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 (also in this
exhibition). 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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