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From My Spring Garden

From My Spring Garden

Artist: Rebecca Salsbury James (1891 London, England - 1968 Taos, New Mexico)

Department: Art
Date: 1941
Medium: reverse painted oil on glass
10 1/8 x 13 7/8 in. (25.7 x 35.2 cm)
Classification: Painting
Credit Line: Albuquerque Museum, museum purchase, 1991 General Obligation Bonds
Object number: PC1993.6.1
DescriptionImage of three tulips in a yellow vase. Background is white.
On view
Label Text:James began making reverse painted glass paintings after she once turned her glass palette upside down and noticed how the paint on her palette glowed incandescently when seen from the other side. Reverse painting on glass is difficult because the foreground must be completed before the background — in a sense it’s like painting backward, and mistakes aren’t easily corrected. From My Spring Garden contains the luminous quality that James strove for. In her early days as a painter, James often struggled with “smears” and “blobs” in her paintings, and longed to create paintings more like O’Keeffe’s, which she envied for their “neatness.” In this work, she fully achieved it herself.

A close friend of Georgia O’Keeffe and member of the “Stieglitz Circle,” Rebecca Salsbury James first arrived in Taos in 1926, eventually moving there permanently. As a child, James traveled with her father Nate Salsbury, creator and manager of “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West”, a popular circus-like show which romanticized western life. It was likely due to the show’s influence, and James’ ingrained ideas of western freedom, that she found herself especially at peace in Taos. James’ strong need to create inspired her to begin painting despite a lack of art training. In addition to creating her unique paintings on glass, James was also an accomplished colcha embroiderer. Also dabbling in poetry and photography, James’ many talents were once referred to as an “embarrassment of riches,” by Alfred Stieglitz.

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