The Cathedrals of Art is one in a series of four paintings in which Florine Stettheimer depicted the major “places of worship” in New York City: Broadway, Wall Street, Fifth Avenue, and the art world. Each one she irreverently refers to as various "Cathedrals". This series is perhaps the best example of Stettheimer’s use of stage design techniques to best express her slyly satirical thoughts.
In The Cathedrals of Art, the stage is set within the Metropolitan Museum of Art, with the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art waiting in the wings. Their missions were more specific than the Met’s, and in Stettheimer’s time, they were often competing with each other to become the space for new art in New York. It’s easy to see what Stettheimer thought of their administrative squabbles: the babies, who signify new art, are heading up the stairs into the central court of the Met.
Many other key players appear in the painting to represent the art world and its attitudes at the time. Stettheimer herself is on the bottom right, stepping gently on a sash bearing the word “commère” (godmother). She was in her seventies while working on this painting, but her painted self appears much younger. To her left is art critic Henry McBridge, standing guard at the entrance to the museum, holding “Stop” and “Go” flags—a nervy nod to his power over public opinion. Alfred Stieglitz, bedecked in black cape, stands at the bottom of the museum stairs. Other friends of Stettheimer appear in the painting, as was her style: her subject matter was often family and friends, including members of the intellectual salon she ran with her sisters.
Unfortunately, Stettheimer died before she could complete the painting, the last in her Cathedral series. It now hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the very institution she painted with tongue firmly in cheek.
+ Museum quality: archival inks, 100% cotton rag paper unless noted
+ Handcrafted custom-framing is available
Our quoted dimensions are for the size of paper containing the images, not the printed image itself. We do not alter the aspect ratio, nor do we crop or resize the artists’ originals. All of our prints have a minimum border of .5 inches to allow for framing.
Museo Portfolio Rag
10"x8" | edition of 20
14"x11" | edition of 100
20"x16" | edition of 50