Art and Sleep

Exhibition ‘America, Painting a nation’


The following is a series of ten paintings from the exhibition ‘America, Painting a nation’. They have been put on this website for one month only and are a compliment to a monthly column in the Northern Star newspaper. The emphasis of the article which appeared on March 12, 2014, is that, in my view, the best of these paintings were predominantly of children and made me reflect on the children that we see at the Youthdale Child and Adolescent Sleep Centre.


Passing by
Ernest Martin Hennings

Hennings, Passing By

This painting of three horse riders evokes a richness of culture and colour. A depiction is of Taos Pueblo men riding through trees, and was a highly acclaimed painting at the time it was executed. It evokes the American Southwest.


Daniel Garber


This painting is discussed in the article in the Northern Star of March 12, 2014.


Three am
John Sloan

Three A.M. - John French Sloan

The catalogue of the exhibition quotes the artist as having ‘surmised’ that the seated woman was ‘engaged in some occupation that brought her home about this hour of the morning’. One cannot help but comment that 3.00am is the circadian nadir in terms of alertness. The woman at the stove perhaps reflects this.


Mother about to wash her sleepy child
Mary Cassatt

Mother about to Wash her Sleepy Child - Mary Cassatt

For psychiatrists and psychologists in particular, this painting will make one think of attachment theory and the importance of early mother-childhood bonds. The bidirectional gentle affection emanating from both is almost palpable. The vertical squiggles on the wallpaper are not to be confused with the lines on a sleep recording, but are reminiscent of work by Matisse.


The herd boy
Frederic Remington

File:Frederic Remington - The Herd Boy - Google Art Project.jpg

This painting is described in detail in the article in the Northern Star of March 12, 2014.


Picnic party in the woods
John George Brown

File:John George Brown - Picnic Party in the Woods (1872).jpg

This scene which could easily be thought of as a European depiction is described as reflecting ‘a spirit of optimism and renewal’. The game the children are playing is not self-evident to me, but is apparently one involving the process of courtship.


Southern courtship
Eastman Johnson

File:Eastman Johnson - Southern Courtship - Google Art Project.jpg

In this painting the issue of courtship is totally obvious, even without the title. The painting has a sense of reality, and can be viewed as an important step in recognizing that lofty emotions have no racial barrier.


The young mechanic
Allen Smith Jr.

File:Allen Smith Jr. The Young Mechanic 1848 LACMA M81 179 1.png

This painting is described in detail in the article in the Northern Star of March 12, 2014.


The blacksmith
Jefferson David Chalfant

The Blacksmith

As with the previous painting, this is a workshop scene. I have a particular interest in paintings of blacksmith’s and I welcome readers to send paintings or alert me to paintings of blacksmith’s that they may be aware of. You can send them to


Blind man’s bluff
John Lewis Krimmel

Blind Man's Bluff - John Lewis Krimmel

This group scene of children playing indoors has a Bruegel feel. The artist is of German extraction. The tools of everyday life, rather than of the working environment (of the previous painting), are shown to good effect.


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