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Dorothy Stafford (American 1902 – 1986)

The Hand of Industry, 1944, oil on canvas, 25 x 27 inches, exhibited at the 56th Annual of the Society of Chicago Painters, July, 1945, at Findlay Galleries; titled and exhibition history indicated in pencil (verso); remnants of exhibition labels (verso). Referenced in Jewett, Eleanor, Life on Home Front Theme of Art Show, The Chicago Tribune, July 22, 1945


About the Painting

In 1916, expressing the conventional, pro-industry sentiment of the country, Calvin Coolidge said, “The man who builds a factory builds a temple, . . . the man who works there worships there, and to each is due, not scorn and blame, but reverence and praise.” Several decades later during World War II, Stafford draws on this theme in her work, The Hand of Industry. She depicts the worker-priest turning the crank of the United States’ industrial might, which was arguably the most significant factor in the Allies’ victory in the conflict. Writing for the Chicago Tribune, Eleanor Jewett, cited The Hand of Industry as one of the “well handled” works at the 56th Annual Society of Chicago Painters Exhibition with the theme “The Artist Looks at the Home Front.”

About the Artist Dorothy Stafford spent her early career in Chicago where she explored the American Scene in a cubist and expressionist style. She attended the University of Michigan from 1920-21 and studied privately with the artist Rudolph Weisenborn, who deeply influenced her work. Stafford exhibited at The Art Institute of Chicago and the Chicago No-Jury Society of Artists in the 1940s and 1950s. She had gallery representation though Findlay Galleries in Chicago and had a one woman show at the Paul Theobald Gallery, also Chicago in 1944. For nearly twenty-five years, she regularly exhibited with the Chicago Society of Artists and contributed lino-cuts to the organization’s annual calendars. Stafford later moved to Stuart, Florida where she formed an “Art Associates” group and maintained a studio and exhibition space called the “Little Louvre,” where she supported and taught artists and helped support the development of the local arts scene. During her time in Florida, she exhibited with a number of organizations, including the Palm Beach Art League.


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