Daily Art Moment: Adolf Dehn

Image description: Christmas Eve, Adolph Dehn, lithograph on cream wove paper, image: 8 5/8 x 11 1/4 inches; sheet: 12 1/2 x 18 1/8 inches. A lithograph in tones of charcoal gray on cream paper shows a decorated Christmas tree in an interior setting before a large window with a snowy outdoor scene. The tree is centered in front of the large picture window and has branches covered with ornaments, garlands, and lights and topped with a bright star. Near the tree’s trunk, branches are sparse but become full and bushy as they radiate outward. Below the tree are a few toys: a truck, a doll, a toy gun and a spinning top, among others. At lower left two small, dark cats play with fallen ornaments. At lower right, another cat naps in a carved chair. Behind the tree is a large window, divided in thirds, revealing a snowy, countryside scene under a dark, star filled sky. A tiny crescent moon appears in the sky at upper left. At center left, a large bare tree displays spiky branches, while at right smaller evergreen trees cluster near distant homes amid snow covered hills. The window scene is framed on either side by filmy sheer curtains and a wide window ledge runs beneath it holding two flower filled vases and left and a potted fern at right.
Adolf Dehn (American, 1895-1968), Christmas Eve, 1931, lithograph on cream wove paper, image: 8 5/8 in x 11 1/4 in; sheet: 12 1/2 in x 18 1/8 in, The Vivian and Gordon Gilkey Graphic Arts Collection. Portland Art Museum, Portland, Oregon, 1997.228.386

Are you ready for the holidays? In this lithograph, American artist Adolf Dehn (1895–1968) offers us a view of Christmas Eve in 1931. There are only a few small presents beneath the tree–perhaps a reference to the Great Depression that was seizing the country–but the little fir is covered with lights and ornaments. Two busy cats pounce on fallen ornaments, while a third naps lazily on a nearby chair. In this quiet scene, framed by a crescent moon and fallen snow, Dehn suggests the comfort of homelife and the joys of the season. We wish you comfort and joy!

Mary Weaver Chapin, Curator of Prints and Drawings

Adolf Dehn (American, 1895–1968), Christmas Eve, 1931. Lithograph on cream wove paper. The Vivian and Gordon Gilkey Graphic Arts Collection, 1997.228.386

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