After Sunset

Artist: Thomas Wilmer Dewing (1851-1938)
Historical period(s)
Oil on canvas
H x W: 107 x 137.4 cm (42 1/8 x 54 1/8 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

night, United States

From 1892 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Thomas Wilmer Dewing on December 27, 1892 [1]

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


[1] 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


During the early 1890s Dewing painted a series of landscapes with figures which he referred to as "decorations." After Sunset's two evening-gowned women in a twilight setting are rendered in soft fresco-like tones of green, mauve, and white. While the figures are precise and somewhat linear in execution, the landscape itself is freely painted and the canvas coarsely woven. The artist's subject matter always remained ambiguous, never attempting to convey a message or tell a story.  Dewing thought that the public failed to understand these landscape "decorations" as they did his interior scenes with figures. He wrote to Freer, "My decorations belong to the poetic and imaginative world where a few choice spirits live." (Thomas Wilmer Dewing to Charles Lang Freer, February 16, 1901, Freer Gallery of Art Archives.)  Not only was the artist trying to establish a mood in his paintings, but the very ambiguity of the mood demanded viewer participation--and an appreciation of beauty for its own sake.

Published References
  • Susan Hobbs. Thomas Wilmer Dewing: Beauty into Art: A Catalogue Raisonné. New Haven, CT, November 13, 2018. pg 263, pl 106.
  • Mary Ellen Hayward. The Influence of the Classical Oriental Tradition. vol. 14, no. 2 Chicago, Summer 1979. fig. 21.
  • Susan Hobbs. Thomas Dewing in Cornish, 1885-1905. vol. XVII, no. 2 New York, Spring 1985. p. 16, fig. 15.
  • Susan Hobbs. The Art of Thomas Wilmer Dewing: Beauty Reconfigured. Exh. cat. Washington, 1996. p. 21, fig. 14.
  • Linda Merrill. An Ideal Country: Paintings by Dwight William Tryon in the Freer Gallery of Art. Washington and Hanover and London, 1990. p. 65, fig. 55.
  • Susan Hobbs. A Connoisseur's Vision of America: The American Collection of Charles Lang Freer., August 1977. p. 83.
  • Ulrich W. Hiesinger. Impressionism in America: The Ten American Painters. Munich and New York, 1991. pp. 115-116.
  • Sarah Lea Burns. The Poetic Mode in American Paintings: George Fuller and Thomas Dewing. Ann Arbor, 1983. pp. 228, 233, 235, 269, 419, fig. 45.
  • Royal Cortissoz. An American Artist Canonized in the Freer Gallery. vol. LXXIV, November 1923. p. 545.
Collection Area(s)
American Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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