Charles Sheeler



When Sheeler left the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1906, he took a studio in Philadelphia with Morton Livingston Schamberg, who had been his classmate. Three years later he and Schamberg visited Italy and Paris together. While in Paris, Sheeler saw the apartment of Gertrude and Leo Stein and their collection of paintings by Matisse, Braque, Picasso, and Cezanne. This exposure had a profound effect upon his developing style, and the pictures he made following his return home show a marked change from those that predate the trip.

Following his return to the United States, Sheeler began to turn to photography as his profession. He took a house in Bucks County, Pennsylvania where he spent weekends painting.

Arthur B. Davies was the spirit behind the International Exhibition of Modern Art (the “Armory Show”), which opened in New York in the winter of 1913. Upon viewing photographs of Sheeler’s new work, Davies immediately invited the artist to send six paintings of his own choice to be included in the show. Sheeler responded with enthusiasm. Years later, he commented that Davies’ invitation was of pivotal importance to his career. “This was the most exciting thing that ever happened to me. I thought, gee whiz, to be included in that bunch of pictures. The clouds more-or-less parted. Davies was a very powerful factor …. he had a number of high-powered collectors sitting around his throne.”

The Armory Show was Sheeler’s first public exhibition following his 1909 trip to Europe. He submitted four still lifes and two landscapes: Landscape with Waterfall and Landscape (1913, Private Collection), a painting of a house set amidst hills and trees charged with brilliant, electric color. None of Sheeler’s paintings sold from the Armory Show, but Landscape with Waterfall was purchased later in the same year by the private collector M. Detweiller.

2022        American Masters: Art of the 19th – 21st Centuries