Summer Heat and Gardens

Karl Knaths, Green Squash, 1948. Oil on canvas, 24 1/8 x 27 1/4 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. Acquired 1948.

Summer solstice isn’t until June 21, but it has certainly felt like summer already. Late spring of 1943 was also hot. Letters from Elmira Bier, Duncan Phillips’s assistant, to Alfred Stieglitz sound much like conversation you would hear around our Dupont Circle neighborhood today. On June 29, 1943, she writes, “I trust [my letter] finds you well and able to stand this heat. I am tiring a little of one topic of conversation but no one seems able to avoid it.” In a letter a few weeks before, she lovingly described her gardening:

At the moment we are having a nice summer shower which will be fine for the brockely[sic] I set out last night. My dream for a small house and a large garden is still only the stuff dreams are made of but I have the use of a garden where I have put cabbages among my roses and tomatoes with my violets so weather has become very important to me. I’ll report on the crops later.

Ms. Bier started working for The Phillips Collection in 1923 and retired in 1972.