Despite its bizarre colors and fantastical atmosphere, Evergood's painting was inspired by a scene he saw after the Great New England Hurricane of September 1938. Among blown-down trees and fallen debris, he recalled, “was a beautiful, austere old lady—beautiful because she was so ramrod straight—sitting in her chair . . . unperturbed . . . by all that turmoil of nature.” Evergood denied any subtext, but the painting seems to offer satirical commentary on the colonial revival era, with its longing for “pioneer” times. Here we see the crumbling foundations of that nostalgia, which was often rooted in racism, ethnocentrism, and xenophobia.


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