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Arthur Heming (1870–1940)
Aurora Borealis, 1906
Oil on canvas board
Gift of Helen D. Perkins
Heming creates a breathtaking viewpoint of a wolf in the wild, his freedom evident in his stature high on the mountain, the outstretched landscape below him his vast territory. Despite the dazzling northern lights overtaking the sky (and most of the painting), the wolf’s interest lies solely on the men below and the dogs they have enslaved with harnesses and whips for their own personal gain.
Barely visible, the sledders are a minimal focus in the painting, showing how small people truly are in the world, but also their frightening power, as each man bears control over roughly a dozen sled dogs. Comparing such freedom of the wolf in all the beauty in nature to the seemingly civilized lives of the men below makes a human’s exist appear trivial and, as forceful as he is, out of touch with his surroundings.
Please Note: This painting is on view through July 1, 2007 in the exhibition, A Circle of Friends: The Artists of the Florence Griswold House.