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A Farmyard

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A Farmyard

Artist: Charlotte B. Coman (American, 1833-1924)

Date: c. 1880
Medium: Watercolor on paper
Overall: 5 3/8 × 8 5/8in. (13.7 × 21.9cm)
Signed: Lower left: 'C.B. Coman'
Credit Line: Gift of Mary Davis Conger in memory of Daniel Bennett Conger
Object number: 77.91
Label Text
In the early 20th century, Charlotte B. Coman was regarded as one of the most important female landscape painters in the United States. This simple design with delicate details is typical of Coman's paintings. Its colors and setting are charming and relaxed. She painted this work in two stages: first Coman blocked out with washes the largest shapes in the composition onto a damp piece of textured paper. Once these were dry, she used opaque gouache to paint the five chickens in the center of the design. Thicker paint was applied to the dry paper to render the bushes around the fence and the rooster on the left side of the path. The white color of the barn is actually exposed paper, a technique called body color.

Coman lived in Iowa as a young woman, but returned to her native Waterville, New York after her husband died in the 1850s. At the age of 40, Coman began painting professionally. She studied in Europe for several years and then returned to America where she was successful and continued working until her 91st year. Critics, Coman claimed, did not bother her because she was almost completely deaf, and they were reluctant to shout caustic remarks into her large ear trumpet. Many of her paintings, including this one, are signed "C.B. Coman." Like other female artists of the late-19th century, Coman used her initials to avoid discrimination from male critics, prospective patrons or exhibition jurors.

Raina Goldbas
2004 Museum Intern

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