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Gallery Text

An admirer of Honoré Daumier’s social caricatures, Mervin Jules satirizes the myopic gaze of a bourgeois connoisseur scrutinizing a painting. The painting-within-a-painting depicts workers demonstrating against the backdrop of a smoke-filled industrial landscape. The subject memorializes the infamous 1937 Little Steel strike, during which police fired on unarmed unionized steelworkers and their sympathizers protesting low wages and poor working conditions. Jules executed this painting during a formative time when he was studying with Thomas Hart Benton at the Art Students League and employed by the Fine Arts Project of the New York Works Progress Administration.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Mervin Jules, American (Baltimore, MD 1912 - 1994 Provincetown, MA)
The Art Lover
Work Type
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
Tempera on composite board
24.4 x 32.1 cm (9 5/8 x 12 5/8 in.)
framed: 38.5 x 45.5 x 7 cm (15 3/16 x 17 15/16 x 2 3/4 in.)
[Hudson D. Walker Gallery, New York, New York], sold; to Mrs. Charles Hutzler. [C.G. Sloan & Company, Inc., New York, New York], sold; to Jack C. Sando, 1985, gift; to Harvard University Art Museums, 2005.

NOTE: Provenance provided by donor.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Donated by Jack Sando '62 and Judith Sando, in appreciation of Professor Seymour Slive
Accession Year
Object Number
Modern and Contemporary Art
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Small caricatural depiction of a bourgeois connoisseur inspecting a painting of a social-protest scene.
Jules was a talented but unheralded social realist painter who studied at the Art Students League with Thomas Hart Benton but who also experimented with cubism, surrealism, and other modern styles. This painting is a strong example of his work, demonstrating his admiration for Daumier and the keen edge of his social satire.
Exhibition History

32Q: 1320 Social Realism, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 10/18/2018

32Q: 1520 Art in Germany Between the Wars (Interwar and Bauhaus), Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 12/15/2018 - 08/05/2019

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Modern and Contemporary Art at