Arthur B. Davies: Sleep Lies Perfect in Them

Sleep Lies Perfect in Them, 1908

American, 1862-1928
Sleep Lies Perfect in Them, 1908
Oil on canvas
Gift of Cornelius N. Bliss

Copyright Notice

The eclectic art of Davies drew upon disparate sources- the romantic, poetic idealism of the late nineteenth century as well as the radical movements leading toward abstract art that arose in the first two decades of this century. A visible leader in the New York art scene in the 1910s, Davies was a mercurial personality who kept his personal life secretive: he had two separate families who remained unknown to each other until after his death.

Much of Davies's work in painting, prints, and watercolors is about mood rather than realistic representation. The content of Sleep Lies Perfect in Them, for example- nude or classically garbed female figures posed silently within a landscape setting- is remote from real life and is rendered in a decorative style. A major work from the artist's early maturity, its subject is typical, as is its evocation of goddesses from ancient mythology. Davies created an otherworldly idyll of slumber using subtle visual means: set within a horizontal expanse and painted in a quiet, muted palette, the contours of the recumbent figures echo the silhouette of distant mountains.