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Dockyard

1943-1950 (probably)
Origin: America, New York, New York (probably)
Unframed: 16" X 20" and Framed: 21 7/16" x 25 5/8"
Oil on academy board
Gift of Ellin and Baron Gordon
Acc. No. 2000.102.1
A dockyard scene, with the prows of several ships lined up to the right, large pieces of equipment in the foreground, and groups of men scattered throughout. Several cranes are evident.
The frame is a post-1996 replacement, i.e., added by the Gordons following their 1997 acquisition of the painting.
Label:A sense of drama pervades Victor Joseph Gatto's subjects, whether they are strictly imagined or derived from everyday life like this lower Manhattan waterfront view. The painter attained sudden renown in the 1940s when collectors and dealers first saw his work as verification of the vitality of contemporary folk art.

Fame affected neither Gatto's customary roustabout lifestyle nor his dedication to his art, however. Proud and convinced of his own genius but also suspicious and antagonistic, Gatto alienated many who might have enhanced his artistic success.
Provenance:A label on the back of the painting indicates it was once held by the James Vigeveno Galleries in Los Angeles, CA. Purchased by the Gordons (AARFAM's donors) at Sotheby's, NYC, Jan. 19, 1997, sale no. 6957, lot no. 1793 ("Property of various owners").
Mark(s):A part-printed, part-typed label on the back of the painting reads "JAMES VIGEVENO GALLERIES/JOSEPH V. GATTO/'SHIPS'/WESTWOOD HILLS LOS ANGELES". A printed label on the back of the frame reads "CUSTOM PICTURE FRAMING/The Regina Shop Williamsburg, Virginia". A self-adhesive label on the back of the frame reads "1793/6940". A brass paque on the front lower member of the frame reads "GATTO/SHIPS AT ATTENTION".
Inscription(s):Signed in white paint in script at lower right "victor Joseph Gatto". Signs and labels appear on various objects within the painted composition; some of these are illegible, or partly so. On a large spool (of steel cable?) in the foreground is "U. S. STEEL CORPERATION." (sic). On a building in the background is "SAFETY FIRST". A white sign on top of the blue building at far right includes the wording "KEEL LAID/OCT 1943". Other wording may be legible but has not been transcribed here.