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Railroad Avenue

Railroad Avenue


Clarence Holbrook Carter


Color aquatint

The Mary Spedding Milliken Memorial Collection, Gift of William Mathewson Milliken 1946.467



This color aquatint is based on a recently discovered watercolor by Carter. One of the most imaginative interpreters of the American scene, Carter typically infused his subjects with a personal, mysterious meaning. The night railroad crossing depicted in this painting may refer to a childhood memory that brought him to a sudden awareness that we do not always control our fate. The night his younger sister died, he was walking home with his father when they came to a railroad crossing. Instead of stopping for a fast approaching train, his father whisked him up and rushed across the tracks, dangerously close to the grinding wheels and hissing steam. “Now looking back,” Carter observed, “it seems that I was made aware of the vastness of the universe and that something more powerful than any one of us was always bearing down upon each life existing at a given time upon this planet.”

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