Arthur Bowen Davies (1862–1928), Clouds Posted on July 21st, 2014 by

CloudsArthur Bowen Davies (1862–1928)
Clouds, 1919
Lithograph on paper, 9 3⁄4 x 13 inches
Hillstrom Museum of Art purchase with endowment acquisition funds

Clouds is one of over seventy lithographs Davies made between 1919 and 1920. He returned to lithography after some earlier experiments in it and an exhibition at New York’s Keppel Galleries in 1893. He was apparently attracted to the medium’s spontaneity and freshness. Like many of his works, Clouds features the female figure, here posed and formed to suggest the alternatively wispy or substantial quality of clouds. A variant title sometimes given to the print is Hamadryads Under the Trees (referencing a hamadryad, a wood nymph whose life span is tied to the life of the specific tree of which she is the spirit). This more specific, literal interpretation would seem to miss the point of Davies’s image, and it is noteworthy that Davies himself has inscribed “Clouds” as the title in the lower left corner of the print. Both the print and the oil Figure Study by the artist in the Hillstrom Collection call to mind the characterization made of Davies in 1924 by Duncan Phillips (1886–1966), art collector and founder of the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., who described the artist as a “designer of dreams.”

Text from the catalogue for the exhibition The Eight, The Ashcan School, and The American Scene in the Hillstrom Collection, presented in the Hillstrom Museum of Art February 25 through April 21, 2013.


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