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Eric Sloane


Gallery Database:

Eric Sloane (1905-1985). "Raised Barn, Cornwall," oil on masonite, 23 x 31, signed. Original barnboard frame.


Curator's Comments: 

Eric Sloane was born Everard Jean Hinrichs in New York City on February 27, 1905. He  was as American as his painter name, which took the eric out of the center of the very name of our nation--as in America. His last name came from reverence for his first great master, John Sloan, the colleague of Henri and Glackens. His focus was as fundamental as his choice of name: He painted heaven and earth only. Sloane was also connected to the aviation pioneers flying out of Roosevelt Field, Long Island. Sloane sold one of his earliest paintings to Amelia Earhardt, the aviatrix, and ended his career with the giant-size mural of the sky on the wall of the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum. His other love was the farmland of New England and its barns, which he also celebrated in painting after painting. And Sloane was the author of numerous books on barns and their construction. His private collection of early American hand tools is now in the Sloane Stanley Museum in Connecticut.


The Artist


An Age of Barns


Sloane, after a falling out with his family, ran away at age fourteen to become an itinerant sign painter. He worked his way across America, painting signs on barns, buildings and stores, all the time gathering images of an ever expanding nation. One of his most notable stays was with the Taos Pueblo Indian Tribe, just north of Santa Fe, New Mexico. In Taos itself, Sloane experienced life in a true artist's colony, working among painters such as Leon Gaspard and the members of Taos Society of Artists. He added his own footnote to their rich history by introducing them to his pioneer method of painting on Masonite. Much later, in  1975, Sloane built a home in La Tierra near Santa Fe, New Mexico, called "Las Nuves" (The Clouds) where he continued to work in his last years.

Sloane studied at the Art Students League in New York, where he met his mentor. He also logged important time at Yale School of Fine and Applied Art in the early thirties. Indeed, it was later, while living at the Yale Club in New York during the Depression that he gave our painting to the owner of a nearby sandwich shop (delicatessen) to settle his bill. It was then passed on in one family until our acquisition. By then Sloane had fallen in love with the rural agrarian architecture of his beloved New England. Making the barn one of his two central symbols, along with the clouds, which are present here too. As we see the barn, it becomes a dark place of fruition in contrast to the powerful sky-god clouds. It is the realm of Proserpine, even to its stored pumpkins and its curved entryway. Below are the dark, close and warm horse stalls, places of passage. Technically Sloane labeled this style of construction in his An Age of Barns, a raised barn, and it is similar to an illustration in that work.

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