Aug 9, 2007

Wisdom and Destiny

Wisdom and Destiny


Henry Keller

(American, 1869–1949)

Oil on canvas

Framed: 94.6 x 120 x 5.8 cm (37 1/4 x 47 1/4 x 2 5/16 in.); Unframed: 76.5 x 101.9 cm (30 1/8 x 40 1/8 in.)

Gift of Mrs. Henry A. Everett for the Dorothy Burnham Everett Memorial Collection 1928.580



Keller championed modern art in Cleveland through lectures, teaching, and the example of his own work. Wisdom and Destiny, based on an essay by the Belgian writer Maurice Maeterlinck, features the two allegorical figures at the right, while a carefree shepherd at the left seems oblivious to their existence. The painting was featured in the famed Armory Show of 1913, a large-scale traveling exhibition often credited with introducing the American public to avant-garde art. Because of the critical success surrounding Wisdom and Destiny, Keller was commissioned to create a 70-foot mural of the composition for Cleveland City Hall. However, he resentfully withdrew from the project when asked to paint clothing on the nude figure.

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