The dreamlike landscape depicts the rocky shores of a lake, perhaps in Michigan or nearby Ontario, locations he often observed for pictorial inspiration

Hughie Lee-Smith

American, 1915-1999

Seascape, 1954

Oil on masonite

19 x 36 inches

Signed and dated lower right

Seascape is an enigmatic work by Hughie Lee-Smith, showcasing his mature style of realism and surrealism that he developed during the early 1950s. The dreamlike landscape depicts the rocky shores of a lake, perhaps in Michigan or nearby Ontario, locations he often observed for pictorial inspiration. On a dilapidated wooden pier, a lone young woman wearing a green dress stands in an elegant, dancer-like pose. Facing the viewer, the woman’s body is half illuminated by the fading sunlight that casts dark shadows throughout the objects in the foreground. Juxtaposed with the darkness are tall, upright sticks with fluttering, red ribbons dancing in the breeze. The cheerful ribbons are visual motifs that Lee-Smith carried throughout his career. The theatrical use of lighting and the darkened background all allude to an unexplained eeriness, a surreal quality that pervades many of Lee-Smith’s paintings.

The dreamlike landscape depicts the rocky shores of a lake, perhaps in Michigan or nearby Ontario, locations he often observed for pictorial inspiration