Art/ Collection/ Art Object

The Celebration of the Mass

Artist:
Harry W. Watrous (American, San Francisco, California 1857–1940 New York)
Date:
ca. 1930–35
Medium:
Oil on canvas
Dimensions:
40 x 36 in. (101.6 x 91.4 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Gift of the artist, 1935
Accession Number:
35.130
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 774
After extensive studies in Europe, Watrous settled in New York City and made a specialty of historical genre scenes, along with idealized images of women and landscapes. Around 1923 he began to paint still lifes, usually arrangements of the antique decorative objects he eagerly collected. This canvas shows a gilded and polychromed but damaged wood relief sculpture of three cardinals and four priests celebrating Mass before an altar. The relief appears to rest on a thin stone slab supporting other carefully delineated objects—a device that recalls works by earlier American trompe-l’oeil (“deceive the eye”) painters.
Signature: [at lower left]: Watrous
the artist, until 1935
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