Vermont State House Features Ernest Haas: Lake Champlain Through Time

ClosePlease loginn

Ernest Haas, Steamboat Chateaugay in Burlington Harbor, ca. 1895, 21 x 36”, Acrylic on panel, Courtesy of the Vermont Historical Society

MONTPELIER – The Vermont State Curator’s office presents an exhibit of paintings by maritime artist Ernest Haas through October 29. Over 20 original paintings will be displayed in the State House Cafeteria and Card Room Gallery during the month of October along with historical context by historian Art Cohn. The paintings are on loan from the Vermont Historical Society, Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, the Isle La Motte Historical Society and several private collectors. This show is a community effort to celebrate Ernie’s 96th birthday and his over three decades of painstakingly beautiful historical illustrations of Lake Champlain.

“For more than 30 years, Ernie has been invaluable to the interpretation of Lake Champlain history,” Cohn said. “He has furthered our mission to better understand what happened here and to convey these stories to a new generation. He has always done it with a generosity and grace that makes him such an effective and joyous person.” Cohn is co-founder of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum

Ernest Haas, Battle of Valcour Island, 32 x 48” framed, Acrylic on panel, Courtesy Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, Vergennes, VT

Haas will be in attendance for an opening reception on October 11, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., with remarks by Art Cohn and others.

Haas has created accurate depictions of Lake Champlain’s historic events and her vessels. He has done it with attention, to detail both artistically and historically. Haas is a painter who illustrates scenes that make our maritime history accessible and excite our curiosity.

Born in 1927, in Albany, N.Y., Haas had a knack for drawing and was encouraged to develop his skills. He served in the Navy at the end of World War II. When his active duty ended, he studied at Paul Smith College for a year before transferring to the School of Practical Art in Boston from 1947–50. 

Ernest Haas, The French Fort at Isle La Motte, 1666., Acrylic on panel, Courtesy Isle La Motte Historical Society

Haas recalls, “I was called back into the service during the Korean War and was lucky to be assigned to the Naval Photo Center in Washington D.C. I did all sorts of art for training films, including some animation work from 1950–53. I met my wife, Elizabeth Louise, there and we married in 1953.” 

From 1954–60, Ernie worked in New York City as an artist’s agent. He decided to go back to college at Southern Connecticut State and earned degrees in modern American history.

After graduation he taught high school and college history from 1964–84 near New Haven, Conn., opting to retire early at 55.

 The couple moved to South Burlington in 1986 to enjoy their retirement. Not long after, Ernie heard the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum was looking for volunteers to assist in building a replica of a colonial-era boat. He didn’t hesitate to get involved and began decades of work with the museum. This relationship launched a second career with his works being sold by art galleries.

The exhibit is on view at the Vermont State House, Cafeteria/Cardroom Gallery, 115 State Street (second floor). Hours for the exhibition are Mondays through Fridays, 8:00 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The opening reception will be held October 11, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. The exhibit is free and open to the public. For additional information, contact. the Vermont State Curator’s Office at david.schutz@vermont.gov