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MFA Images: Beach House

  • MFA Images: Beach House - Slide

  • The Blue Boat

    1892

    Winslow Homer (American, 1836–1910 American)

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    Sheet: 38.6 x 54.6 cm (15 3/16 x 21 1/2 in.)

    Medium

    Watercolor over graphite pencil on paper

    Classification

    Watercolors

    Accession Number

    26.764

    Collections

    Americas, Prints and Drawings

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  • Women on the Beach at Futami-ga-ura

    about 1803–04 (Kyôwa 3–Bunka 1)

    Artist Kitagawa Utamaro I (Japanese, (?)–1806)

    Description

    Triptych: 11.14506 (right), 11.14507 (left), 11.14508 (center)

    MFA impressions: 06.2577-9, 11.14506-8, 21.7685-7

    Details

    Dimensions

    Vertical ôban triptych; 39 x 78.6 cm (15 3/8 x 30 15/16 in.)

    Medium

    Woodblock print (nishiki-e); ink and color on paper

    Classification

    Prints

    Accession Number

    11.14506-8

    Collections

    Asia, Prints and Drawings

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  • Approaching Storm: Beach near Newport

    about 1861–62

    Martin Johnson Heade (American, 1819–1904)

    Description

    Like many of the Hudson River School landscape painters, Martin Johnson Heade was highly attuned to meteorological phenomena. He produced this chilling scene of a thunderstorm at Point Judith, on the south coast of Rhode Island, as part of a series of compositions that depicted ominous weather at sea. Although Thomas Cole and the generation of artists who would follow him were intimately familiar with cloud formations and light effects [63.271], this scene of blackened water and eerily illuminated shoreline suggests a more potent meaning. A thunderstorm accompanying a storm-tossed boat was a common metaphor throughout nineteenth-century European and American painting for an imperiled or wrecked ship of state; the scene here is rendered with deadening calm. The three boats at full sail seem caught in imminent danger and unlikely to find a safe passage to shore. For a nation amidst the upheaval of civil war, the darkened appearance of the stormy sky also brought to mind the familiar black, sulphur-laden canopy that rose above the beleaguered nation’s battlefields.
    As the foment of war approached, popular preachers, including Heade’s life-long friend Thomas March Clark, the fifth bishop of Rhode Island, incorporated imagery of biblical deluge into their sermons, equating dark clouds lingering on the horizon with the infamy a civil war would bring. In contrast, sunlight symbolized the hope of God’s redemption. In Heade’s extraordinary scene, the blackened clouds give way to a small patch of blue sky at the upper right, and the roiling waves are juxtaposed with a supernatural glow that suffuses the promontory of Point Judith with an intense clarity.

    Of Heade’s half dozen variations on the theme of thunderstorms at the shore, this composition is the most severe and lacking in narrative details. Heade’s viewer is afforded little relief from the cloud cover and the relentless horizontality created by the ocean and the beach. Nature appears at her most terrifying and hostile, and the barrenness of the shore, which drops away from the viewer at the lower edge of the canvas, conveys the sense that there is no foothold on the edge of Heade’s abyss.

    This text was adapted from Elliot Bostwick Davis et al., American Painting [http://www.mfashop.com/9020398034.html], MFA Highlights (Boston: MFA Publications, 2003).

    Details

    Dimensions

    71.12 x 148.27 cm (28 x 58 3/8 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    45.889

    Collections

    Americas

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  • Sunset on Long Beach

    about 1867

    Artist Martin Johnson Heade (American, 1819–1904)

    Description

    In an oeuvre of 650 known oils, Heade painted more than 150 salt-marsh landscapes. No two are identical. The earliest feature the area near Newburyport, Massachusetts, located north of Boston; further south and closer to the city, he worked in Lynn and Marshfield, as well as along the Connecticut, Long Island, and New Jersey shores. Heade continued to paint marsh subjects after he moved to Florida in 1883. His last two dated works are a northern and a southern marsh executed the year of his death, 1904 (locationsof both unknown). It can be difficult to determine the exact location of his landscapes, since Heade was less interested in the specificity of topography than in capturing the effects of changing light and weather. Sunset on Long Beach belongs to a group of marshes Heade executed between the mid-1860s and mid-1870s, a prolific period of work that resulted in some of his classic wetland scenes, including Salt Marshes, Newburyport, Massachusetts[47.1152]. This sunset is dated to around 1867 because of its similarity to another composition, Ipswich Marshes (New Britain Museum of American Art, Connecticut), that Heade signed and dated that year.

    Sunset on Long Beach came into the MFA’s collection with this title. It may be a view across the wetlands of southern Long Island, New York, toward the Atlantic Ocean (which is visible at the left dotted with sailboats) near the present city of Long Beach. In this scene, the landscape is bathed in the glowing pinks of the setting sun. Heade achieved this luminosity by carefully building up his colors with delicate, thin glazes (pigments diluted with oil). These are especially evident in the cigar-shaped clouds and the sun itself, where pink and lavender tones are applied over a thicker white. Heade’s individual brushstrokes are imperceptible in the faint clouds visible in the background over the horizon—a masterful suggestion of atmosphere. In the foreground, he tinged the grasses with flecks of orange and pink, contrasting them with the lush greens. He used long strokes of green and orange, partially blended together, to create the recession of the marsh into the distance. Small haystacks, unlike the larger specimens Heade featured in other compositions [47.1152], help to emphasize the vast expanse of the landscape. Fair-weather cumulus lenticularis clouds reinforce the horizontal nature of this painting, and Heade further emphasized the breadth of the marsh by the shape of the canvas he selected—it is more than twice as wide as it is high. A masterpiece of the subtle effects of light and color, this is one of Heade’s most serene and evocative works.

    Karen E. Quinn

    Details

    Dimensions

    25.72 x 55.88 cm (10 1/8 x 22 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    47.1159

    Collections

    Americas

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  • Long Beach

    1920–23

    Maurice Brazil Prendergast (American (born in Canada),...

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    Sight: 39.4 x 57 cm (15 1/2 x 22 7/16 in.) Framed: 57.8 x 74.3 cm (22 3/4 x 29 1/4 in.)

    Medium

    Watercolor, graphite pencil and ink on paper

    Classification

    Watercolors

    Accession Number

    50.652

    Collections

    Americas, Prints and Drawings

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  • Beach with Sun Drawing Water

    1872

    William Trost Richards (American, 1833–1905 American)

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    Sheet: 17.1 x 35.2 cm (6 3/4 x 13 7/8 in.)

    Medium

    Opaque watercolor over graphite on moderately thick, slightly textured, light beige wove paper

    Classification

    Watercolors

    Accession Number

    60.1058

    Collections

    Americas, Prints and Drawings

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  • Fashionable Figures on the Beach

    1865

    Eugène Louis Boudin (French, 1824–1898)

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    35.5 x 57.5 cm (14 x 22 5/8 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on panel

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    1974.565

    Collections

    Europe

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  • Winter Dory, King's Beach, Swampscott, Massachusetts

    about 1890

    Charles Edwin Lewis Green (American, 1844–1915 American)

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    35.56 x 46.04 cm (14 x 18 1/8 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    1981.724

    Collections

    Americas

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  • Figures on the Beach

    1893

    Eugène Louis Boudin (French, 1824–1898)

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    36.5 x 59.1 cm (14 3/8 x 23 1/4 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    1993.32

    Collections

    Europe

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  • The Beach Afternoon

    about 1910

    Artist Elizabeth Wentworth Roberts (American, 1871–1927 American)

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    Unframed: 10 x 20 in. (25.4 x 50.8 cm) Framed: 34.3 x 61 cm (13 1/2 x 24 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    2007.386

    Collections

    Americas

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  • Sandpipers on a beach

    Artist Okuhara Seiko (Japanese, 1837–1913 Japanese)

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    24.2 x 25.1 cm (9 1/2 x 9 7/8 in.)

    Medium

    Woodblock print; ink and color on paper

    Classification

    Prints

    Accession Number

    RES.41.33

    Collections

    Asia, Prints and Drawings

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  • Fishing for Oysters at Cancale

    1878

    John Singer Sargent (American, 1856–1925)

    Description

    In 1877 the twenty-one year old Sargent spent the summer in Cancale on the coast of Brittany sketching fisherfolk. He sent his first completed painting, "Fishing for Oysters at Cancale," a finished sketch, to New York for display at the newly-formed, avant garde Society of American Artists from March 6 to April 5, 1878. Sargent submitted the second painting, "Oyster Gatherers of Cancale" (Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.), a larger, more finished version of the same subject, to the 1878 Paris Salon, where it was awarded an Honorable Mention. Critics praised "Fishing for Oysters at Cancale," the first Sargent painting to be exhibited in America, for its silvery hue and almost palpable marine atmosphere. Samuel Colman, a landscape painter twenty-fours years Sargent's senior, bought it for $200 as a standard to emulate. Sargent's choice of subject was not revolutionary - a similar scene of oyster harvesters had previously won a medal at the Salon. However, his ability to paint the reflections in the tidal pools and the light sparkling on the figures and clouds dazzled viewers, clearly demonstrating that his talents extended beyond portraiture.

    This text was adapted from an entry by Janet Comey in Erica Hirshler, "Impressionism Abroad: Boston and French Painting," exhibition catalogue, Royal Academy of Arts, 2005.

    Details

    Dimensions

    40.96 x 60.96 cm (16 1/8 x 24 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    35.708

    Collections

    Americas

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  • Dory

    about 1904

    Arthur Wesley Dow (American, 1857–1922)

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    Image: 16.0 x 20.7 cm (6 5/16 x 8 1/8 in.) Sheet: 16.2 x 21.5 cm (6 3/8 x 8 7/16 in.)

    Medium

    Photograph, cyanotype

    Classification

    Photographs

    Accession Number

    1983.187

    Collections

    Americas, Photography

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  • White Clapboard House and Dory

    about 1900

    Arthur Wesley Dow (American, 1857–1922)

    Description

    A number of photographers of the Arts and Crafts period sought to create images of rural simplicity infused with poetic atmosphere. One of these was Arthur Wesley Dow, an artist best known for his prints and paintings, who found inspiration in the Japanese print collection at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, where he worked in the 1890s. In response to prints by Hiroshige, Hokusai, and others, Dow developed aesthetic principles of design that focused on the flat, formal relationships of compositions and emphasized a harmony of line, tone, and color. Through his teaching and his popular manual Composition, first published in 1899, Dow influenced American art for decades. In his experiments with photography, Dow particularly appreciated the cyanotype process for the ease with which prints could be made and for their decorative blue shade.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Sheet: 16.2 x 21.6 cm (6 3/8 x 8 1/2 in.)

    Medium

    Photograph, cyanotype

    Classification

    Photographs

    Accession Number

    2006.1277.237

    Collections

    Americas, Photography

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  • Swimming

    1919

    Sugiura Hisui (Japanese, 1876–1965 Japanese)

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 13.8 x 8.8 cm (5 7/16 x 3 7/16 in.)

    Medium

    Color lithograph; ink and metallic pigment on card stock

    Classification

    Postcards

    Accession Number

    2002.1169

    Collections

    Asia, Prints and Drawings

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  • Starting Out After Rail

    1874

    Thomas Eakins (American, 1844–1916 American)

    Description

    Philadelphia painter Thomas Eakins had many and varied interests, and they all found their way into his pictures. He was an eager student of anatomy, attending lectures at local medical schools even while completing his artistic training at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; Philadelphia’s doctors and professors of medicine figure prominently among the subjects of his portraits. He was fascinated by perspective, optics, and stop-motion photography, and used perspective studies and photography in planning his oils and watercolors. He enjoyed music and often painted rehearsals, home musicales, and professionals in concert. He was also an avid outdoorsman, and especially in the 1870s, when his career was just beginning, he painted a number of pictures of friends and family members hunting, rowing, racing sailboats or, as here, setting out in pursuit of rail, small game birds that were plentiful in the marshes along the Delaware River.
    The sailors in this picture were friends of Eakins’s, Sam Helhower and Harry Young; their names are inscribed on the watercolor version of this painting (1874, Wichita Art Museum, Kansas). Eakins was a highly disciplined artist and often made carefully crafted studies in one medium as preparation for a work in another. In the case of Starting Out After Rail, he made a perspective drawing and this oil in advance of the watercolor. The composition reflects his love of boats and his fascination with perspective: as Eakins himself said, “I know of no prettier problem in perspective than to draw a yacht sailing . . . tilted over sideways by the force of the wind.”[1] Here, the “yacht” is a Delaware ducker, a small skiff that came into widespread use in the 1870s. His perspective study enabled him to place the boat so that the viewer—presumably positioned on a wharf, for the men have just begun their expedition—can see into the boat and understand its simple construction. In his precisely realistic style, honed during years of study in France with Jean-Léon Gérôme [03.605], Eakins renders the expressions of the sailors and their telling poses—one intent on manning the rudder, the other leaning more casually against the side of the boat—as vividly as in a close-up photograph. The bright sky and shimmering, blue-brown water make the scene seem even more immediate.

    Eakins clearly thought highly of this image, for he sent the oil to Gérôme in Paris to gauge his progress. The watercolor was the first picture he submitted to the American Watercolor Society’s annual shows. Although praised for its originality, the watercolor did not sell; Eakins reportedly later traded it for a boat.

    Notes
    1. Thomas Eakins, typescript, p. 41, Philadelphia Museum of Art, quoted in Kathleen A. Foster, Thomas Eakins Rediscovered: Charles Bregler’s Thomas Eakins Collection at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997), 132.

    This text was adapted from Elliot Bostwick Davis et al., American Painting [http://www.mfashop.com/9020398034.html], MFA Highlights (Boston: MFA Publications, 2003).

    Details

    Dimensions

    61.59 x 50.48 cm (24 1/4 x 19 7/8 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas mounted on Masonite

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    35.1953

    Collections

    Americas

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  • Calm Morning

    1904

    Frank Weston Benson (American, 1862–1951)

    Description

    In the late 1890s Benson began to paint outdoors and over the next two decades he produced many of his most popular plein air paintings, primarily of his family at play during idyllic summers. The setting is the island of North Haven, Maine; the family rented Wooster Farm there, beginning in 1901, and later purchased it. In Calm Morning Benson depicted his three oldest children fishing over the side of a dory—Eleanor, the eldest, to the left in the stern of the boat; Elisabeth to the right; and George standing. Benson’s bright, luminous colors and long varied brush strokes give the effect of warm sun shining on the children and the inside of the boat, contrasting with the cool, quiet ocean. He skillfully captured the reflections on the stern of the boat and the deep green color of the water in its shadow. Although Benson usually composed and painted a finished oil directly on the canvas, for Calm Morning he took a more academic approach, making three oil studies which he combined into this larger work. Benson was pleased with the result, declaring it his “best out of door work.”[1]

    Notes
    1. Frank W. Benson to James Gest, May 11, 1905, Benson file, Cincinnati Museum of Art, Ohio.

    This text was adapted from Janet L. Comey’s entry in Impressionism Abroad: Boston and French Painting, by Erica E. Hirshler et al., exh.cat. (London: Royal Academy of Arts, 2005).

    Details

    Dimensions

    112.71 x 91.76 cm (44 3/8 x 36 1/8 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    1985.925

    Collections

    Americas

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  • Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 13.8 x 8.8 cm (5 7/16 x 3 7/16 in.)

    Medium

    Color lithograph; ink and metallic pigment on card stock

    Classification

    Postcards

    Accession Number

    2002.1432

    Collections

    Asia, Prints and Drawings

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  • Dollarfish and Sheepshead

    1860

    William Aiken Walker (American, 1839–1921 American)

    Description

    In the decades before the American Civil War, still lifes of fish and game could be found in many of the finer homes of Charleston, South Carolina, where hunting and fishing were popular pastimes among wealthy gentleman. Such paintings announced the owner's prosperity and his prowess as a sportsman. Walker, just twenty-one and limited in his formal art training, produced this highly naturalistic portrayal of two species of saltwater fish hanging on strings from square-headed nails. Shadows cast against the distinctive yellow of the Southern Pine planks suggest depth, completing the illusionistic effect.

    In the art of the United States, such convincing "trompe l'oeil" technique is more frequently associated with artists of the late nineteenth century, among them William Michael Harnett [39.761], John Frederick Peto [62.278, 64.411], and De Scott Evans [1984.86]. Working twenty years before those painters came to prominence, Walker's still lifes responded to an established regional tradition. Most prominently visible in Charleston during Walker’s youth was the work of Charles Fraser. A generation older than Walker, Fraser had painted similar game scenes of birds or fish hanging from square headed nails against pine board planks. Fraser's paintings were exhibited in Charleston in 1857 and two still lifes of Sheepshead were included in the display. Walker must have been familiar with Fraser's examples, or others of this type. Such still lifes occupied Walker for only a few years. After the Civil War, Walker turned his attention to the genre scenes for which he is best known. While his unabashedly derogatory portrayals of African Americans are troubling for modern audiences, these views of agrarian life in the Old South found a ready audience in the late nineteenth century among white Southerners who were nostalgic for the antebellum past.

    Cody Hartley

    Details

    Dimensions

    61.59 x 51.12 cm (24 1/4 x 20 1/8 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    48.485

    Collections

    Americas

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  • Fisherman's Family (The Lookout)

    1881

    Winslow Homer (American, 1836–1910 American)

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    Sheet: 34.2 x 49.2 cm (13 1/2 x 19 3/8 in.)

    Medium

    Watercolor over graphite pencil on paper

    Classification

    Watercolors

    Accession Number

    48.726

    Collections

    Americas, Prints and Drawings

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  • "Sur La Falaise - Robe d'été de Redfern," plate...

    August 1913

    Francisco Javier Gosé (Spanish, 1876–1915)

    Description

    Robe de Redfern pour l'été en tulle de soie athénien rouge et blanc. Boucle de corail à la ceinture.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 25.4 x 19.1 cm (10 x 7 1/2 in.)

    Medium

    Photomechanical lithograph with hand-applied color (pochoir)

    Classification

    Books and manuscripts, Books

    Accession Number

    2004.15.7

    Collections

    Europe

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  • Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 8.8 x 13.8 cm (3 7/16 x 5 7/16 in.)

    Medium

    Color lithograph; ink and metallic pigment on card stock

    Classification

    Postcards

    Accession Number

    2002.2650

    Collections

    Asia, Prints and Drawings

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  • Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 13.8 x 8.8 cm (5 7/16 x 3 7/16 in.)

    Medium

    Color lithograph; embossing; ink, color, and metallic pigments on paper

    Classification

    Postcards

    Accession Number

    2002.1397

    Collections

    Asia, Prints and Drawings

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  • Ouananiche Fishing, Lake St. John, Province of Quebec

    1897

    Winslow Homer (American, 1836–1910 American)

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    35.56 x 53.34 cm (14 x 21 in.)

    Medium

    Watercolor over graphite pencil on paper

    Classification

    Watercolors

    Accession Number

    99.30

    Collections

    Americas, Prints and Drawings

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  • Lighthouse and Buildings, Portland Head, Cape Elizabeth, Maine

    1927

    Edward Hopper (American, 1882–1967)

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    Sheet: 34.3 x 49.5 cm (13 1/2 x 19 1/2 in.) Framed: 59.1 x 72.4 cm (23 1/4 x 28 1/2 in.)

    Medium

    Watercolor over graphite pencil on paper

    Classification

    Watercolors

    Accession Number

    48.723

    Collections

    Americas, Prints and Drawings

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  • Under the Wave off Kanagawa (Kanagawa-oki nami-ura), also known...

    about 1830–31 (Tenpô 1–2)

    Artist Katsushika Hokusai (Japanese, 1760–1849)

    Description

    MFA impressions: 06.1153, 06.1283, 06.2548, 11.17652, 21.6764, 21.6765, 34.317

    Details

    Dimensions

    Horizontal ôban; 25.8 x 38 cm (10 3/16 x 14 15/16 in.)

    Medium

    Woodblock print (nishiki-e); ink and color on paper

    Classification

    Prints

    Accession Number

    21.6765

    Collections

    Asia, Prints and Drawings

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  • Fisherman's Cottage on the Cliffs at Varengeville

    1882

    Description

    Summertime often drew Monet to the English Channel coast, and in 1881 and 1882 he explored the area around Dieppe, situated about ninety-six kilometers to the east along the coast from Le Havre. For the purpose of giving focus to the scenes he painted in Pourville and Varengeville, west of Dieppe, Monet liked the stone cabins that had been built during the Napoleonic era as posts from which to observe coastal traffic. In Monet's day they were used by fishermen for storage. The door and flanking windows anthropomorphize the cottage, giving it a nose and two eyes. We may see the cottage, but we cannot reach it, for there is no path. Indeed, all we can do is admire the view out to sea. The Channel, dotted with recreational yachts, sparkles in the distance. The cottage, especially its roof, is given an orange hue, which it may truly have possessed but which makes a striking contrast of complementaries with the blue of the water on the horizon.

    Details

    Dimensions

    60.6 x 81.6 cm (23 7/8 x 32 1/8 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    21.1331

    Collections

    Europe

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  • Untitled (Sailboat)

    Edwin Hale Lincoln (American, 1848–1938 American)

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    Sheet: 24.1 x 19 cm (9 1/2 x 7 1/2 in.)

    Medium

    Photograph, platinum print

    Classification

    Photographs

    Accession Number

    2007.909

    Collections

    Americas, Photography

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  • Seascape (The Mediterranean with Mount Agde)

    1856–59

    Gustave Le Gray (French, 1820–1882 French)

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    Image/Sheet: 30.7 x 40.0 cm (12 1/16 x 15 3/4 in.)

    Medium

    Photograph, albumen print from wet collodion glass-plate negative

    Classification

    Photographs

    Accession Number

    1997.240

    Collections

    Europe, Photography

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  • Two Boats

    1919 (block cut 1919)

    Artist Blanche Lazzell (American, 1878–1956)

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    30.5 x 29.1 cm (12 x 11 7/16 in.) image

    Medium

    Color woodcut

    Classification

    Prints

    Accession Number

    2001.873

    Collections

    Americas, Prints and Drawings

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  • Textile sample

    Late 19th century

    Description

    Textile sample with design of two tortoises (kame) and bamboo (take) in light and dark gray, light and dark green, white and blue against a blue and tan pine bark pattern (matsukawabishi) background.

    Details

    Dimensions

    29.1 x 34.4 cm (11 7/16 x 13 9/16 in.)

    Medium

    Silk plain-weave, hand drawn paste resist-dyed and painted (yûzen)

    Classification

    Textiles

    Accession Number

    98.370

    Collections

    Asia, Textiles and Fashion Arts

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  • Waves in Moonlight

    about 1904–05

    Yokoyama Taikan (Japanese, 1868–1958 Japanese)

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    Image: 48.8 x 64 cm (19 3/16 x 25 3/16 in.)

    Medium

    Unmounted; ink and color on silk

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    41.499

    Collections

    Asia

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  • Fishhook From Hawaii No. 2

    1939

    Georgia O'Keeffe (American, 1887–1986)

    Description

    Georgia O'Keeffe visited Hawaii in early 1939 at the invitation of the Dole Pineapple Company. N. W. Ayer, Dole's advertising agency, had offered to pay for her travel and living expenses for the duration of her stay if, upon its conclusion, O'Keeffe submitted to them two paintings of any subject suitable for use in the corporation's advertising materials. O'Keeffe agreed, and spent January through April of that year in Honolulu and Maui. The experience inspired her to create a number of botanical still-lifes, seascapes, landscapes, and two images of fishhooks, including "Fishhook From Hawaii No. 2." Once she returned to New York, O'Keeffe sent to Charles Coiner, art director of N. W. Ayer, a painting of a papaya tree and one of a red heliconia flower. By depicting a papaya tree, O'Keeffe had unwittingly selected a fruit grown and sold by Dole's competitors. Coiner immediately shipped O'Keeffe a large budding pineapple plant and she obligingly painted a replacement image. Despite her efforts to provide Dole with appropriate works, the corporation never chose to use O'Keeffe's paintings in their ad campaigns for reasons that remain unclear.

    O'Keeffe exhibited twenty Hawaiian pictures in the spring of 1940 at An American Place, the Madison Avenue art gallery that her husband, photographer Alfred Stieglitz, operated between 1929 and 1946. In the accompanying brochure, O'Keeffe wrote, "If my painting is what I have to give back to the world for what the world gives to me, I may say that these paintings are what I have to give at present for what three months in Hawaii gave to me . . . What I have been able to put into form seems infinitesimal compared with the variety of experience." The exhibition was well received, with the influential art critic Henry McBride writing that O'Keeffe's fishhook paintings had "a strange and mystical elegance." (Henry McBride, "Georgia O'Keeffe's Hawaii," "The New York Sun," February 10, 1940, p. 10).

    "Fishhook From Hawaii No. 2" shows a standard feather fishing lure attached to a coiled leader and swivel. These recognizable objects are set against a distant horizon line. The daringly modernist composition is remarkably empty of objects, especially in the lower register. Rather, the painting takes as its subject the many subtle variations on the color blue, accented by a touch of green at far left, which O'Keeffe found in the tropical Pacific Ocean off Hawaii.

    O'Keeffe's fishhook paintings represent an important conceptual breakthrough for the artist. Always intrigued by the concept of positive and negative space, she began in these works to explore a new and unique compositional structure based on the visual experience of looking through an opening. O'Keeffe perfected this organization in her pelvis series of the early 1940s, an extraordinary group of paintings that show the blue New Mexico sky through gaps in a stark white pelvis bone. In both the fishhook and the pelvis pictures, the central opening distorts that which is seen through it, almost as if it were a lens. For example, in "Fishhook From Hawaii No. 2," the circle of coiled wire both intensifies and magnifies the blue sea and pink horizon line in the distance. These paintings are in many ways O'Keeffe's sustained meditation on the nature of vision; after all, the human eye is itself a distorting and revealing lens. It is therefore fitting that, in "Fishhook From Hawaii No. 2," the fishing lure's red rhinestone eye glints back at the viewer, demonstrating that in the act of seeing we are often seen.

    Heather Hole
    October 2009

    Details

    Dimensions

    91.12 x 60.64 cm (35 7/8 x 23 7/8 in.)

    Medium

    Oil on canvas

    Classification

    Paintings

    Accession Number

    1987.540

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
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  • Poem No. 6: Image de la Mer

    1948 (Shôwa 23)

    Artist Onchi Kôshirô (Japanese, 1891–1955)

    Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    78.6 x 55.1 cm (30 15/16 x 21 11/16 in.)

    Medium

    Woodblock and paperblock print; ink and color on paper

    Classification

    Prints

    Accession Number

    59.478

    Collections

    Asia, Prints and Drawings

    Not On View
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  • Description
    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 13.8 x 8.8 cm (5 7/16 x 3 7/16 in.)

    Medium

    Color lithograph; ink on card stock

    Classification

    Postcards

    Accession Number

    2002.18692

    Collections

    Asia, Prints and Drawings

    Not On View
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