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The Old Swimming Hole

The Old Swimming Hole

Artist: James Arthur Benade (American, 1823 - 1853)

Date: 1849
Medium: oil on canvas
Dimensions:
Canvas: 35 1/2 x 59 1/4 in. (90.2 x 150.5 cm)
Credit Line:Gift, Muhlenberg Estate
Object number: 1924.45.1
This important work in American art history is often cited as one of the earliest views of the nude figure outside the context of a mythological or allegorical subject. Here, we see a group of young men enjoying a summertime swim in a water hole near a mill. When it was exhibited in 1851, it was entered under the title, Bathing, an art critic, writing in the Berks and Schuylkill Journal wrote in March, 1851, “This is one of Benade’s principle compositions, and attracts deserved attention. The drawing is admirable both in the fore and background. The mill and scenery are excellent. Greater variety in the colouring would make it more effective—but on the whole, it is the best composition in that line in the room.” 
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