Arthur B. Davies, The Hesitation of Orestes, c.1915-18. Oil on canvas, 26 x 40 1/8 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. Acquired 1923.
Art and Archaeology publishes Duncan Phillips’s article, “The American painter, Arthur B. Davies,” a painter about whom Phillips will write many times in the coming years. In the article, Phillips invokes Piero di Cosimo as a painter of related spirit. Around the time Phillips is writing his article, Davies is creating The Hesitation of Orestes, which clearly shares a palette, perspective, and setting with Piero’s A Hunting Scene (c. 1507-08).
. . . However, in spite of the technical distinction of the art of Davies, the originality of the work is mental rather than manual. The paradox of his aggressive attitude as a chef d ecole of modernity is that really he is only a modern edition of that quaint primitive Piero di Cosimo. In every age such dreamers seem unsatisfied, preferring evocations of the past and intimations of the future to sensations of the present hour.
In this year, Phillips acquires at least two works by Davies: Many Waters (c. 1905) and Visions of Glory (1896).
Plate and print proposed by Scip Barnhart for the Phillips's 60th anniversary. Photos: Scip Barnhart
Long before he led Thursday’s Jasper Johns-inspired printmaking demonstration, Scip Barnhart brought his master printer credentials to the Phillips. In 1981, Scip presented Marjorie Phillips with this proposal for a 60th anniversary commemorative print–an image of Duncan Phillips posed with furrowed brow before the museum’s original entrance, as if seen through a fishbowl or convex mirror. Though the print was not accepted for the diamond anniversary, Scip held onto it over more than 30 intervening years (it hangs framed on an upstairs wall of his home) and shared it with us as we prepared for a major exhibition focused on innovation in his medium of printmaking.
The Phillips family house at 21st and Q Streets NW, built in 1897. (Left) Circa 1900, the house as originally conceived. (Right) 1930s, after the House had been expanded three times, the most recent addition in 1923 to add Marjorie's studio, a library, and nursery as a fourth floor. Photos: Phillips Collection Archives
The Phillipses are granted a building permit by the District of Columbia for an addition designed by local architect Frank H. Brooke. The permit calls for “a full fourth story by changing the present roof and making a mansard roof . . .” which provides Marjorie Phillips with studio space for painting, as well as a small library and a nursery. The estimated cost for the work is $6,500.