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The Blue Thread

1984 Will Barnet Born: Beverly, Massachusetts 1911 Died: New York, New York 2012 oil on canvas 38 3/8 x 72 3/8 in. (97.4 x 83.9 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Frank K. Ribelin and museum purchase through the Luisita L. and Franz H. Denghausen Endowment 1996.72 Smithsonian American Art Museum
Luce Foundation Center, 4th Floor, 44A

Luce Center Label

Will Barnet has painted several images of mothers and children that capture intimate scenes of family life. In The Blue Thread, the verticals and horizontals of the windows, table, and chair divide the painting into neat rectangles, and Barnet positioned his daughter, her son, and the family cat so that they evoke figures from an Egyptian wall painting. The subdued tones and stylized poses transform a fleeting moment in his household into an image that feels timeless.


Animal - cat

Architecture Interior - detail - window

Figure group - female and child

Object - toy

Occupation - domestic - sewing

Recreation - leisure - home life


paint - oil

fabric - canvas