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Classification: Painting

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Image of The Diners

Guy Pène Du Bois
American, 1884–1958

The Diners

about 1912

Object Type: Painting
Creation Place: North America, American, New York
Dimensions:
20 in. x 15 in. (50.8 cm x 38.1 cm)
Medium and Support: Oil on wood panel
Accession Number: 1989.0002.0010

Credit Line: Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Montgomery, Alabama, The Blount Collection

Currently On View


"The Diners" dates from early in du Bois’ career. During this period, du Bois was actively writing art criticism for several publications, as well as assisting with the organization of the Armory Show, and thus his paintings were executed as time allowed. While he painted on canvas, during this stage of his career he also painted on wooden panel, which is the support for this work. The subject matter—upper class individuals seen in a public setting—was typical for the artist both in his early painted works and in his drawings.

"The Diners" illustrates an important aspect of the artist’s approach to his subject matter; that is the relationship between men and women of the upper classes. In this work, both parties are quite reserved, isolated from both their environment and from each other. The sideways glance of the waiter who stands at the ready reinforces the air of tension in this arrested moment. Compositionally, the isolation of the figures is increased by the reflected light on the surface of the table and the shadow of the support column that falls between them. The stiffness of the figures is further accentuated by the architectural columns that anchor them visually. This cool and dispassionate presentation reflects du Bois’ frequent observation of members of the upper classes as participants in a drama of quiet desperation.

American Paintings from the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, 2006, cat. no. 66, p. 152.

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