Ajax

Media - 2001.95 - SAAM-2001.95_1 - 51056
Copied John Steuart Curry, Ajax, 1936-37, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Peter and Paula Lunder, 2001.95
Free to use

Artwork Details

Title
Ajax
Date
1936-37
Dimensions
36 1448 14 in. (92122.5 cm)
Credit Line
Gift of Peter and Paula Lunder
Mediums
Mediums Description
oil on canvas
Classifications
Keywords
  • Animal — portrait — Ajax
  • Landscape — farm
  • Animal — cattle
Object Number
2001.95

Artwork Description

Curry created this painting of green pastures and fat cattle to reassure Americans worn down by the Dust Bowl years. A prize bull fills the canvas, grazing contentedly in meadows that fall away on all sides. Cowbirds light daintily on his back, feeding on the insects that would otherwise torment him. This image slyly evokes the myth of Ajax, the Trojan hero who went mad and slew all of his army’s cattle, thinking they were his enemies. Curry's Ajax stands between the viewer and the herd, his one wary eye suggesting that the cows might get their revenge.

Exhibition Label, Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2006