Charles Howard (1899–1978)

The Mother (Makes the Son) Plants the Seed

APG 8897.001

1937

Description

CHARLES HOUGHTON HOWARD (1899–1978)
The Mother (Makes the Son) Plants the Seed, 1937
Gouache and pencil on paper, 10 3/8 x 14 5/8 in.
Signed, dated, and inscribed (at lower right): CHH [in lower-case conjoined script] ’37; (in pencil, on the back): The mother (makes the son) plants the seed. 

EX COLL.: the artist; to private collection, and by descent, until 2015

This gouache, with its enigmatic title, is a work of Howard’s first London period, executed in 1937. In 1942, Howard cautioned against overthinking his titles: “The titles appended to these pictures are supplementary and allusive. They have no other function” (as quoted in Miller, ed., Americans 1942, p. 76). A clearly identifiable garden spade, as well as a large seed pod and a smaller acorn reference the title. More amorphous shapes suggest human presence, including a distinctly surrealistic duo of (presumably) mother’s fingers complete with painted black fingernails. The style is vintage Howard, a rhythmic composition of evocative shapes conveyed with sharp clarity and strong, pleasing color contrasts. 

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