Composition with Still Life

(217)
Alternate Title(s):
Figures and Still Life
1933–37
Provincetown, MA & Buffalo, NY
Oil on linen
97 x 77 3/4 in. (246.4 x 197.5 cm)
Dated and signed on bottom: "1937 / E W Dickinson"
Photo: The Museum of Modern Art

Notes

Notes: Painted in Provincetown, MA & Buffalo, NY. Journal: 1933; November 2, ordered stretcher for 96 x 77, 3, stretcher came, 5 ED and Philip Malicoat stretched the 96 x 77, 8, planned and model came, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, December 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9 (paid Helen through 28 sittings), 11, 12, 13, 14, 16, 17, 18, 21, 22 (paid to date), 23, 26. 1934; January 5, 6, 7, 8 (paid to date), 9, 10, 11, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24 (50 sittings), 25, 26, February 5, 6, 7 (paid through 56 sittings) August 6, 7 (sail), 8 (sail), 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 23, 24, 29 (drapery), 30 (sail) (70 sittings), 31 (sail), memo (began sail in 96/77), September 1 (sail), 2 (sail), 3 (sail), 4 (sail), 5 (sail), 6 (sail), 7 (sail), 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17, 18 (sail), 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24 (fini sail).

1934: October 15, 96/77 arrived in Buffalo. October 23, 24, 31, November 2, 3 (100 sittings), 4, 6, 10 (planning), 11 (rigging still life in studio), 14, 15, 16, 21, 24 (screw), 25, 26, 27, 28, 29,30, December 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 (began mirror), 13 (mirror), 14, 16, 16, 18, 19 (rigged light), 20, 22 (130 sittings), 28, 29.

1935: January 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 19, 22, March 2 drew background, (whaleship), 5 drew, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 22, 23, 24, 26 (mirror), 27, (155 sittings), 28 (mirror), 29, 30, 31 (mirror), April 2, 3 (planning still Life), 4 (mirror), 5, 7, 11, 12, 13, 14, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 24 (mirror), 25, 26 (spiral), 27, 28, 30 (re-arranging still life), May 1, 2, 3,4, 5, 9, 23, 27 (201 sittings), 29, 30, 31, June 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9 (fini pitcher), 11, 12 (mixed), 13, 14, 15, 16, 18 (tubing mirror), 25, boxing 96 x 77, July 3 canvases come from Buffalo, August 22, mirror comes from Buffalo, 25 re-organizing studio for 96/77, September 15, "painted & planned", October 30, "planning 96/77", 31, November 1, 2 , planning, 3 (220 sittings), 4, 5, 6, 9, 11 "change of heart on 96/77.", 12 (mixed in studio), 13 (mixed), 14 (mixed), 15 (mixed), 16 (mixed Value A, fini 14 tubes of it), 25, (planning foreground), 26 (drew octagonal pitcher), 29, 30, December 1 (octagonal pitcher), 2, (pitcher), 3 (pitcher & planned), 4, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 23, 24.

1936: March 27, 28, 29, 30, May 5 (mirror), 6 (mirror), 7 (mirror), 8 (mirror), 9,, 10 (mirror), 11, 12 (mirror), 15, "adeliting planning", 16, 19, 20, 21, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, June 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, 17, 18 (planning foreground), 19, 20, 21, 24, 25, 26, 27 (300 sittings), 28, 30, July 1, 2, 3 "(blunder)(cost 2 sittings.)", 4, 6, 7, July 11 "present canvas 96 x 77 now", 12, 19 (Helen Souza), 21, 22, August 16, (planning), 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 25, 26, 27, 28, September 1, 4 planning, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, upkeep & planning, 13, plannng, 15, 16, 17, 18, planning, 30, planning, October 6, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 13, 14, 15, planned drapery, 16, planning middle section drape, 17, set up drape, 18, drape, 19 adeliting for drapery, 21, 22, 23, 27, 28, 29, November 1, 2, 5 (350 sittings), 6, 7, 10, 11, 12, 18, 19, 20, 23, 24, 25, 28, 30, December 1, 2, 8, 15, 16, 17, 18, 23, 24, 28, 29.

1937:

To EHS, December 15, 1933 "I am well started on a new canvas, a large one, one piece of linen the heighth of and five inches wider than, The Fossil Hunters (96 x 77). Overhauled the studio completely for this canvas, the 1st piece on which is a life size nude now nearing completion after 30 sittings.""I am happy to be on this one which I confidently hope to finish by April 1st. I have a RR station stove here in the studio & can have figure models in the winter - Sidney [Dickinson] is sending me a fine piece of drapery (50 x 90") which I have seen before, having slept very cold under it many times when blankets were scarce in his place. But a man makes a fine night in his sleep under it as it is a cool pink silk brocade with apricot shaddows [sic] & a gold fringe. Resolved this figure into 12 values (nude 7, foreground 5) which mixed in good quantity (took about 10 sittings) & keep under water in bowls." To EHS, August 20, 1935, making arrangements to have mirror in lower left, sent from Buffalo to Provincetown. To EHS, September 1935, safe arrival of the mirror. To EHS, December 5, 1935, "the necessity of this being done my best as soon as possible seems vital to me from every angle of my life. I dont [sic] know what would happen to me if anything happened to it, . . . I most of the time care nothing about anything but getting the painting done." To EHS, after April 28, 1936 "Re-painting yr mirror - for last time -" To EHS, May 14, 1936, "I lost 4 months on the canvas this winter, am now painting steadily. . . " To EHS, June 30, 1936,"is there anyway by which I can have forwarded to me here [Provincetown] the blue pitcher I painted in the foreground? I need it much." To EHS, December 12, 1936, "I am still using the morror, pitcher and bowl. I have to paint in several sections of the canvas regularly, returning to the sections cotaining these pieces. . . . It means everything to my wellfare that at this late day, this piece is not yet 'set'." To EHS, December 18, 1936, he asks for a book she has on spirals.

To FD from Buffalo, June 14, 1937:"The large canvas to be completed must be reorganized - oh not a long thing but no more adjusting to what had been done. Not interested enough to invent any more. You know when my equipment I cannot call upon I know I am proceeding badly. A group from nature as well fitted as I can, letting the chips fall where they will -"

Journal, Feb. 23, 1939; this piece invited to Corcoran but withdrawn when learned how big it is.

To EHS, October 13, 1937, he has "taken up the practically abandoned 96 x 77 - just before you came here. Of its 51 sq. st. all but about 15 have been repainted. Considerable of the mirror, the foreground nude, some sail & trees, all of the previous standing remain - so you will know it - but they have been given a different appearance, the old nude completely redone, & a new one the lay-in which you saw, above her. To EHS, November 2, 1937, "canvas finished." To EHS, November 5, 1937 "I finished the 97 x 78 Nov. 1st, having re- organizedit in 50 sittings since you and Esther left." "With what I learned from my summeer's work, & having pulled the large one some distance from the depths, I feel free and anxious to work under these new conditions . . . ."

To EHS, November 8, 1945,"The 77 x 96, which hung so long in your home before hanging nearly two years in Cambridge [at Geissbuhler's], is hanging now at the League [ASL] where it will hang all winter, I suppose. I have never liked the title of the piece, and think I should call it 'The Flying Dutchman.'"

1938: letter to FD, October 16; "Caton Rich has invited the F & Still Life to the Art Inst."

Finished Composition with Still Life, 1 November, having given it 473 sittings since 8 November 1933, and having reorganized it in the last 50 sittings (journal).

"A talk with Shelly ref 77/96 & self-portrait."& "must rename the 77x96 - what?", 13 "Shelly foned - he has bought the Figures & Still Life.", 26, "overhauling 77/96.", 27 "patching 77/96.", March 1 "painted briefly on patch.", 2 "patching 77/96 - done.", May 27 "I can pay tax on F & Still Life as if capital gain (est. expenses of it).".

1952: April 1, at MOMA "patched 78/97 looked at work - a good gallery for me."

1952: September 16 "Dorothy Miller wants the Composition with Still Life, 77/97. for the Mus. of Mod. Art - write Ansley.", 19 "fone from A & E in Bflo. They will give the 77/97 to the Mus. of Mod. Art NY", 28 letter "from Dorothy Miller Mus. of Mod. Art stating Alfred Barr & Soby are pleased with the donation of the 77/97". 1953, 6 February, "To Mus. Mod. Art, wire from D. Miller) lunch with her there; Barr & she want data. To AWS & EHS,September 17, 1952, Dorothy Miller called asking him if he knew anyone who would donate the piece."I was glad to see it and I know its weaknesses better than anybody." "(Pat bought it back from the Dick estate for $65 -)" Would they consider giving it at the price of the amount he owes them, and thus have a clean slate. MOMA also wants the Ruin & so does the Met. To EHS & AWS, September 20, 1952, Sawyers will give it and Miller, & Barr & Soby are "delighted." To AWS, October 22, 1952, "I never got a decennt title for that piece." on objects in the 78/97. Entirely questions I was willing to go into & did.""The 78/97 has a wall to itself but its too light. < [angle] wrong". November 17 , saw it again. December 21 "78/97 up."

1954: March 16 At MOMA looked with D. Miller in regard to better hanging & lighting. [earlier he displeased with condition, hanging & lighting.] 23 "Mus. of Mod. Art 78/97 much improved!". 1955: March 12 "Talk D. Miller - my reproduction in Praeger book to be B&W - glad of it."

letter fragment: he has some hopes that Shelley and Lee will purchase it.

ED note: Helen Souza posed for the foreground figure.

Provenance

Frances Dickinson
Sheldon Dick
Mr. & Mrs. Ansley W. Sawyer
The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Exhibition History

1938 Art Institute of Chicago: as "Figures and Still Life"
1938 Passedoit Gallery: Paintings by Edwin W. Dickinson, as Figures and Still Life
1939 Rochester Memorial Art Gallery: Paintings by Edwin Dickinson, as "Figures and Still Life"
1940 Wellesley College: Exhibition of Paintings by Edwin W. Dickinson, as "Figures and Still Life"
1943 NAD: Annual, as "Figures and Still Life"
194344 MoMA: as "Figures and Still Life"
1952 MoMA: 15 Americans
1954 MoMA: 25th Anniversary Exhibition
1961 James Graham & Sons: Edwin Dickinson, Retrospective
1965 Whitney: Edwin Dickinson. Major retrospective