The Barricade

Media - 1986.6.15 - SAAM-1986.6.15_1 - 53898
Copied Wynn Chamberlain, The Barricade, 1958, egg tempera on fiberboard, 2532 18 in. (63.481.6 cm.), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Sara Roby Foundation, 1986.6.15, © 1958, Wynn Chamberlain

Artwork Details

The Barricade
Not on view
2532 18 in. (63.481.6 cm.)
© 1958, Wynn Chamberlain
Credit Line
Gift of the Sara Roby Foundation
Mediums Description
egg tempera on fiberboard
  • Landscape
  • Architecture Exterior — detail — fence
  • Architecture Exterior — domestic — house
  • Equestrian
Object Number

Artwork Description

Collector Sara Roby believed that the most effective way to encourage the “creation and appreciation of the visual arts” in the United States was to acquire the works of living artists and exhibit them to the public, so she set up a Foundation. The Sara Roby Foundation purchased The Barricade directly from the artist the year it was painted and included it in the first major show of the its collection, held in 1959 at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.

Modern American Realism: The Sara Roby Foundation Collection, 2014
Luce Center Label

In the 1950s, Wynn Chamberlain used egg tempera paint to create highly detailed figural scenes that contrasted sharply with the abstract paintings popular in America at that time. Sara Roby, a patron of twentieth-century art, bought this painting because she believed that Chamberlain was a promising artist who should be encouraged (F. Manola to Lloyd Goodrich, September 24, 1958, SAAM curatorial file). The Sara Roby Foundation later gave this painting to the Smithsonian American Art Museum along with other works from Roby's collection. The medium of egg tempera demands hundreds of thousands of tiny brushstrokes placed closely together. Here, these dashes of paint conjure the effect of wind blowing down the hillside from the house to the ramshackle structures in the foreground. The arrangement of wood and netting evokes a defensive wall behind which a woman stands, as solid as the building behind her.