Hill in the Canyon
Hill in the Canyon
Oil on linen
16 1/8 x 20 1/8 inches
Wichita Art Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Lee Phillips, Jr.
Currently on Display
About the Artwork
John Sloan was a well-established painter of the urban American scene when he made his first trip to Santa Fe in 1919. Sloan’s background really fitted him for the city. He had been a newspaper illustrator and commercial designer, first in Philadelphia and then in New York City, so that he was accustomed to observations of the passing parade of life on the big city streets. Then when he met Robert Henri, the teacher-artist responsible for his decision to become a painter, Sloan’s interest in urban genre was reinforced by Henri’s artistic tradition and to the portrayal of contemporary life.
Yet, however sympathetic he was to the milieu of urban America, Sloan was among those many travelers to Santa Fe to be seduced by the history, the beauty and the isolation of the place. He took this first trip along with his wife Dolly, a painter friend Randall Davey and his wife Florence to the Southwest as a lark. What began as a holiday later turned into a lifetime retreat. Sloan explained:
“By 1919 Davey was getting restless and suggested that we take a long automobile trip that summer. The next thing I knew we were involved in the purchase of an old 1912 chain-drive Simplex racing car, buying fancy camping equipment from Abercrombie and Fitch, and setting out for New Mexico, which Henri had recommended as the best climate in the world. It took us six weeks to reach Santa Fe: muddy roads, the difficulty of getting our wives out of comfortable hotel suites (we camped out only two nights in spite of the tents and bathtubs and stoves); and the imminence of Prohibition – these matters delayed us. The special tires we needed for the Simplex finally wore out when we reached Watrous, New Mexico, so we shipped the car to Santa Fe by freight and came the rest of the way by train. Sheldon Parsons took us up Canyon Road in his buckboard, and that day we decided that we loved this place. Randall bought a house that summer and I followed suit the next year.” 1
1 John Sloan, “Randall Davey,” New Mexico Quarterly, 21 (Spring 1951); pages 22-23.)