The Cello Player

(128)
1924–26
Provincetown, MA
Oil on canvas
60 x 48 1/2 in. (152.4 x 123.2 cm)
Signed, dated toward lower right on back of chair: "E W Dickinson / 1924-6"
Photo: The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

Notes

Notes: Painted in Provincetown, MA, March 4, 1924 - August 27, 1926.

1924, March 2 "planned 4 x 5.", 4 "began 4 x 5 of Herman.", 5, 6, 8, 13, 14, 15, 18, 19, 20, 22, 24, 25, 26, 29, 31, April 2, 7, 10, 11, 15, 16, 17, 18, 22, 23, 24 "still life", 25, 26, 28, May 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 19, 20 "(50)", 21, 27, 28, June 1 "increased % of oil in medium.), 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 10, 11, 18, 19, 21, 24, 25, July 2, 3, September 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 25, 26, 27, 29, 30, November 18 "began new figure [John Cordes replaced Herman] on 4 x 5.", 19, 20, 21, 22, 25, 26, 29, December 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 9, 10, 11, 12, 15, 16, 18, 20, 22 "(100)", 23, 26, 27, 29, 30, 31.

1925: January 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, (still life), 7, (PM still life), 8, 9, 10, 14, 15, 16, 19, 21, 22, 23, 26, 28, 29, 30, February 2, 4, 5, 6, 10, 11, 13, 14, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 24, 25, 27, 28, March 2, 3, 4, (1 year on 4 x 5), 5 (& planning, pd. John Cordes $10, total to date, $30), 6, 7, 12, 13, 17, 18, 20, 21, 23, 25, (pd Cordes, total now $48), 26, 27, 30, 31, April 1, 3, 6, 7, 9, 10, 21, 22, 23, 24, 29, 30, May 5, 6, 7, 9, 11, June 26, 27, 29, 30 (185, equal to sittings on Anniversary), July 1, 3, 7, 8, 9, 16, August 5, 6, 10, September 8, 9, 14, 22, 23, 25 (200th sitting), 27, 28, 29, 30, October 1, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 27, 28, 29, 30, November 3, 4, 17, 18, 19, 20, "Rebegan John Cordes", 21, 23, 24, 25, 29, 30, December 1, 2, 4, 29, 30, 31.

1926: January 1, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, (still life), 11, 12, 13, 14, 16, 19, 20, 21, 30, (250), February 3,"PM reviewing work", 4, 5, (paid John Cordes $5), 6, 8, 9, 12, 13, 15, 16 "finished John Cordes.", 18, 19, "(cello)", 20, 23, 24, 25, 26, March 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 16, 17, 18, 20, April 26, 27, 28, 29, August 26, 27, 290 sittings, "fini Cello- P."(all journal).

October 17 1956 it on way from Ted Beall's to ASL, (journal). November 12 1956 "talked with Sheldon Keck [conservator]. Cello Player to go to the Brooklyn Mus for cleaning & repair. Later it should be re-lined. cleaning etc. $150-200 relining about $500", November 28 "Seldon Keck's 'The Cello Player' rejuvenated!", December 8 "CP nearly completed", December 11 beer with Ted Beall [Cecil Calvert] after ASL "'Cello Player mine." September 25 the anniversary of 200th sitting on The Cello Player (journal, 1961).

There is a photograph of John Cordes posing in Dickinson studio [at 46 Pearl Street] for The 'Cello Player. Behind him is a curtain covering what HDB remembers as shelves of dishes and in the rear to the right is Emma Carter Dickinson's bureau. Standing on the marble-topped side section is an enamel coffee pot similar to those seen in the painting.

There is also a photograph of central section of The 'Cello Player with John Cordes. The photograph is similar but not identical to the final state of the painting. The upper right is quite indistinct and just above Cordes; right shoulder is a white jar which did not last, nor did the objects just above it, perhaps a book and something else by his head. At the upper right the organ and artificial rose have not yet appeared. The Sherman tea pot (from which General Sherman is believed to have been served tea), the copy of Burns, the scallop shell, the kettles, the curling music sheet, the back of the chair and the end of the piano remained. Cordes' hand and arm appear to be in their final state. The 'cello is sketchily rendered and the bow appears! But the 'cello took on a quite different aspect becoming more covered by the piano on the right and the f hole painted in on the left instead of on the right. The legs of the music stand became fewer and a white pitcher appeared behind it. The 'cello is not in good repair, its cracks being carefully drawn. The shadow of the lowest kettle is carefully painted onto the kettle at his elbow.

Journal, November 2, 1950, list of objects in the painting: "14 books; 2 potatoes; 2 saucers; 3 sheets of music; (Intermezzo for Cavaliera Rusticana, Marriage of Figaro, LVB quatuor [sic] 18 #2, 2nd violin, Allegro); 2 china pitchers (Sherman); 1 photograph; 7 shells; 1 trilobite; 3 kettles; 1 rose; 1 music stand; 1 chair; 1 organ; 1 piano; 1 'cello; John Cordes. (45 pieces of still life)."

Journal, March 19, 1957, "Isabel [Bishop] called; said Mrs. Joseph Roby, 791 Park Ave., wants option on The 'Cello Player (which is now in Toledo). Isabel says she expects her to buy it. Lloyd Goodrich advised her to buy it. She knows the price is $5000=." April 30, 1957 "Isabel called. Mrs. Roby 791 Park Av wants The 'Cello Player sent to her appt [sic]. May 1, 1957, Sheldon Keck all paid for cleaning of The 'Cello Player and CC Beall entirely paid for it. It now belongs to ED. May 7, 1957, The 'Cello Player to be shipped to Mrs. Roby. May 21, 1957 "to Mrs. Joseph Roby's 791 Park Av. say The 'Cello Player thought it looked beautiful. condition fine. The Sarah [sic] Roby Fdn. has purchased it for $5000; 4 now & 1 at New Years 1958." Journal, July 20 1957, "wrote "Mrs. Roby & sent bill for 'Cello Player: 4000 now & 1 on 15 Jan."

To EHS, March 7, 1924, "I am doing a large canvas of a 'cellist." To EHS, "I decided to begin a representative thing . . . & now engrossed & you are right something new to show is right as rain. 4 x 5 ft. single figure . . . " "I feel very well set up now & imagine the $50 monthly payments on the large canvas will begin next month, [the first of what would be monthly payments for 20 years.]" To EHS, September 8, 1924, "My canvas looks better than I had expected it to and am anxious to resume work." To EHS, September 22, ". . . I am at work on something I wish to work on let me picture to you what state my studio must be in in the canvas is 4 x 5 ft and so far has besides the sitter: 9 sheets of music, 2 teakettles, 1 chair, 1 potatoe, [sic], 4 sea shells, 1 bowl, 1 cup, 1 satin slipper, 1 pitcher, 3 books a 'cello and a piano." To EHS, April 15, 1925, ". . . the large canvas . . . is now 170 sittings . . . " To EHS, August 6, "I have had 192 sittings on this canvas . . . To EHS, March 4, 1926, "I am in the last lap of the 4 x 5 . . ." To EHS, July 15, "The large canvas . . . is invited to Pittsburgh and must do something more on it before Sept. ninth." To EHS, August 20, "I am finishing The 'Cello Player."

1957: May 21, he saw "The Cello Player" at Mrs. Roby's and "thought it looked beautiful."

Provenance

Cecil Calvert Beall
Artist
Sara Roby Foundation
Deborah and Edward Shein
M.H. de Young Memorial Museum, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

Exhibition History

1938 Passedoit Gallery: Paintings by Edwin W. Dickinson
1949 Brooklyn Museum: 38 Artists Who Teach
195758 Cornell University: Edwin Dickinson, Visiting Artist: An Exhibition of Paintings, 1912-1956
1959 Boston University Art Gallery: Edwin Dickinson, Retrospective Exhibition
1961 James Graham & Sons: Edwin Dickinson, Retrospective
1965 Whitney: Edwin Dickinson. Major retrospective
1966 Pennsylvania Academy: Paintings by Edwin Dickinson
196869 Venice Biennial: The Figurative Tradition in Recent American Art: Edwin Dickinson
197273 National Collection of Fine Arts: Paintings from the Sara Roby Collection
1982b NAD: Art Students League Benefit Sale
1983 Hirschl & Adler Galleries: Realism and Abstraction: Counterpoints in American Drawings, 1900-1940
1986 Washburn Gallery: 15th Anniversary