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Dowager in a Wheelchair

1952 Philip Evergood Born: New York, New York 1901 Died: Bridgewater, Connecticut 1973 oil on fiberboard 47 7/8 x 36 in. (121.5 x 91.4 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of the Sara Roby Foundation 1986.6.90 Not currently on view

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Dowager in a Wheelchair
from American Art staff

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Dowager in a Wheelchair

Luce Center 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

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.



Figure group - female

Figure(s) in exterior - urban

State of being - handicapped


paint - oil