Oil on canvas
Framed: 92.7 x 118.8 x 6.4 cm (36 1/2 x 46 3/4 x 2 1/2 in.); Unframed: 73.7 x 101.6 cm (29 x 40 in.)
Mr. and Mrs. William H. Marlatt Fund 2001.124
Barber Shop is set in an establishment that Sample patronized in Orleans, Vermont. It shows the spry, octogenarian proprietor, Mr. Bowman, shaving a gentleman with a straight-edge razor, while other customers concentrate on a game of billiards. At the time, barber shops were male gathering places. Lovingly rendered details, such as the still life of barber's implements beneath the mirror, the fisherman's creel on the wall, or the spittoon on the floor, all suggest the activities associated with the place and, if isolated, could serve as striking still-life compositions by themselves.
Along with Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1973) and Grant Wood (1892-1942), Paul Sample was one of the major American Regionalist painters of the 1930s and early 1940s. The son of a construction engineer, Sample attended Dartmouth College and began to paint while recuperating from tuberculosis shortly after graduation. He studied first with Jonas Lie in New York and later with Millard Sheets in Pasadena, where he went in part for the benefits of the warm, dry climate. In 1928, Sample married Sylvia Howland and began to spend his summers in Vermont. In 1938, Dartmouth College appointed him Artist-in-Residence. He maintained a studio there for the rest of his career.
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