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Summer Day can be seen as Benson’s affectionate comparison of his young daughters’ radiance and beauty to that of nature itself, an assertion of their essential equivalence to summer’s warmth, light, and air. The sunny outdoor scene depicts eighteen-year-old Elisabeth and thirteen-year-old Sylvia casting their eyes toward the high horizon line, where the boundary between sea and sky nearly dissolves. The billowing sails on and just below the horizon reinforce a sense of gentle movement, as do the girls’ cascading gowns, loosely arranged hair, and decorative ribbons, all of which are enveloped by soft ocean breezes. Benson’s broken brushwork appears lightly but quickly stroked, and his high-keyed palette of whites and white-inflected blues glinting off the summer sea is a ravishing display of Impressionist technique perfectly tuned to his ephemeral, sun-shot subject.

Details

  • Title: Summer Day
  • Creator: Frank Weston Benson
  • Date Created: 1911
  • Physical Dimensions: 36 1/8 × 32 1/8 in. (91.8 × 81.6 cm)
  • Subject Keywords: figures, adolescents, girls, women, sisters, sailboats
  • Rights: Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas.
  • Medium: Oil on canvas

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