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In the Summerhouse

1958 George Tooker Born: New York, New York 1920 Died: Hartland, Vermont 2011 egg tempera on fiberboard 24 x 24 in. (61.0 x 61.8 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of the Sara Roby Foundation 1986.6.100 Not currently on view

Luce Center Quote

“I am after painting reality impressed on the mind so hard that it returns as a dream, but I am not after painting dreams as such, or fantasy.” Tooker, quoted in Rodman, Conversations with Artists, 1957

Exhibition Label

Like his friends Paul Cadmus and Bernard Perlin, Tooker painted in egg tempura. In the Summerhouse shows two young women surrounded by a lattice framework. The Japanese lanterns they hold cast a warm light on their arms and faces. The nocturnal scene is gentle, the serene enclosure a refuge from the night.

Modern American Realism: The Sara Roby Foundation Collection, 2014

Luce Center Label

In the Summerhouse was inspired by George Tooker’s memories of family celebrations on the Fourth of July. In the evening, all of the children were given bright Japanese lanterns to hang around the garden, and Tooker described the effect as “very magical.” Here, the geometric shapes in the wooden trellis contrast with the soft curves of the paper lights and the figures. The subdued light and warm colors create an intimate, dreamlike scene, as the figures choose where to place their glowing lanterns. (Garver, George Tooker, 1985)


Architecture Interior - domestic - house

Figure group - female

Landscape - season - summer

Object - furniture - lamp


paint - tempera


About George Tooker

Born: New York, New York 1920 Died: Hartland, Vermont 2011

More works in the collection by
George Tooker

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