Kenneth Hayes Miller (1876–1952), Leaving the Shop

Posted on July 22nd, 2014 by

Leaving the ShopKenneth Hayes Miller (1876–1952)
Leaving the Shop, 1929
Etching on paper, 8 x 9 7⁄8 inches
Gift of Dr. Delphine Hedtke, in recognition of the 50th anniversary of her graduation from Gustavus Adolphus College

Miller taught at New York City’s Art Students League for many years, and was very influential as a teacher. His pupils included George Bellows (1882–1925), Edward Hopper (1882–1967), Peggy Bacon (1895–1987), Reginald Marsh (1898–1954), Wanda Gág (1893–1946), Isabel Bishop (1902–1988), and Aaron Bohrod (1907–1992), all represented in this exhibition. Miller was the leader of the informal 14th Street School of painting, which depicted the New Yorkers of that bustling and somewhat decayed area. In 1923, he took a studio on 14th Street close to Union Square in lower Manhattan. This region had been quite upscale in the late nineteenth century, but as the more affluent continually turned their attention further uptown, it became less so. It remained a popular shopping district that included department stores, such as Klein’s, that catered to the middle class inhabitants of the area. A primary subject for Miller was the sociology of female shoppers, as seen in this print. In it, two fashionably dressed women exit a store whose windows display the latest styles. The etching is one of the most appealing of a number of prints of female shoppers created by Miller. The artist took an unsentimental approach to his subject matter, neither idealizing nor satirizing the women he portrayed. He was interested in depicting the modern world, but in a manner that hearkened back to the Old Masters of the Renaissance and Baroque eras (which he had studied during several years abroad), and his use of linear perspective to define the space, plus his emphasis on solid, three-dimensional forms, indicates this, while the “Rubensesque” forms of the women depicted show the artist’s specific interest in the works of the Baroque master Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640).

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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