Larger Type
Smaller Type

Search Collections

Natural Power

1934 Raymond White Skolfield Born: Portland, Maine 1909 Died: Freeport, Maine 1996 oil on canvas 34 1/8 x 36 1/8 in. (86.8 x 91.8 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Transfer from the U.S. Department of Labor 1964.1.47 Not currently on view

Exhibition Label

From wood fires to hydroelectricity, Raymond Skolfield's painting tells how power shaped the town of Proctor, Vermont. Sutherland Falls, roaring down the middle of this snowy image, is also central to the town where the major industry is a large marble quarry powered by the falls. Part of the marble quarry complex is visible at the top of this painting. A standpipe for the quarry stands near the creek, colorfully enclosed by blue siding with red trim. Originally, a water-powered mill used belts to drive saws and other heavy equipment for the quarry. In 1905 the marble company replaced the mill with a hydroelectric plant, seen at the right in Skolfield’s painting. A large pipe running parallel to the waterfall feeds surging water into the plant, which powers the quarry and the town. This power helped to carve out snowy white blocks for such projects as the Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C., under construction in 1934. But as Skolfield points out in his painting, more old-fashioned, natural sources of power persisted as well. A man in the foreground uses muscle power to load his sled with logs he will split and burn in his fireplace to keep the winter cold at bay.

1934: A New Deal for Artists exhibition label


Allegory - element - energy

Architecture - industry - factory

Figure male

Figure(s) in exterior - rural

Landscape - season - winter

Landscape - waterfall

Occupation - industry - lumber

New Deal - Public Works of Art Project - New York City


paint - oil

fabric - canvas

About Raymond White Skolfield

Born: Portland, Maine 1909 Died: Freeport, Maine 1996

More works in the collection by
Raymond White Skolfield