Two Rivers, 1942
Tempera on board
13 x 26 inches
Signed and dated lower right
Peter Blume was an American painter and draftsman best known for his surreal, large-scale allegorical paintings from the 1930s and 1940s. Born in Russia in 1906, Blume immigrated to the United States when he was six years old and resided in Brooklyn. He was first introduced to art at the Educational Alliance, a program on the Lower East Side of New York for Jewish children. Through this organization, Blume visited art galleries and studios and soon developed an interest in modern art. He later took courses at the Beaux-Arts Institute of Design and the Art Students League of New York. In 1930, Blume settled in Sherman, Connecticut, an area that attracted a number of like-minded artists.
The present work is a detailed study for the Two Rivers mural in Rome, Georgia. Both the study and the mural depict a familiar scene for local residents of the small Georgia town: the convergence of the Oostanuala and the Etowah rivers. For this important commission, Blume visited Rome several times and sketched the local buildings and landscape. The final composition depicts a composite view of the landmark buildings, including the historic Floyd County Courthouse at center, and the iconic nineteenth century Clock Tower at the apex of the painting. The tightly grouped buildings and towering iron drawbridge are set against a red-hued landscape with the lush Appalachian Mountains in the distant. Beneath the mountains, Blume painted the former Celanese Textile Mill, which played an important role for Rome’s industrial history. Blume’s characteristic use of chiaroscuro and vivid, saturated colors heighten the otherwise placid scene.