Charles Demuth American, 1883-1935


“John Marin and I drew our inspiration from the same sources. He brought his up in buckets and spilled much along the way. I dipped mine out with a teaspoon but I never spilled a drop.”

Charles Demuth

Lancaster-native Charles Demuth is considered a master of the American watercolor tradition, putting him in the company of Winslow Homer, John Marin and Georgia O’Keeffe. He studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts under William Merritt Chase and Thomas Anshutz, and in his mid-teens, travelled to Paris where he viewed the work of Cézanne and the Fauves. Demuth’s signature style included delicately rendered forms often outlined in pencil, and sheer washes of brilliant color that used the whiteness of bare paper to full advantage. He found his subjects in floral and fruit arrangements around his Pennsylvania family home, and in some masterful examples captured the subtlety of a flower’s fading beauty. Despite his rural background, Demuth was also thoroughly cosmopolitan. He participated in New York’s Greenwich Village scene and painted the circus acts and vaudeville performers at the bohemian spots he frequented. In the post-war years, Demuth worked in a Precisionist mode, applying a Cubist vocabulary to geometric compositions of colonial-style churches and modern factories around Lancaster.