Portrait of Ralph Dusenberry

Artist: Arthur Dove (American, Canandaigua, New York 1880–1946 Huntington, New York)

Date: 1924

Medium: Oil, folding wooden rulers, wood, and cut-and-pasted printed paper on canvas

Dimensions: 22 x 18 in. (55.9 x 45.7 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1949

Accession Number: 49.70.36


Among the most accomplished abstract American artists, Dove created inventive symbolic portraits of friends using found materials. Ralph Dusenberry, Dove’s neighbor, lived in a houseboat on the North Shore of Long Island. The artist selected the objects in this work for their associations with Dusenberry’s personality and interests: the sheet music pasted at the bottom is a hymn that Dusenberry often sang, while the folding rulers that frame the composition point to his profession as an architect. The pieces of weathered wood refer to the docks, shingled cabins, and shipbuilding materials of the marine environment.