May 27, 2009

Study for Transportation Mural (146 of 150)

Study for Transportation Mural (146 of 150)

Date unknown

Part of a set. See all set records

William Sommer

(American, 1867–1949)

Watercolor and gouache with graphite and collaged elements

Norman O. Stone and Ella A. Stone Memorial Fund 1954.153.146



During the early years of the Great Depression, Sommer found himself unemployed and nearly drank himself to death. His financial situation began to improve after he received a series of mural commissions from the Public Works Administration Project (PWAP), established in 1933, and its successor, the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The museum recently discovered a group of works by Sommer that suggest studies for a WPA mural. Several studies feature a squaring grid typically used for transposing a composition to a larger format. The train and ship in this study are made of pieces of newspaper or magazine illustration, cut-and-pasted onto the surface, creating the only known example of a collage by Sommer. The studies in this series are united around the theme of transportation, an appropriate subject for a post office mural. One study features an airplane identified with the letters “U.S. Mail.”

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