Doris Lee’s bustling scene of women preparing a Thanksgiving feast became the object of national headlines when it was first exhibited at the Art Institute in 1935 and won the prestigious Logan Purchase Prize. The themes of Thanksgiving, rural customs, and family life, which Lee painted in a deliberately folksy manner, would have had great appeal to a country still in the midst of the Depression. Yet Josephine Logan, the donor of the prize, condemned the work’s broad, exaggerated style, founding the conservative “Sanity in Art” movement in response. This controversy only brought Lee fame, and Thanksgiving has been recognized as one of the most popular nostalgic views of this American ritual since that time.
Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.
Charles Fabens Kelley, “Chicago: Record Years,” Art News 51, 4 (June–August 1952), 69 (ill.).
Art Institute of Chicago, Masterpieces in the Art Institute of Chicago (Art Institute of Chicago, 1952), n.p. (ill.).
Kenneth Shopen, “Painting that Raised a Storm now Symbol of Thanksgiving,” Chicago Daily News, November 23, 1953.
Mary Anne Guitar, “Close–up of the Artist…Doris Lee,” Famous Artists Magazine, Winter 1959, 23 (ill.).
Art Institute of Chicago, Paintings in the Art Institute of Chicago (Art Institute of Chicago, 1961), 257.
“Beeline,” Chicago Daily News, November 27, 1974.
Matthew Baigell, The American Scene: American Painting of the 1930s (New York: Praeger, 1974), 59, pl. 11.
Charlotte Moser, “’In the Highest Efficiency’: Art Training at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago,” in The Old Guard and the Avant–Garde: Modernism in Chicago, 1910–1940, ed. Sue Ann Prince (University of Chicago Press, 1990), 207–208.
Deedee Wigmore, Doris Lee: Images of Delight 1930–1950 (D. Wigmore Fine Art, Inc., 1996), 3.
Todd D. Smith, “Painting for the Middlebrow: Doris Lee and the Making of a Popular Artist,” in American Art from the Dicke Collection, exh. cat., (Dayton, OH: Dayton Art Institute, 1997), 33 (ill.), 34, 39–42.
Judith A. Barter et al., American Modernism at the Art Institute of Chicago, From World War I to 1955, (Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago/Yale University Press, 2009), no. 81.
Jessica Skwire Routhier, “The Art of Doris Lee,” Antiques and The Arts Weekly, Sept. 17, 2021, 30-31 (Ill.).
Washington, DC, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Fourteenth Biennial Exhibition of Contemporary American Oil Paintings, Mar. 24–May 5, 1935, cat. 220.
Art Institute of Chicago, Forty–Sixth Annual Exhibition of American Paintings and Sculpture, Oct. 24–Dec. 8, 1935, cat. 123.
Art Institute of Chicago, Half a Century of American Art, Nov. 16–Jan. 7, 1940, cat. 101.
Montclair Art Museum, NJ, America Yesterday and Today, Jan. 2–26, 1941, cat. 35.
Worcester Art Museum, MA, A Decade of American Painting: 1930–1940, Feb. 18–Mar. 22, 1942, p. 18.
Brussels, Galerie Georges Giroux, L’Exposition d’art Américain contemporain, Mar. 20–Apr. 10, 1948, cat. 60.
Coral Gables, FL, Miami University Art Gallery, Sept. 29–Nov. 15, 1950, no. cat.
Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, Famous Paintings and Famous Painters, Oct. 4–Nov. 2, 1958, cat. 21.
Denver Art Museum, The American Panorama, Mar. 17–May 27, 1968, no cat.
Columbus, OH, Ohio State University Art Gallery, America, ca. 1930, Oct. 12–31, 1968, no cat.
Poughkeepsie, NY, Vassar College Art Gallery, Seven American Women: The Depression Decade, Jan. 19–Mar. 5, 1976, cat. 52.
Wichita Art Museum, The Neglected Generation of American Realist Painters: 1930–1948, May 3–June 14, 1981, fig. 27.
Roslyn Harbor, NY, Nassau County Museum of Art, American Realism Between the Wars: 1919–1941, Apr. 10–June 5, 1994, pp. 18–21, 61, fig. 21.
Art Institute of Chicago, Art and Appetite: American Painting, Culture, and Cuisine, Nov. 10, 2013–Jan. 27, 2014, cat. 32; Fort Worth, Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Feb. 22–May 18, 2014.
Art Institute of Chicago, America After the Fall: Painting in the 1930s, June 5–Sept. 18, 2016, cat. 30; Paris, Musée de l’Orangerie, Oct. 15, 2016–Jan. 30, 2017; London, Royal Academy, Feb. 25–June 4, 2017.
Shanghai Museum, Pathways to Modernism: American Art, 1865–1945, Sept. 28, 2018–Jan. 6, 2019, cat. 61.
Greensburg, PA, Westmoreland Museum of American Art, Simple Pleasures: The Art of Doris Lee, Sept. 26, 2021–Jan. 9, 2022, cat.; Davenport, IA, Figge Art Museum, Feb. 5–May 8, 2022; Vero Beach, FL, Vero Beach Museum of Art, June 5–Sept. 18, 2022; Memphis, TN, Dixon Gallery and Gardens, Oct. 30, 2022–Jan. 15, 2023 (Greensburg, Davenport, and Vero Beach only).
Doris Lee (1905–1983), c. 1935; sold to the Art Institute of Chicago, 1935.
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