Portrait of Americana: Night Baseball

Marjorie Phillips, Night Baseball, 1951. Oil on canvas, 24 1/4 x 36 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. Gift of the artist, 1951 or 1952

Marjorie Phillips, Night Baseball, 1951. Oil on canvas, 24 1/4 x 36 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. Gift of the artist, 1951 or 1952

My favorite work from The Phillips Collection’s permanent collection is Marjorie Phillips’s 1951 oil painting, Night Baseball. There is something nostalgic about the way Phillips represents a night at Griffith Stadium. This visual representation of the moment just before the pitch is thrown evokes all of the other senses. When I look at this painting, I hear the buzz of the crowd and I feel the wind push my skin as the breeze ushers in the smells of the ballpark. Phillips masterfully depicts a night sky that is black but somehow simultaneously glowing from the stadium lights—an effect that is familiar to anyone who has been to a nighttime sports game.

Night Baseball is an enduring snapshot of American life. Perhaps my favorite thing about this piece is its current placement within the museum: on a wall adjacent to the landing of a staircase; the location seems almost incidental. I think its placement adds to its charm—Night Baseball endears itself to the viewer by immersing her in a sensory-rich, familiar American scene.

Lizzie Moore, Marketing & Communications Intern

Unforgettable Evening with Emanuel Ax

Emanuel Ax photo_Daniel Schwartz

Photo: Daniel Schwartz

Huge thanks to the folks at PianoCraft for helping Phillips Music stay in tune this concert season! This beautiful Steingraeber grand they lent us for the 75th anniversary Emanuel Ax benefit concert made the evening unforgettable. Mr. Ax sat at the freshly-tuned piano for no more than 15 seconds to warm up, hammered out a heap of chords and scales, and proclaimed: “perfect, I’m ready now.” PianoCraft, thank you for never letting us miss a single note this season.

Caroline Mousset, Music Director

Right out Under the Sky

Chase_The Big Bayberry Bush

William Merritt Chase, The Big Bayberry Bush, c. 1895. Oil on canvas, 25 1/2 x 33 1/8 in. Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, New York, Littlejohn Collection

A true plein-air artist, William Merritt Chase painted right out “under the sky,” working directly on the canvas to capture his immediate impressions of the area surrounding his home in Shinnecock Hills, where he taught annually from 1891 to 1902. Completed about midway through his Shinnecock years, The Big Bayberry Bush is a singular example of how Chase distilled “the harmony which I see in nature.” With an eye for color and spatial arrangement, Chase positions his three eldest daughters in bright white frocks with colored accessories playing near a bayberry bush in a flat, open terrain of brush and sand dunes near their summer home. Their varying poses and placements in the scene create a dynamic, triangular movement that leads the viewer’s eye in a zig-zag line from the foreground to the distant Stanford White-designed shingle-style home on the distant horizon before resting on the serene blue sky above. The warm burnt umber tones against the cool grays and pale azure sky suggest the passing of summer into early autumn. A critic later praised the work for “its admirable atmospheric effect, and for the deft description of summer sunshine.”

Elsa Smithgall, Exhibition Curator