Dowager in a Wheelchair

  • Philip Evergood, Dowager in a Wheelchair, 1952, oil on fiberboard, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Sara Roby Foundation, 1986.6.90

Exhibition Label
Evergood’s art reflected a deep commitment to social equality and sympathy for human frailty. Recollecting the genesis of Dowager in a Wheelchair, he wrote, “Once I saw a tragic old lady being wheeled on Madison Avenue. She was alive in spirit but her body was only half functioning. She wanted still to be young. A young, gentle, fascinatingly fresh companion was wheeling her. As I passed, spring was in the air, a delicate whiff of lilac perfume mixed with a faint background of crushed rose petals reached my nostril & then my brain. I was disturbed. I stopped when they’d passed and followed their progress through the crowds with my eyes. Taxis & cars were too noisy. I lost sight of them in a few moments. I went sadly on my way with a vivid memory which lingered on. I consider the painting to be one of the very best I ever painted.”


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

Philip Evergood was a political radical who throughout his career sympathized with this country's less privileged citizens. But his sympathy also extended to those whose wealth could not shield them from the realities of life. In this painting, a dowager in an improbable hat and veil, her shrunken upper body at odds with swollen legs and ankles, gamely takes her daily promenade, even though a younger woman must wheel her around. The ravaged grande dame represents "a tragic old lady being wheeled on Madison Avenue" who, Evergood remembered, was "alive in spirit" even as her body betrayed her.

Luce Object Quote
"Once I saw a tragic old lady being wheeled on Madison Avenue. She was alive in spirit but her body was only half functioning. She still wanted to be young. A young, gentle, fascinatingly fresh companion was wheeling her. As I passed, spring was in the air, a delicate whiff of lilac perfume mixed with a faint background of crushed rose petals reached my nostrils & then my brain. I was disturbed . . . I went sadly on my way with a vivid memory which lingered on. I consider the painting to be one of the best I ever painted." Evergood, quoted in Mecklenburg, Modern American Realism: The Sara Roby Foundation Collection, 1998
Title
Dowager in a Wheelchair
Artist
Date
1952
On View
Not on view.
Dimensions
47 7/8 x 36 in. (121.5 x 91.4 cm.)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Gift of the Sara Roby Foundation

Mediums
Mediums Description
oil on fiberboard
Classifications
Keywords
  • Cityscape
  • Figure group – female
  • State of being – handicapped
Object Number
1986.6.90
Palette
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI
Audio

Dowager in a Wheelchair
1952, oil on fiberboard

PHILIP EVERGOOD
Born: New York, New York 1901– Died: Bridgewater, Connecticut 1973

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