17 3/4 x 11 9/16 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Sara Roby Foundation
The title Canticle refers to liturgical hymns taken from the Bible and used in church services. Tobey was a follower of the Baha'i faith, which teaches the oneness of mankind and borrows elements from many different religions. The intricate pattern of light-colored calligraphic symbols that animates the abstract surface of this work came to be known as "white writing," and was inspired by the artist’s study of Arabic and Japanese calligraphy.