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Seeing America

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The Garden

20 x 24 in. (50.8 x 61 cm)

Ernest Lawson
United States (Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, 1873 - 1939, Miami, FL)

Object Type: Painting
Medium and Support: Oil on canvas
Credit Line: Gift of the Estate of Emily and James Sibley Watson
Accession Number: 1951.36
Link to this object
Location: Not currently on view

While many early twentieth century American paintings celebrated buildings, bridges and the hustle and bustle of the city, tranquil subjects, including Ashcan artist Ernest Lawson’s Garden, filled canvases as well.

In documenting a formal garden owned by H.H. Rogers in exclusive Tuxedo Park, New York, Lawson chose rich and vivid colors that evoked the warmth and languor of a summer interlude. The view of the charming teahouse, complete with sculpture, suggests afternoons filled with genteel conversation and desultory reading, or spent drifting off to the sound of lapping water, far removed from the clamor of Lie’s nearby Brooklyn Bridge or Sloan’s Election Night.

[Gallery label text, 2007]

Ernest Lawson moved to New York in 1898, and in 1908 he exhibited at Macbeth Gallery with The Eight.

While this garden vista is an uncharacteristically intimate view by Lawson, it demonstrates his intense use of a color palette that was referred to as consisting of "crushed jewels." The painting was exhibited in 1916 at the Memorial Art Gallery, acquired from the exhibition by longtime MAG patrons, the Watsons, and generously donated to the Gallery in 1951. Long thought to be a Rochester garden, the subject was definitively identified by Deirdre Cunningham, the George Eastman House Nancy R. Turner landscape curator, as a garden in Tuxedo Park, New York. The current owners are in the process of restoring the garden, abandoned for many years, to its original beauty.

[Gallery label text, 2003]

Artist's signature, lower left: E. Lawson 1914

Daniel Gallery, New York; purchased by Mr. and Mrs. James Sibley Watson, Rochester, NY in 1916; given to the Gallery in 1951

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Web Links See links to web pages and lesson plans
Seeing America Inservice Materials from a teacher in-service presentation Spring 2008
Seeing America Chapter on Ernest Lawson's The Garden, written by Deirdre F. Cunningham.

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