Skip to Content
Closed today, next open Thursday. Closed today, next open Thursday.

The Artist Looks at Nature

Painting of artist drawing on easel, green landscape, stone walls surround him.

Image actions

  • Painting of artist drawing on easel, green landscape, stone walls surround him.




Charles Sheeler
American, 1883–1965

About this artwork

The Artist Looks at Nature presents an imagined scene of rolling greenery, massive stone walls, stairs, and pathways. Contrary to its title, the artist, Charles Sheeler, depicted himself seated at an easel, ignoring the brightly lit landscape in front of him. Rather, the figure works intently on a monochromatic drawing of an antiquated stove, which is based on one of Sheeler’s own photographs from 1917. The self-portrait also relies upon an earlier photograph by the artist.

Here, Sheeler engaged in reconstructing his own artistic past—looking back at his work across media and reconfiguring it into something new and surreal in the present. Although the painting’s intent remains unknown, it is clear that Sheeler, as artist, catalyzed and shaped this visual journey.


On View, Gallery 262


Arts of the Americas


Charles Sheeler


The Artist Looks at Nature


United States (Artist's nationality:)

Date  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.



Oil on canvas


Inscribed lower right: Sheeler. 1943


53.3 × 45.7 cm (21 × 18 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Society for Contemporary American Art

Reference Number


Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.


Sign up for our enewsletter to receive updates.

Learn more

Image actions