The “Drop”

”The three members of a middle-class family – a pastor, his wife and their daughter – form a staid group in this painting of a well-decorated interior. The smooth finish of Harry Willson Watrous’ brushwork obscures the insidious reality of racism implied in the work’s title. The ”drop” refers to a pernicious American custom of treating anyone with even a drop of African-American blood as black and discriminating against them on that basis. Watrous’ carefully rendered painting of a mixed-race daughter and her parents suggests that beneath the veneer of egalitarianism and placid family togetherness (portrayed  in this scene), the treatment of African-Americans in the United States was still far from equal.” Portland Museum of Art

And, guess what… more than a century later, it is still isn’t.

However, had I not read the description I’d never have guessed the Artist’s reference. So captivated was I by the Mother’s silent despair and the Father’s quiet resignation at the Little Girl’s insistent demand, I missed that point completely.

Harry Willson Watrous (U.S., 1857-1940)
The Drop Sinister – What Shall We Do with It?, ca. 1913
Oil on canvas


Portland, ME

November 21st, 2018

2 thoughts on “The “Drop”

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