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July 29, 2021

Acquisition: Arthur Wesley Dow

Arthur Wesley Dow, "Marsh Creek"

Arthur Wesley Dow
Marsh Creek
, c. 1914
color woodcut on laid paper
sheet: 11.43 x 17.78 cm (4 1/2 x 7 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington
Ailsa Mellon Bruce Fund

Best known for his innovative color woodcuts, Arthur Wesley Dow (1857–1922) was an accomplished painter, printmaker, and photographer and a central figure in the American arts and crafts movement. His influential manual Composition (first published in 1899) expounded his artistic theory based on Japanese design principles and significantly altered the development of art instruction in the United States. Among the most notable modernists who were inspired by Dow’s teachings are Georgia O’Keeffe (1887–1986) and Max Weber (1881–1961). The National Gallery of Art has acquired Marsh Creek (c. 1914)—its first color woodcut by Dow—which captures the experience of a coastal landscape at dusk. This print exemplifies the artist’s simplification of forms using a flat, decorative approach and focusing on the essential elements of line, color, and tone and the harmonious arrangement of light and dark areas within a composition. Marsh Creek joins two photographs by Dow already in the collection.

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