Charles Demuth (American, Lancaster, Pennsylvania 1883–1935 Lancaster, Pennsylvania)
Watercolor, gouache, and graphite on cardboard
24 x 20 in. (61 x 50.8 cm)
Bequest of Scofield Thayer, 1982
Not on view
Scofield Thayer, the donor of this work, was not only an avid collector of modern art between 1919 and 1924, but he was also the editor and co-owner of the literary magazine, The Dial, which published the most avant-garde writers and artists of the day. He purchased this picture in 1921 after corresponding with Demuth, who wrote back: "If you feel sure that money and a canvas of mine can 'talk' (I myself have found them so unrelated), at the same pitch, -- well then dear Mr. Thayer, I don't see the way out, and accept your, was it, 'outrageous proposal'." Pictured in the center of this composition is the steeple of the old Center Methodist Episcopal Church in Provincetown, Massachusetts (now the Provincetown Heritage Museum). Demuth's Precisionist use of ruled lines, geometric forms, and crossing beams of light, is typical of his architectural paintings and drawings from the 1920s, which more frequently depicted views of the houses, churches, and factories around his hometown of Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings
Inscription: Signed and dated (lower left): C. Demuth 1920; inscribed (lower right): Provincetown, Mass
the artist (1920–21; sold in 1921 to Thayer); Scofield Thayer, New York (1921–d. 1982; on extended loan to the Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, Mass., as part of the Dial Collection, 1931–82, inv. 31.761; his bequest to MMA)
New York. Montross Gallery. "Original Paintings, Drawings, and Engravings Being Exhibited with the Dial Folio 'Living Art'," January 26–February 14, 1924, unnum. checklist.
Worcester Art Museum. "Exhibition of the Dial Collection of Paintings, Engravings, and Drawings by Contemporary Artists," March 5–30, 1924, no. 7.
Northampton, Mass. Hillyer Art Gallery, Smith College. "The Dial Collection," May 1924, no catalogue.
Museum of Modern Art, New York. "Charles Demuth," March 7–June 11, 1950, no. 105 (lent anonymously through the courtesy of the Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, Mass.).
Worcester Art Museum. "The Dial and the Dial Collection," April 30–September 8, 1959, no. 22.
Worcester Art Museum. "Selections from the Dial Collection," November 13–30, 1965, no catalogue.
Worcester Art Museum. "The Dial Revisited," June 29–August 22, 1971, no catalogue.
Worcester Art Museum. "'The Dial': Arts and Letters in the 1920s," March 7–May 10, 1981, no. 31.
New York. Whitney Museum of American Art. "Charles Demuth," October 15, 1987–January 17,1988, unnumbered cat. (pl. 59).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Charles Demuth," May 9–August 31, 2003, no catalogue.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "American Drawings (1900–1950): Selections from the Permanent Collection," October 25, 2005–April 23, 2006, no catalogue.
"The World of Art." New York Times (December 19, 1920), p. BR11, ill., as "New England".
A. E. Gallatin. Charles Demuth. New York, 1927, unpaginated, ill., as "New England," tempera.
Andrew Carnduff Ritchie. Charles Demuth. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York. New York, 1950, pp. 14, 92, ill. p. 71.
Nicholas Joost. "The Dial Collection: Tastes and Trends of the 'Twenties." Apollo 94 (December 1971), p. 494, fig. 7.
Michael Brenson. "Met Museum Given Major Private Collection." New York Times (August 25, 1982), p. C18.
Alvord L. Eiseman. Charles Demuth. New York, 1982, pp. 15–16, 25, calls it "After Sir Christopher Wren" (or "New England").
John Richardson. "Rediscovering an Early Modern Vision: The Dial Collection Recalls the Life and Times of Scofield Thayer." House and Garden 159 (February 1987), ill. p. 162 (color).
James M. Dennis. Renegade Regionalists: The Modern Independence of Grant Wood, Thomas Hart Benton, and John Steuart Curry. Madison, 1998, pp. 203–4, fig. 122.
Kristina Wilson. "Fearing a 'Conservative Public': The Dial Collection in Worcester." American Art 27 (Fall 2013), pp. 30–32, figs. 2 (installation photo, Exh. Worcester 1924), 3 (color).