Jerome Myers: Shrine Of Saint's Day

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As 1908 began, Myers could look around the Macbeth Galleries with pride and satisfaction at the twenty-five canvases and a group of his drawings displayed prominently on the walls. The catalog for Jerome’s inaugural solo show survives /affording an idea of the rich and varied panoply of East Side life Myers recorded as he rambled throughout the district. The title of several paintings are readily recognizable: Christmas Dinner, The Carousel, The End of the Walk, The Mission Tent, A Windy Corner, Pursuit of Pleasure, and A North River Recreation Pier. Others, such as An Italian Saint’s Day, may be new works or their titles have been loosely recorded and perhaps reflect well-known images such as Shrine of Saint Rocco. Still others, such as …show more content…

Myers has not consummate brush mastery. He paints with a restricted palette and usually in low harmonies...With Myers it is common humanity that is the shibboleth. He is not a sentimentalist. He is not a Socialist-at least his pictures are not an excuse for thrilling preachments in which the rich are vile, the poor virtuous. Nevertheless, brush strokes go deep. They scratch our thin optimism when he brings us the treasures of the humble: their little joys-so joyous in their constant misery-so appalling-their daily ways, goings and comings. And he has beaten out a style of his own to render these surfaces, a style that is still and somber-he can represent absolute repose in a curiously suggestive manner. He paints dark pictures-there are only three or four light ones in this exhibition; and he has a feeling for night, for the mystery and fear of strange corners. Rembrandtesque would have been the epithet applied to some of these canvasses by the critics of an earlier generation. With all their apparent absence of variety they are, when closely studied, each after its style very different. Many problems of atmosphere, clear and obscure and translucent, Myers has set himself to solve. Sometimes the effect of a street scene is that of a flat Pompeian mural decoration. Airless, the sharp, snipped silhouettes of the children assume hieratic attitudes, yet they are vivaciously alive; it is not …show more content…

Taken all together, Jerome’s January 1908 solo show made quite an impact, but those impressions failed to generate any sales. Perhaps it was the “lack of prettiness” in his East Side subject matter, as the Brooklyn Daily Eagle noted, that failed to attract the wealthy clientele who typically purchased art to hang on the walls of their drawing rooms and private galleries. But a more concrete reason was certainly the lingering economic effect of the Financial Panic of October and November 1907 that simply stripped many formerly well-heeled buyers of the financial wherewithal to purchase art. With buyers hedging their bets, the novel and pedestrian subjects Myers depicted on his canvases would have seemed too risky an investment to chance. The drawn-out decision by the Metropolitan Museum of Art over the purchase of Myers’ Mission Tent seems to bear this out, for the museum first examined the painting and related preparatory sketches in 1908 concurrent with Myers’ solo exhibition. On January twenty second they returned the drawings to the artist with a succinct note, “very important Mission Tent drawings.” Yet it would be another four years before they moved to acquire the

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