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The Elephant Who Was Fond of Watermelon

1970s John William ("Uncle Jack") Dey Born: Phoebus, Virginia 1912 Died: Richmond, Virginia 1978 enamel on masonite 18 3/4 x 30 3/4 in. (47.6 x 78.1 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of David L. Davies 1992.37.5 Not currently on view


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In this painting, "Uncle Jack" Dey has created a brightly colored, imaginative scene by taking animals from different parts of the world and placing them in the same setting. Despite the somewhat whimsical title, the unusually large crows circling overhead and the elephant charging at the man give the painting an ominous feeling. Dey traced the crows, rabbits, and deer onto the canvas with a template, which accounts for their precise shape and size. The log cabin in the background and tree stumps in the foreground recall the artist's days as a lumberjack in Maine.

Keywords

Animal - bird

Animal - elephant

Architecture Exterior - domestic - house

Figure male - full length

Landscape - plant - watermelon

painting

folk art

paint - enamel

wood - plywood - masonite

About John William ("Uncle Jack") Dey

Born: Phoebus, Virginia 1912 Died: Richmond, Virginia 1978

More works in the collection by
John William ("Uncle Jack") Dey