At the End of the Porch

John Sharman (American, 1879-1971)

Currently on View in K208
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  • This composition is an intricate network of trellis, railing, and awning. Upon this framework Sharman lavished broad strokes of brilliant color, applied with the sensitivity to light and shade that he acquired from the Impressionist practice of painting outdoors. This technique created a portrait of summer sun that casts deep shadows on the porch and transforms vines into a wave of white blossoms.
  • Although not well known today, Sharman received many excellent reviews in his day, especially in his native Boston. A critic for the Boston Transcript described At the End of the Porch as “a beautiful, luminous and joyous picture of a place where one would like to be.”
Forgotten American Impressionist

John Sharman’s biography reads like the ideal formula for establishing the American artist of repute: training under Frank Benson and Edmund Tarbell at Boston’s Museum School, a steady exhibition schedule, and favorable reviews of his mature work. A 1922 article discussing an exhibition of Sharman’s paintings states, “Not in a long time has such a stimulating one-man show been seen in Boston as the present exhibition of John Sharman.” Another article in the Boston Transcript praised At the End of the Porch as “a beautiful, luminous and joyous picture of a place where one would like to be. It represents a glassed-in porch, in the summer, and a lady sitting at her work; through the windows may be seen masses of shrubbery and white blossoms. An admirable canvas, it has the quality of reserve, but that does not prevent it from conveying with singular aptitude a most artistic impression of a lovely scene.” Despite the numerous articles of praise written about Sharman, not a word about this artist or his work appears in texts on American painting, even those that specialize in artists with an impressionistic style.

In At the End of the Porch, Sharman used the intricate network of trellis, railing, and awning to define space and construct a well-ordered composition. Upon his framework, he has lavished broad strokes of brilliant color, applied with sensitivity to light and shade that Sharman acquired from regular painting out-of-doors (en plein air). The summer sun burns the striped awning with salmon-tinted hues, casts deep shadows on the silent porch, and bleaches vines into a wave of white blossoms.

The IMA library’s vertical files contain a folder on Sharman that includes many of the articles written about him during his lifetime. Unfortunately, few texts were published posthumously that discuss the artist or his work.

Judge Alex Simpson Jr. 1919; Rosenbach Galleries Philadelphia, Pennsylvania...Mr. and Mrs. John G. Rauch Sr., Indianapolis, Indiana, after 1925; purchased by the Indianapolis Museum of Art in 1981.

Object Information

artist
John Sharman (American, 1879-1971)
creation date
about 1918
materials
oil on canvas
dimensions
36 x 34-1/4 in.
44-1/8 x 41-1/2 in. (framed)
accession number
81.6
credit line
James E. Roberts Fund
copyright
© John Sharman
collection
American Painting and Sculpture to 1945
colors

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