Music Hall, 1930
Oil on canvas
16 x 18 inches
Signed lower right
Stuart Davis was born in Philadelphia to parents well-acquainted with the art world. Through his family, Davis was exposed to important artists of the time, such as John Sloan, William Glackens, George Luks, and Edward Shinn. Davis’s natural artistic ability and the fact that his parents encouraged his career as an artist were factors that enabled him to become an important figure in the early twentieth century New York City art scene.
Davis’s first trip to Europe, Paris specifically, had lasting influence on his work. He traveled there for the first time in the summer of 1928, and spent a year filling a notebook with drawings, then making a series of paintings and prints based on those on-site sketches. Music Hall was produced after Davis returned to New York, and is a combination of two of Davis’s drawings from his “Sketchbook 7.” The painting, with Davis’s signature palette of pastel blues and pinks, depicts a typical view of Paris near the Montparnasse neighborhood where Davis was living. The scene consists of a characteristic French café on the right-hand side, with outdoor seating, a tabac advertisement, and the distinctive red lozenge-shaped sign. At the center of the composition is the historic music hall Bobino, located at 20 rue de la Gaîté, near the Théâtre Montparnasse and in close proximity to Davis’s studio. This painting is Davis’s only representation of the popular music venue that hosted legendary talents such as Josephine Baker.