Jerome Myers - A Story of Two Paintings

A Story of Two Paintings

In 1934 the Metropolitan Museum of Art purchased the painting "Street Group," from the Municipal Art Exhibition in Rockefeller Center. The Herald Tribune said in reporting the story that "the painting by Mr. Myers is of a group of women standing talking in a somber street, with children playing about them. Mr. Myers considers it typical of his work, and says it is the sort of scene he most enjoys to paint. 'Old streets and old houses and the people who live in them,' he explained."

"I am trying to catch the New York that is passing," he said. "I painted that down on Delancey Street seven or eight years ago and already the scene has changed in spirit. I want to get it before it is gone."

Twenty two years earlier, in 1912, a major event had taken place in Jerome Myers' life. The occasion was when the Metropolitan Museum of Art first decided to purchase a painting of his titled "The Mission Tent." Here is a quote from the Metropolitan Museum Bulletin in June 1913 talking about their purchase: "Jerome Myers for several years has been showing New Yorkers the artistic possibilities of what is perhaps the unique part of the city's scenes. He has discovered these subjects for himself and treats them in his own way. It is never the exciting moments of street life that move him, only the daily happenings, the usual things that all may see. Boys and girls playing in the square, the crowd at a recreation pier, an organ-grinder followed by a troop of dancing children, old people whom the night freshness lures to the park-bench or the wharf, a religious festival in Little Italy—these are his favorite themes and he renders them with loving sincerity and a profound appreciation of their significance."

Not only was the sale to the Metropolitan a great honor then, but it also provided him with enough money to move his family from their small studio into a studio in the "new" Carnegie Hall. Over the years, with all the moving around to various studios, he always came back to Carnegie as his real home and in 1940 it was where he passed away with his friends around him. He could not have been in a more perfect place.

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