Red Poppies

Charles Demuth (American, Lancaster, Pennsylvania 1883–1935 Lancaster, Pennsylvania)

Watercolor and graphite on paper
H. 13 7/8, W. 19 7/8 in. (35.2 x 50.5 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Henry and Louise Loeb, 1983
Accession Number:
  • Description

    Debilitated by diabetes during the last eight years of his life, Demuth's artistic output was also severely curtailed. Ironically, however, his late works, as evidenced by this 1929 watercolor of poppies (so reminiscent of O'Keeffe's poppies of 1927), are some of his boldest in terms of color, draftsmanship, and design. Unlike the luminous transparency of earlier botanical studies, the watercolor here is applied rather opaquely. The spiked contours and gentle curves of the flowers direct our eye around the composition, coming to rest on the large open blossom in the center. Presenting the full cycle of the flower - budding, opening, blooming, and decaying - he also suggests the human life cycle, and perhaps his own diminished physical strength.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Signature: Signed and dated (lower right): 1929./C.Demuth

  • Provenance

    Alfred Stieglitz, New York

  • Exhibition History

    New York: The Whitney Museum of American Art, ¦Charles Demuth Memorial Exhibition¦, December 1937-January, 1938, no. 38

    New York: The Museum of Modern Art, ¦Charles Demuth¦, March 1950, no. 148, illus. p. 83

    New York: The Downtown Gallery, July 1950

    Oslo, Norway: The American Embassy, 1950

    Ogunquit, Maine: Museum of Art of Ogunquit, ¦7th Annual Exhibition¦, June-September, 1959, illus. in cat

    Washington, DC: Corcoran Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, ¦Edith G. Halpert Collection¦, January-February, 1960

    Minneapolis: Walker Art Center; New York: Whitney Museum of American Art; Detroit: Detroit Institute of Arts; Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art; San Francisco: San Francisco Museum of Art, ¦Precisionists¦, November 1960-August 1961

    Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, ¦The World of Flowers¦, 1963

    New York: Gallery of Modern Art, ¦The 20's Revisited¦, June-September, 1965

    Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: William Penn Memorial Museum, ¦Charles Demuth¦, August 1966, illus. in cat.

    Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art; San Francisco: M.H. de Young Memorial Museum; Seattle: Seattle Art Museum, ¦Eight American Masters of Watercolor¦, April 1968-October 1968, no. 81, illus. in cat.

    Corpus Christi, Texas: Art Museum of South Texas, ¦A Selection of American Paintings from the Estate of the Late Edith Gregor Halpert, New York¦, January 19-February 10, 1973

    Washington, DC: The National Gallery of Art, January 28, 2001 - April 22, 2001. ¦Alfred Stieglitz and Modern Art in America¦. plate 139, p.376, illus.
    in color.

    "Charles Demuth," The Metropolitan Museum of Art (LAW, North Mezzanine), May 9 - August 31, 2003

  • References

    James W. Lane. “Notes from New York.” Apollo, vol. 27, no. 157, January 1938, illustrated p. 96.

    New York Graphic Society, ed., New Art in America - 50 American Painters - 20th Century, (New York: 1957)

    Highly Important 19th and 20th Century American Paintings, Drawings, Watercolors, and Sculptures from the Estate of the Late Edith Gregor Halpert (The Downtown Gallery), Sale no. 3484. NY: Sotheby Parke Bernet, Inc., March 14-15, 1973. Catalogue no. 21, illustrated in color n.p. (sold for $55,000)

    Greenough, Sarah, et. al. Modern Art and America: Alfred Stieglitz and His New York Galleries. Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art, 2000. Cat. no. 139, p. 372, 376 (ill. in color).

  • See also