8 x 10"
oil on panel
Imagine yourself in coastal Maine, around 1911, one of the privileged few who spends the summer days watching boats races, dressed in fine, elegant clothes - enjoying the prosperous times without a care in the world. Those were the images painted over and again by the American artist Frank Weston Benson. One of those, Summer Day hangs in the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas.
In 1901, Benson resided in Salem, began renting and later purchased Wooster Farm, one of the enormous homes built for the upper class who summered with friends and family and servants on North Haven Island, Maine. Summer Day depicts Benson's two younger daughters although he originally included his oldest daughter, Eleanor, but later removed her - according to several curators - to simplify the composition and open up the horizon of the glimmering light of the sea.
It is speculated Eleanor, who just returned home for the summer after graduating college had been introduced to and espoused to liberal views known as 'parlor pink' - a derogatory term to mean one has leftist or socialist sympathies. Pink meaning a lighter shade of red, thus a lighter form of communism. Mr. Benson was not happy. Removing her from the painting may have been his way of separating Eleanor from his younger, 'untainted' daughters.
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