Gouache and watercolor on paper
3½ x 4½ inches
Signed lower center and dated on the lower margin
Dove was among the first 20th-century American artists to produce purely abstract, or nonobjective, paintings—a practice he continued throughout his career. He grew up in a conventional upper-middle-class family in upstate New York. He studied law to please his father but became increasingly interested in art. After graduating in 1903 Dove became a commercial illustrator in New York, married, and painted in his spare time. In 1907 he traveled to Paris, where he met Alfred Henry Maurer, who was to be a dear friend for the remainder of his life and through whom Dove gained entry to art circles that included Matisse, Picasso, and Cézanne. Upon his return to New York, he met influential photographer and gallerist Alfred Stieglitz and began exhibiting at Stieglitz’s avant-garde gallery, 291.
Many of Dove’s abstractions display the influence of Asian art and were derived from landscape and organic subjects. He generally made initial watercolor sketches outdoors and finished his oil paintings in the studio later. His free use of color and calligraphic elements resulted in meticulous works of striking energy and force.