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Stoop Sitting in Georgetown

 

Gladys Nelson Smith
United States; 1888-1980
Stoop Sitting in Georgetown, 1925
oil on canvas laid on board; 17 1/8 x 19 1/4 inches
Purchase Fund Acquisition, 2001

The Georgetown University Art Collection is thus proud that its recent first purchase, Stoop Sitting in Georgetown by Gladys Nelson Smith (1888­1980), enriches the University's holdings in both twentieth-century U.S. art and Georgetown history. Stoop Sitting was shown at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, where the artist exhibited in biennials and where she had a solo exhibit in 1984­85; she also studied at the Corcoran School earlier in her career. A Kansas native who graduated from the University of Kansas School of Fine Arts, Gladys Nelson Smith painted Stoop Sitting the year after she arrived in Washington. She had several solo exhibits and won a number of prizes for her work.*

This small, oil-on-canvas Impressionist-style painting depicts three African-American women on the stoop of a gray wood-fronted, two-story row house such as are common throughout Georgetown. It is probably a spring scene - green leaves are beginning to fill the branches, and a bright mid-day blue sky can be seen above the house and around cumulus clouds.

The exact location of the house depicted in this painting is not known. Earlier in the twentieth century, when Georgetown was still a port village, row houses such as this extended closer to the waterfront, where shops, offices, and apartments stand today. These blocks were home to some of the city's African-American communities; Stoop Sitting in Georgetown may be a record of life in one such area.

The Georgetown University Art Collection looks forward to continuing to expand our holdings of nineteenth- and twentieth-century American paintings.

*see Virgil E. McMahan, The Artists of Washington, D.C. 1796­1996 (Washington: The Artists of Washington, 1995), pp. 201­02.