CHARLES DEMUTH (1883–1935)
Watercolor and pencil on paper, 18 x 12 in.
Executed about 1925
EXHIBITED: William Penn Memorial Museum, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, September 24–November 6, 1966, Charles Demuth of Lancaster, no. 98 // Demuth Museum, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, May 31–September 7, 2013, Charles Demuth: Gardens and More
EX COLL.: the artist; (possibly) by descent to his mother, Augusta Demuth, Lancaster, Pennsylvania; to estate of Augusta Demuth; Robert Locher, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, by 1943; Richard Weyland, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, 1956; to his estate; to sale, Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York, October 16, 1957, lot 20; Dr. Irving Levitt, Detroit, Michigan; [Kraushaar Galleries, New York]; to Louise and Henry Loeb, New York
With more formal cohesion and color contrast than Demuth’s flower watercolors of 1919, but without the saturated colors and formal reduction of his work from the late 1920s, Nosegay fits well with the group of watercolors painted in 1925. Demuth inventively left certain elements of the composition uncolored, creating attractive passages of negative space in the center of the image, as well as elegant pencil outlines of flowers, stems, and leaves around its edges. Instead of broadly applying a dark wash to the background in order to make the flowers stand out, as he had done in earlier watercolors, Demuth relied on the contrast between the complementary colors of the purple and yellow blossoms to structure the image. This contrast also allowed him to arrange the flowers naturally, which adds to the freshness conveyed by his skilled use of the watercolor medium.