Unicorns (Legend—Sea Calm)

Arthur B. Davies American

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 774

This is probably Davies’s most famous work. It recalls certain decorative paintings by Albert Pinkham Ryder as well as masterpieces of the early Italian Renaissance, Symbolist murals by Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, and even Chinese handscroll paintings. The standard mythological notion about unicorns—that they will approach only virgins—does not seem central to the painting, whose theme registers as simply poetic and allusive. Davies showed his works with those of the Ashcan School in the landmark 1908 exhibition of the Eight at New York’s Macbeth Galleries.

Unicorns (Legend—Sea Calm), Arthur B. Davies (American, Utica, New York 1862–1928 Florence), Oil on canvas, American

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