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American Paintings and Sculpture
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Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
PrevNext2 of 2
Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
Artist: Thomas Wilmer Dewing, American, 1851–1938
Designer: Stanford White, American, 1853–1906

Summer

1890

Oil on canvas in an original gilded plaster and pine frame

20 1/2 × 36 in. (52.1 × 91.4 cm)
Gift of the Estate of Miss Frances L. Howland
1947.83
Thomas Wilmer Dewing’s dreamlike settings stand in stark contrast to the newly industrialized, gritty environment of late nineteenth-century America. Inspired by the work of James McNeill Whistler, Asian design, and music, Dewing believed that the purpose of the artist is to “see beautifully.” While slender birches sway in measured counterpoint and delicate harp music fills the air, four elegant young women perform a stately arabesque across the canvas, their glowing evening gowns a graceful beat of muted gold, rose, brown, pink, and red. Dewing’s friend the architect Stanford White made the decorative frame.
Geography: 
Made in United States
Status: 
On view
Culture: 
American
Period: 
19th century
Classification: 
Paintings
Provenance: 

Charles Lang Freer, by purchase from the artist for his friend James B. Williams, by c. 1891-unknown date; Miss Francis L. Howland; gift of the estate of Miss Frances L. Howland to Yale University Art Gallery.

Bibliography: 

“At the Academy of Design,” New York Times (May 10, 1891).

“The Academy Exhibition,” Art Amateur 24 (May 1891): 142.

“The National Academy of Design,” Art Interchange 26 (April 25, 1891): 129.

C. H. Caffin and Freer Gallery of Art Scrapbooks, “Art Notes,” New York Sun (February 28, 1900).

Richard Watson Gilder, The Poems of Richard Watson Gilder (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1908), p. 156.

Helen A. Cooper and Jules David Prown, “Americans Paintings and Sculpture at Yale,” Antiques 117 (June 1980).

Theodore E. Stebbins Jr. and Galina Gorokhoff, A Checklist of American Paintings at Yale University (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1982), 39.

American Art Analog, 3 (New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986).

Martha Banta, Imaging American Women: Idea and Ideals in Cultural History (New York: Columbia University Press, 1987).

Matthew M. McCarty, “The City in Summer,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2004): 102, fig. 1.

Michael Quick, George Inness: A Catalgoue Raisonne, 2 (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University, 2007), 37.

Helen A. Cooper et al., Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness: American Art from the Yale University Art Gallery, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2008), 350–51, no. 228, ill.

Susan A. Hobbs and Shoshanna Abeles, Thomas Wilmer Dewing: Beauty into Art, A Catalogue Raisonne (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2018), 242–43, no. 96, fig. 96.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.