Before Sunrise

Artist: Thomas Wilmer Dewing (1851-1938)
Historical period(s)
Oil on canvas
H x W: 106.8 x 137.6 cm (42 1/16 x 54 3/16 in)
United States
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Oil painting

landscape, morning, ukiyo-e, United States

From 1894 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Thomas Wilmer Dewing in 1894 [1]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [2]


[1] Purchased from T. W. Dewing on September 10, 1894; presumably unfinished at purchase (see Curatorial Remark 7, May 26, 2009, in the object record). See also, Curatorial Remark 4, Linda Merrill, March 22, 1993, in the object file.

[2] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Thomas Wilmer Dewing (C.L. Freer source) 1851-1938
Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919


Painter Thomas Dewing received a package of prints imported from Japan while he was painting Before Sunrise, one of a series of decorative works for collector Charles Lang Freer's parlor. Dewing's graceful figures suggest leisure and elegance, and they may be seen as Western counterparts to the refined courtesans in Japanese ukiyo-e prints. The artist briefly considered calling his painting "Dedicated to Utamaro," in honor of the influential Japanese artist Kitagawa Utamaro (1754--1806). He later asked Freer to hang Japanese prints in the parlor so they could be easily compared with his paintings.

Published References
  • Susan Hobbs. Thomas Wilmer Dewing: Beauty into Art: A Catalogue Raisonné. New Haven, CT, November 13, 2018. pg 278, pl 120.
  • Susan Hobbs. Thomas Dewing in Cornish, 1885-1905. vol. XVII, no. 2 New York, Spring 1985. p. 18, fig. 17.
  • Susan Hobbs. The Art of Thomas Wilmer Dewing: Beauty Reconfigured. Exh. cat. Washington, 1996. p. 22, fig. 15.
  • Ulrich W. Hiesinger. Impressionism in America: The Ten American Painters. Munich and New York, 1991. p. 111, fig. 39.
  • Thomas Lawton, Linda Merrill. Freer: a legacy of art. Washington and New York, 1993. pp. 168, 170, fig. 116.
  • Melody Barnett Deusner. Aesthetic Painting in Britain and America: Collectors, Art Worlds, Networks. London, England, November 17, 2020. p. 196, fig. 93.
  • Katharina Neuburger. "Die amerikanische Erfahrung, oder: Weshalb Marcel Duchamp in New York Werke ausstellen konnte, die keine Kunst sind." The American experience, or: why Marcel Duchamp in New York could exhibit works that are not art. Cologne, Germany. p. 313, fig. 35.
  • Sarah Lea Burns. The Poetic Mode in American Paintings: George Fuller and Thomas Dewing. Ann Arbor, 1983. p. 418, fig. 44.
Collection Area(s)
American Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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