Demuth Museum

Charles Demuth, b 1883- d 1935
120 East King Street , Lancaster, PA 17602 - view on Google Maps
717-299-9940
The Demuth Museum, located in the former home and studio of Charles Demuth, maintains a permanent collection of over 40 Demuth works, and an extensive archive, a library and rotating exhibitions. As a leader of the American Modernist movement, Demuth is best known as a pioneer of the Precisionist style and a master watercolorist. Standing in his studio, visitors can look out over the family’s garden and the city of Lancaster to see the very same views that inspired Demuth’s paintings.

ABOUT

The Demuth Museum offers a wholly unique experience of Charles Demuth's artistic life and his groundbreaking artworks through its collections, exhibitions and educational programs. Charles’ ancestor, Christopher Demuth, started the Tobacco Shop at 114 E. King Street in 1770. Charles’ father, Ferdinand, and his uncle, Henry, co-ran the shop from 1906 until Ferdinand's death in 1911. It was due to the financial success of the business that Charles was able to study art at Drexel Institute and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia.

Ferdinand was an amateur photographer and young Charles would accompany his father to photograph local architecture, country scenes and the circus. The influence of photography’s inherent cropping of an image can be seen in the formal elements of some of Charles’ work. Because Charles was a sickly child, his mother Augusta doted on him, hiring local artists to come to the home and teach him china painting, pyrography, and still life and landscape painting. Augusta’s locally-famous garden, with red bricks laid in chevron patterns that are still visible today, provided subject matter for Demuth's early sketchbooks and also served as inspiration for Demuth's more mature works. Demuth hosted close friend and artist Georgia O’Keeffe at his home during her visits to Lancaster.

As a young man, Charles made three trips to Paris, as well as a trip to Bermuda. A part of the avante-garde artistic scene in America, he spent many summers in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and winters in New York City. He received much inspiration for his artwork and the Precisionist style due to these interactions. Though plagued by illness all his life, he produced over a thousand works of art, mostly in the studio in his Lancaster “chateau” including the well-known My Egypt, which was inspired by grain elevators in Lancaster, and The Figure 5 in Gold in homage to his friend, American poet William Carlos Williams.

Did you know...?

There is often confusion about how to pronounce Charles Demuth’s last name. This stems from the artist himself, who pronounced his name one way while at home in Lancaster, with the emphasis on the second syllable, and another way when in New York City with other artists and writers, with the emphasis on the first syllable.

SPECIAL RESOURCES

Permanent collection of over 40 Demuth works.
Library collection focused on American art history and American Modernism Archives.

WHAT TO DO HERE

  • Self-guided tour of museum, studio and garden.
  • Visit Demuth’s Tobacco Shop, founded by Charles Demuth’s ancestors and still in business.
  • Guided tours of exhibitions available with reservations.

YOU CAN ALSO SEE THE ART HERE:

  • Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia, PA
  • Museum of Modern Art, New York
  • Whitney Museum of Art, New York