- 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
- 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
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