3. Work …. and our suffering shall be as if it had never been

Donald Justice, 1925-2004, American



3.  The world is very dusty, uncle.***

     Let us work.


*** Reference to what Sonya says to her uncle Vanya at the end of the play – Uncle Vanya – by Anton Chekhov (1860-1904, Russian).


Sonya’s speech is from the Christian tradition: she believes that it is after we work and die that God will take pity and we will rest.




A Maid Asleep, 1656-57, oil on canvas. 

Johannes Vermeer, 1632-75, Dutch.  Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY





The meadow garden, Mt. Cuba, Hockessin, Delaware, weeded by hand by 3 gardeners. Spring, 2015 





A seller of breadfruit which she and her extended family grew. Old City, Ahmedabad, Gujerat, India, 2008





M.D., 1935, colour screenprint. 

Harry Sternberg, 1904-2001, American.  Philadelphia Art Museum




Girl Sweeping, 1912, oil on canvas. 

William McGregor Paxton, 1896-1941.  Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. 2016






Noam Chomsky, now 92 and still working. Born, 1928, American.  Linguist, analytic philosopher, cognitive scientist, logician.  Political activist. 

Philadelphia Mural Program:  a mural which disappeared behind new building after 2011










Hagop Barin, Turkish of Armenian descent, in his shop on Pine Street in Philadelphia, mending a carpet.  Autumn 2020






Peeling Onions, 1852, oil on canvas;

Lily Martin Spencer, 1822-1902, American. Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester exhibited in 2015 at the Philadelphia Art Museum






Table for Ladies, 1930, oil on canvas. 

Edward Hopper, 1882-1967. Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY 

The title alludes to an advertising moniker used to invite women to dine alone or with other women, a practice frowned upon in prior years





The Road Menders, 1889, oil on canvas. 

Vincent Van Gogh, 1853-1889, Dutch.  Phillips Collection, Washington, DC

A studio version of a larger painting – The Large Plane Trees – completed en plein air




The Street Pavers, 1914, oil on canvas. 

Umberto Boccioni, 1882-1916.  MOMA, NY




Worker and Machine, 1928, oil on wood. 

Hugo Gellert, 1892-1985, Hungarian American.  Loaned by a private collection to the Whitney Museum of Art in 2020




Haulers, 1929, linocut on Japanese paper. 

Sybille Andrews, 1898-1992, British later active Canada.  Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY




Pneumatic Drilling, 1931-31, charcoal on paper. 

Diego Rivera, 1886-1957, Mexican.  Loaned by the Museo Dolores Olmedo to the Whitney Museum, NY in 2020





Fixing The Wires, 1932, linocut on Japanese paper.

Lili Tschudi, 1911-2004, Swiss,  Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY




Man with Drill, 1935-42, woodcut. 

Charles Turzack, 1899-1986, American.  Philadelphia Art Museum




The Driller, 1937 (Rikers Island, NY), tempera on composition board. 

Harold Lehman, 1919-2006, American.  Loaned to the Whitney Museum, NY by the Smithsonian American Art Museum in 2020




Two Men Pushing Cart, 1939, oil on canvas. 

Bendor Mark, 1912-1995, American.  Loan by the Smithsonian American Art Museum to the Whitney, NY in 2020








Automotive Industry, and details, 1940, oil on canvas.

  Marvin Beerbohm, 1908-1981, Canadian, for the Works Project Administration, Detroit.  Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Washington, DC





Men and Drill Press, 1941, oil on board. 

Claud Clark, 1915-2001, American.  Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia







Tender, 1993, oil on canvas.

James W. (Bo ) Bartlett, American born 1955. Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia





Philadelphia Mural Program; painted in 2006 by Michael Webb as a tribute to trades and labor.  Spring Garden Street near 12th Street, Philadelphia. Overpainted after 2020





The Bernheim-Jeune Brothers, 1920, oil on canvas. 

Pierre Bonnard, 1867-1947, French.  Musee d’Orsay, Paris on loan to MOMA, NY in 2020 

The museum’s guidance is that Gaston and Josse Bernheim took over their father’s gallery business in the early years of the 20th century and represented Pierre Bonnard for more than 30 years.





Government Bureau, 1956, egg tempera on wood. 

George Tooker, 1920-2010, American.  Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY





Apartment Houses, 1923, oil on canvas. 

Edward Hopper, 1882-1967, American.  Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts




The Photographer, 1942, watercolour, gouache and graphite on paper. 

Jacob Lawrence, 1917-2000, American.  Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY



Loading Crates, 1959, ink on paper. 

Domenico Gnoli, 1933-1970, Italian.  MOMA, NY




Women pulling a cart carrying bales of cotton. West side of Ahmedabad, Gujerat, India, 2008




Landscape with Figures, 1965-66, egg tempera on gessoed panel.  Private collection; photo from the net.

George Tooker, 1920-2011, American






Maid, nylon, cotton, satin, kapok, human hair, plastic, paint, wood, chair, floor lamp, 1966

Jann Haworth, born 1942, American.  Exhibited at the International POP exhibition at the Philadelphia Art Museum in 2016 




The House Painter II, 1984, bronze, polychromed in oil, mixed media, with accessories.

Duane Hanson, 1925–1996, American.  Private collection on loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2018





Tom the Butcher, 1955, oil on canvas. 

Dolya Goutman, 1915-2001, American.  Woodmere Museum of Art, Philadelphia






A Lancaster County, Pennsylvania farmer at his stall in Headhouse Square, Philadelphia, early autumn 2019









De Style, and details, 1993, acrylic and collage on canvas. 

Kerry James Marshall, American born 1955. Museum Associates, Los Angeles County Museum on loan to the Metropolitan in 2016

An important work for the artist in terms of both content and style, this is a tableau of a barber’s shop, a place of community, socialization, news, self-transformation in the African American community.

The name of the painting refers both to an actual shop, Percy’s House of Style, and the Dutch modern art movement, De Stijl whose emphases on red, yellow and blue and a rectilinear grid are reflected here




PhJuly2018 126

PhJuly2018 127

Untitled (Policeman), 2015, synthetic polymer paint on PVC panel with plexi frame. 

Kerry James Marshall, American born 1955. Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY





$10/Hour, Customer First, Essential Worker, mixed media, paper, paint. 

Eustace Mamba Francis, BFA graduate in 2020 at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, Philadelphia.  No other information





One day the sickness shall pass from the earth for good.

The orchard will bloom; someone will play the guitar.

Our work will be seen as strong and clean and good.




Woman Playing a Guitar, c. 1618, oil on canvas. 

 Simon Vouet, 1590-1649, French.  Metropolitan Museum of Art from whose website this photo




         And all that we suffered through having existed

       Shall be forgotten as though it had never existed.








8 thoughts on “3. Work …. and our suffering shall be as if it had never been

  1. This is a stunning meditation in visuals giving meaning to work of so many kinds and colours. Thank you for sharing this at the end of a wearying year when even our waking and wondering begins to take on the effort of work.

  2. Thank you for the post and it’s generosity. I look forward to reading the next one.

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