Beatrice Cuming, “Chubb”, 1941, Oil on Canvas, Lyman Allyn Art Museum
The early 20th century in the United States was a time of rapid expansion and industrialization fueled in part by waves of immigration. A decade of exuberance followed World War I before the stock market crash of 1929 initiated the Great Depression of the 1930s. Abstraction and European modernism filtered into American art, while a realistic, regional style simultaneously held sway, resulting in a mix of subjects and styles.
Many artists were drawn to the energy and bustle of the modern city, awash in crowds and transformed by industry, skyscrapers and the automobile. Beatrice Cuming’s painting, “Chubb”, shows a submarine being built in the Groton, Connecticut shipyard during World War II. Cuming’s canvas affirmed New London’s long connection to the sea and celebrated industry at a time when the nation was consumed with the war effort.