Shaker Stand Color Note

Black-and-White Photographs and Color Notes

Although Index artists were encouraged to paint directly from original objects and often did so, this was not always possible. Families understandably were sometimes reluctant to loan heirlooms to a government project or to have an artist in their homes for the extended time required to complete a rendering. In these instances, the artist would observe the objects and make detailed sketches and rough watercolor “color notes” as a memory aide, while an Index photographer created a documentary photograph of the object in situ. The artist would then render the Index drawing in watercolor in a studio.

Left: This Shaker wash stand was a part of the Massachusetts Index project.

Right: Color notes for Shaker Wash Stand with Drawers, Irving I. Smith, active c. 1935, watercolor and graphite on paperboard, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Index of American Design

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