Still Life, Rotting Squash

Wellfleet, MA
Oil on canvas
30 x 36 in. (76.2 x 91.4 cm)
Signed, dated on lower right: "E W Dickinson / 1942"
John Halperin
Photo: Harlee Little


Notes: Painted in Wellfleet, MA, in 43 sittings; beginning on 15 November, continued 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, December 1, 2, (second drape), 3, 8, 9, 10, 16, 17, 18, 20, 21, 26, 29. 1942, February 10, 15, 16, 17, 25 (journal). To Tibi, November 30, 1941: "The piece I am doing is a 30 x 36 still life of a red & a Hubbard squash with a detail photograph from the 'Burial of the Duke [sic] of Orgaz' by El Greco, drapery etc - (Bertha's brocade satin.)." Bertha Dickinson White, was their father's youngest sister. There are also two artificial roses, one pink and one yellow; and a French naval striped shirt coiled in a fossiliferous spiral. In the COH pp 153-157, he said: ". . . the nature of the objects didn't make any difference, and any surrealism (the undershirt and the print of El Greco aare not expectable together) would be accidental . . . They were things that were at hand which were the right size, and their patina was different-- . . . and the undershirt offers, as drapery does to the painter, the wonderful chance to have something that will hold still take almost any shape he wants. . . . The squash, as it began to rot, I followed it around. Its color changed a great deal, and it improved, because things that are putrid are usually much more interesting in color, and perhaps in surface, in texture, than things that are in a good state of what we consider health. . . . it got more beautiful as it got older."

ED's private name for this painting was "The Bow" as the striped shirt reminded him of a man bowing, ( journal January 17, 1947, February 11, 1953 and FD memory). This format of an oval in a rectangle he used only this once.


Dr. Alexander Halperin
John Halperin

Exhibition History

1942 Chatham: Work by Edwin Dickinson, as "Still Life"
1942 Passedoit Gallery: Paintings, Edwin Dickinson, as "Still Life"
1947 Institute of Modern Art: as "Still Life"
1947 Kenneth Taylor Galleries: Edwin Dickinson, Paintings
1949 NAD I: Annual, as "Still Life"
1956 National Institute of Arts & Letters: Exhibition of Work by Newly Elected Members, Recipients of Honors, and Childe Hassam Fund Purchases
1965 Whitney: Edwin Dickinson. Major retrospective, as "Still Life"

Additional Images