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Spring Dance

ca. 1917 Arthur F. Mathews Born: Markesan, Wisconsin 1860 Died: San Francisco, California 1945 oil on canvas 51 7/8 x 47 5/8 in. (131.7 x 121.0 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Mr. and Mrs. David J. Carlson 1982.126 Smithsonian American Art Museum
2nd Floor, East Wing

Gallery Label

Arthur Mathews led a group of progressive Californians who believed that fine art and design served the public good. After the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, he and his wife, Lucia, also a designer, led the effort to rebuild the city's fine public spaces. The pastoral scene in Spring Dance resembles civic-minded murals created for museums, libraries, and concert halls at the turn of the twentieth century. But Mathews had more on his mind than ancient Greece or Rome. His Arcadia is the luminous landscape of California, and the planes of color and the graceful postures of the dancers show the artist is looking across the Pacific to Japan. The ornate frame is a reproduction of the original. It repeats the colors in the painting, reflecting Mathews's commitment to designing furniture, art, and architecture to create an aesthetic whole.

Exhibition Label, Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2006


Figure group

Landscape - plain

Landscape - season - spring

Performing arts - dance

Performing arts - music - flute


paint - oil

fabric - canvas