Artwork of the Week: December 6, 2020
John Whorf (1903 – 1959), The Winter Day, c. 1940, watercolor, 14 11/16 x 21 7/16 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, gift of earl V. Gritton, 1984.
John Whorf was an American painter best known for his luminous watercolors. Born in Winthrop, Massachusetts, Whorf painted hundreds of landscapes capturing the New England he loved in various seasons.
The son of a commercial artists, Whorf was introduced to the arts at a young age and began his own formal training at the age of 14 when he enrolled at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. A year later, he began studying art under the famous Charles W. Hawthorne in the Provincetown artist’s colony. Whorf developed a bold and painterly style and drew as his inspiration the works of John Singer Sargent, Edward Hopper, and Winslow Homer. His use of vibrant layered colors would make him one of the most esteemed watercolorists of the first half of the 20th century.
In this winter scene, people emerge from their New England homes and gather on the main street to clear an abundance newly fallen snow from the shopfronts. The grey sky indicates a solid cloud cover and the potential of more snow. The bright white of the pristine snow clings to brick facades, window sills, and slate shingled roof tops making the overall scene a vision in pastels rather than exemplifying Whorf’s typical bold palette.