August—Mother with Child under Newspaper
21 in. x 18 in. (53.34 cm x 45.72 cm)
Medium and Support:
Watercolor on paper
Bequest of Charles E. Shannon
August—Mother and Child Under Newspaper is one of Gillis' earliest works painted in 1935 when he left Alabama to study art in New York. The work reveals that the main characteristics of Gillis' style were in place from the beginning of his career: a palette of muted though rich tones, an interest in local scenes with an edge of social commentary, and simple, almost classical compositions with few extraneous details. Gillis has said in regard to the subject of the painting "...the woman with her baby was one of those poor, country people, in Depression days, who had come to town, sitting in front of a feed store, on a sweltering hot August Saturday afternoon, with a fretful baby on her lap, covered with a newspaper to protect it from a horde of flies.