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Half-way House

Date: 1864
Dimensions:
22 x 39 1/2 in. (55.9 x 100.3 cm.)
Medium: oil on canvas
Credit Line: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Gift of the Virginia Steele Scott Foundation
Object Number: 83.8.5
Label Text:David Gilmour Blythe's genre paintings often satirize the follies of his fellow citizens of southeastern Pennsylvania. In Half-way House, a sleigh has overturned, dumping its occupants onto the muddy ground in front of the Half-way House tavern in Uniontown, Pennsylvania. Many of Blythe's paintings refer to the consequences of consuming alcohol, and he perhaps included the corked bottle in the foreground to suggest why the sleigh-driver lost control of the sleigh. The driver also might have been distracted by reading the Pittsburgh Post. Blythe, a supporter of the Union during the Civil War, disliked the Post for its editorial position that the Union should compromise with the Confederacy.

Blythe's genre paintings, depicting scenes from daily life, explore a darker side of the mid-19th century than the subjects chosen by his contemporaries George Caleb Bingham and Eastman Johnson, who tended to focus on the themes of work and community, as seen in examples in this gallery.