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Philip Evergood
(American, 1901–1973)
Pittsburgh Family
1944
Oil on canvas, 49" x 38"
Sax Brothers Purchase Fund

The son of an Australian landscape painter, Philip Evergood was sent to England to be educated at Eton and Cambridge, and later at the Slade School of Art. He came to the United States in 1923 to work at the Art Students’ League with the social realist George Luks, a leading member of the Ashcan School, which certainly furthered his growing interest in social and humanistic themes. Evergood’s output never fell into neat categories of style or subject. While his earlier work was constructed primarily around Biblical stories, at different points in time he would be called a social realist, a satirist, an expressionist, and a faux-primitive painter. Regardless of these labels, his work reveals itself as a consistent and sustained study of relationships between people and the environments and actions in which he so closely and thoughtfully observed them.
In Pittsburgh Family, Evergood positions a mother, father and infant child in a tender embrace before the cacophonous steel industry of that city. The artist mirrors the family by placing an image of a bird’s nest with parents feeding and protecting a baby bird on the red-orange framework of a skyscraper at the painting’s center. Today, our first reading of this painting might be that it is an environmental statement, as both humans and animals struggle to survive in a polluted man-made landscape, although its message of family solidarity and compassion is timeless.

Philip Evergood was one of sixteen well-known American artists who participated in a highly successful Summer Guest Artist program at the University of Minnesota Duluth between 1949 and 1970. As a result of this association, the Tweed Museum of Art acquired Evergood’s Pittsburgh Family (1944) and Swimming Lessons (1961) through the Sax Brothers Purchase Fund.

 
 
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