PROPERTY OF A PRIVATE COLLECTOR
THE CLAM DIGGERS
10 1/2 by 23 3/4 in.
(26.7 by 60.3 cm)
signed W. Whittredge and dated 1866, l.r.
oil on canvas
Acquired by the present owner, circa 1965
Sarasota, Florida, John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art; Fort Worth, Texas, Amon Carter Museum of Art; Chattanooga, Tennessee, Hunter Museum of Art, Worthington Whittredge, December 1989-August 1990
Anthony F. Janson, Worthington Whittredge, New York, 1989, p. 98, illustrated
Between 1865 and 1867, Worthington Whittredge traveled along the Northeastern seaboard, recording the distinctive shoreline in his coastal scenes. During this period he worked in a luminist idiom and The Clam Diggers, painted in 1866, is one of the few paintings he executed in this style. He was likely influenced by his friend and contemporary Sanford Robinson Gifford whose luminist sketches painted at Cape Ann during the summer of 1865 seem to have had a profound impact on Whittredge's output of the following year.
Clam diggers combing the beach at dusk was a subject of interest for the artist during these two years. He depicted a lone clam digger and his dog at sunset in Second Beach, Newport (1865, private collection). The time of day appealed to Whittredge because of the diffused light and vibrant color and he exaggerated these effects to enhance the mood of the setting and elicit a personal response from the viewer. In creating a subtle gradation of blues, greens and browns in the foreground, Whittredge captures the sheen across the sandy shore as the water recedes to the ocean during low-tide. The bodies of the figures reflect off the sand as they make their way across the long stretch of beach.