About This Artwork

Alson Skinner Clark
American, 1876–1949

The Coffee House, Winter 1905/6

Oil on canvas
96.5 x 76.2 cm (38 x 30 in.)
signed: A.S. Clark

Gift in honor of Mr. and Mrs. Alson E. Clark, 1915.256

In The Coffee House, Alson Skinner Clark painted Chicago on a winter day, with ice floating down the river and the city’s skyscrapers looming through smoke and fog. The State Street Bridge, with its characteristic curving ironwork, draws the viewer’s eye into the picture. Clark’s scene is in the tradition of the urban realism of the French Impressionists, recalling such pictures as Claude Monet’s Arrival of the Normandy Train, Gare Saint-Lazare (1877; the Art Institute of Chicago). Like Monet, Clark sought to suggest both the ephemeral nature of fog and smoke and the atmosphere’s effect upon the forms of the city.

— Permanent collection label

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Art Institute of Chicago, "Nineteenth Annual Exhibition of Oil Paintings and Sculpture by American Artists" October 16-November 29, 1906, no. 76.

Art Institute of Chicago, "First Exhibition of Works by Former Students and Instructors of the Art Institute of Chicago," January 8-February 7, 1918, no. 98.

Aurora, Illinois, Fine Arts Building, Old Fair Grounds, "Central States Fair and Exposition," August 4-12, 1922.

Art Institute of Chicago, "Half a Century of American Art," November 16, 1939-January 7, 1940, no. 37.

Chicago, University Club Lobby, October 17, 1951-June 3, 1954.

Art Institute of Chicago, "Art in Illinois in Honor of the Illinois Sesquicentennial," June 15-September 8, 1968, checklist, p. 3.

St. Louis Art Museum, "Currents of Expansion: Painting int he Midwest, 1829-1940," February 18-April 10, 1977, no. 80, as "Coffee House."

Art Institute of Chicago, "Centennial Exhibition; Alumni of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago," November 23, 1979-January 20, 1980, no. 26.

Sacramento, California, Crocker Art Museum, "California Light, 1900-1930," June 22-August 26, 1990; traveled to Laguna Art Museum, October 12, 1990-January 6, 1991; Dixon Gallery and Gardens, February 7-March 15, 1991, no. 119.

Chicago, Terra Museum of American Art, "Chicago Modern: 1893–1945: Pursuit of the New," July 17, 2004-October 31, 2004.

Publication History

AIC Bull IC (1915) p. 65; 72

Judith A. Barter et al, The Age of American Impressionism: Masterpieces from the Art Institute of Chicago (Art Institute of Chicago/Yale University Press, 2011), no. 90.

Interpretive Resources

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