Arthur Dove (American, 1880-1946). Untitled (#4 in a Portfolio of 24 sketches), 1942. Mixed medium and watercolor; 5 x 7 in. (12.7 x 17.8 cm) (sheet). Inscribed at lower left: 120. Dated at lower center: 7.30.42. Ex coll.: with the artist, until 1946; to the artist’s son, William C. Dove, until 1989. Gift of William C. Dove, 1989.61.4.

Arthur Dove Sketches

Arthur Dove (Born in Canandaigua, New York, 1880; Died in Centerport, New York 1946)

The final years of Dove’s life were spent in Centerport, Long Island, where he and his wife moved in 1938. Despite his declining health, these were productive years for the artist. At this time he painted several hundred small-scale, mixed-media and watercolor “Sketches,” as he called them, of an intimate size and vision. This miniature format not only allowed the artist to be exceedingly productive, despite his failing health, but it also resulted in bold, compact and very creative works. Several of these sketches were transferred to large canvases, while many others served as independent works in and of themselves.

The sketches shown here represent the variety of imagery and technique that the artist engaged in for these experimental works. The small scale that he adhered to challenged him to distill his lifelong study of the nature of abstraction into a dense, concentrated form. The sketches served as a visual diary. On them Dove recorded his experiments with different media, including watercolor, oil paint, wax emulsion and egg yolk. He also used a wide variety of intense color combinations and often inscribed the sketches with the date of execution, as well as abbreviated references to the colors he used.

Dove’s watercolor sketches are remarkably varied in design and function. Of the works presented here, only one, Untitled #1, dated 27 August 1942, is known to have been used as the basis for a large oil painting, Flight, 1943 (The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.).

From Our Collection

1594, Caravaggio 1731, Canaletto 1749, Panini 1773, Wright

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