This oil on canvas painting from a late mid-century master is an excellent example of primitive Americana folk art, comparable to Grandma Moses. Erwin Neusch (b. 1892), like his father before him, was a wood carver who started his work by doing church pews. After an illness in 1943, he was no longer able to continue in this work and he opened an antique shop, where he also did painting restoration, in New York City. At the age of 72, he began to paint! He continued this activity until his death at 100 in 1993.
Neusch was interested in early American life and so his style is reminiscent of those painters from the 19th C. His scenes often depict rural and maritime life in the new nation. Living in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and New York City, this scene depicts a creek in the backwoods of either the Hudson River Valley or Delaware River Valley. Three trees hide a classic red wooden barn. A creek separates these structures, with three people swimming in the stream. One person climbs a tree. Another jumps rope. Some others are tossing a ball. "The Old Swimming Hole" gives a snapshot of outdoor summertime recreation in the infant nation. Neusch's signature can be detected to the bottom right. The canvas truly captures the American spirit and celebrates its mastery of the once threatening wilderness. The brown frame is sturdy and complements the artwork beautifully. Such a painting would make a wonderful addition to any collection of American art.
14 in. x 18 in.