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Artist
Walter MacEwen
Title
The Lacemakers
Date
c. 1885 - 1900
Medium
oil on canvas
Dimensions
Canvas: 22 7/8 × 38 3/4 inches (58.1 × 98.4 cm)Framed: 28 13/16 × 44 9/16 × 2 1/4 inches (73.2 × 113.2 × 5.7 cm)
Tags
Painting
Credit Line
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. George A. S. Starke, Jr. and family.
Accession Number
1992.2
A native of Chicago, Walter MacEwen had originally planned to pursue a career in business, but an odd quirk of fate changed the course of his life. When a destitute painter asked MacEwen for a small loan, the artist left his paints and brushes as collateral. He never returned to collect them, and MacEwen began to experiment with the abandoned materials. By 1877 he had departed for Europe, where he studied under Frank Duveneck at the Royal Academy in Munich, and later at the Académie Julian in Paris. By the mid-1880s, MacEwen had established studios in Paris and Holland, spending sixty years in Europe before returning to the United States in 1939 when war broke out. In The Lacemakers, three seated Dutch women are engaged in tatting the edges of a large piece of white fabric. Behind them, a man stands by a window, smoking a pipe and staring at the woman on the left, who seems lost in meditation. Dominated by muted, silvery tones, the palette is enlivened by the bright red bodices of two of the women and the tiny potted flowers on the windowsills.