After Sir Christopher Wren

Charles Demuth (American, Lancaster, Pennsylvania 1883–1935 Lancaster, Pennsylvania)

Watercolor, gouache, and graphite on cardboard
H. 24, W. 20 inches (60.5 x 51 cm.)
Credit Line:
Bequest of Scofield Thayer, 1982
Accession Number:
  • Description

    Demuth spent several summers in Provincetown, Massachusetts, located at the tip of Cape Cod and a popular summer destination for artists and writers in the early twentieth century. He painted a number of Provincetown landmarks, including this view of the Center Methodist Episcopal Church. In this watercolor, the church's prominent steeple and spire rise above the surrounding residential architecture. Built in 1860, the church had been designed in a variant of the English Baroque style, which is often associated with the architect Christopher Wren (1632-1723). Certain elements of Demuth's composition are indebted to his knowledge of Cubism and Futurism. Repeated, diagonal "lines of force" break the area of the sky into fragments, and the houses in the foreground seem crystallized from multiple planes; however, the overall effect is legible and cohesive. In demonstrating that he could apply his Precisionist style to more traditional subjects as well as modern industrial ones, Demuth remained a painter of the American scene.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Signature: Signed and dated (lower left): C. Demuth 1920 Titled (lower right): Provincetown, Mass

  • Exhibition History

    "Charles Demuth," The Metropolitan Museum of Art (LAW, North Mezzanine), May 9 - August 31, 2003

  • References

    “The World of Art.” New York Times, December 19, 1920, p. BR11 (titled New England), illustrated.

    Dennis, James M. Renegade Regionalists: The Modern Independence of Grant Wood, Thomas Hart Benton, and John Steuart Curry. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1998, mentioned in text pp. 203-204; illustrated (b&w) fig. 122 p. 207

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History