many examples of Bodwell’s engraving work in books, advertisements, and magazines of the period. He left the newspaper in 1901 to pursue a more serious career as a painter. Bodwell often painted outdoors to more accurately capture the atmosphere and mood of his subject. Over the course of his painting career, his style evolved from Realism and Tonalism to Impressionism in lockstep with the times.
Bodwell exhibited at the Bostonian Society, Boston Society of Arts and Crafts, and the Boston Art Club.