Oil on canvas board
9 1/2 x 15 5/8 inches
Signed on the verso
Helen Torr was an important early American modernist painter, although her more famous husband, Arthur Dove, has overshadowed her reputation. Affectionately called “Reds,” Torr was born in 1886 in Philadelphia. She studied drawing at Drexel University and enrolled at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art where she took instruction from Thomas Anshutz and William Merritt Chase.
Beginning in 1924, Torr and Dove lived on their yawl, the Mona, moored in Halesite, New York. The idyllic coastal town on the North Shore of Long Island provided them with ample inspiration for the paintings made during the nine years of their residence. Impromptu was painted in 1929 during Torr’s prolific period in Halesite. The abstract composition shows a balance of rhythm and control in muted shades of maroons, olives, and grays. Impromptu was exhibited in 1933 alongside Dove’s work at Stieglitz’s An American Place gallery.