After Sir Christopher Wren

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

Date: 1920

Medium: Watercolor, gouache, and graphite on cardboard

Dimensions: 24 x 20 in. (61 x 50.8 cm)

Classification: Drawings

Credit Line: Bequest of Scofield Thayer, 1982

Accession Number: 1984.433.156


Demuth spent several summers in Provincetown, Massachusetts, located at the tip of Cape Cod and a popular summer destination for artists and writers in the early twentieth century. He painted a number of Provincetown landmarks, including this view of the Center Methodist Episcopal Church. In this watercolor, the church's prominent steeple and spire rise above the surrounding residential architecture. Built in 1860, the church had been designed in a variant of the English Baroque style, which is often associated with the architect Christopher Wren (1632-1723). Certain elements of Demuth's composition are indebted to his knowledge of Cubism and Futurism. Repeated, diagonal "lines of force" break the area of the sky into fragments, and the houses in the foreground seem crystallized from multiple planes; however, the overall effect is legible and cohesive. In demonstrating that he could apply his Precisionist style to more traditional subjects as well as modern industrial ones, Demuth remained a painter of the American scene.