George Biddle

American, 1885-1973


George Biddle, the founder of the WPA Federal Arts Program in the 1930s, was influenced by his circle of artist friends which included William Zorach, Elie Nadelman, Gaston Lachaise, and Diego Rivera. He became renowned as a muralist and painted scenes from his worldwide travels. On one of those journeys he experienced the stark beauty and drama of Utah’s desert country. In Mesquite and Sycamore: Valley of the Virgin River, Utah, Biddle suggests the electric atmosphere of an incoming storm. A sycamore tree on the left, and a mesquite on the right, serve to frame the work and lead the viewer’s eye to the mountains in the background and the turbulent clouds above. The danger of flash floods lurks in the desert, charging the scene further. Biddle deftly used crosshatched brush strokes to suggest the approaching rain and ignite the sky with movement.