oil on canvas
United States
Unframed: 40 1/4 × 45 3/8 in. (102.24 × 115.25 cm)
Framed: 45 1/4 × 53 1/4 in. (114.94 × 135.26 cm)
Set in the otherwise dim back corner of a tavern, this painting highlights a large man playing the piano. He appears unaware of the nearby bartender, who is listening intently to the music. This poignant scene in an unremarkable yet familiar setting is representative of Paul Sample’s style, which in turn is typical of American scene painters. Sample and his colleagues, including Grant Wood and Thomas Hart Benton, rejected the abstractions of European modernism, preferring to depict scenes of everyday American life. After its exhibition at New York’s 1939 World’s Fair, Spring Song remained on view for half a century at Manhattan’s famous 21 Club.
Signed, lower left: "PAUL SAMPLE '38"
John Barton Payne Fund and the Arthur and Margaret Glasgow Fund
1938 - "International Exhibition of Paintings," Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, PA
1939 - "American Art Today," New York World's Fair, NYC
1940 - "135th Annual Exhibition," no. 256, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine
Arts, PA
"Annual Exhibition," no. 186, Art Institute of Chicago
1941 - "Paul Sample Retrospective Exhibition," Carpenter Galleries, Dartmouth
College, Hanover, NH
"Paintings in Oil by Paul S. Sample," no. 3, Vose Galleries, Boston, MA
1948 - "Paul Sample Retrospective Exhibition," The Currier Gallery of Art,
Manchester, NH
1963 - "Paul Sample Retrospective," no. 6, Hopkins Center, The Jaffe-Friede
Gallery, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH
1984 - "Paul Sample, Ivy League Regionalist," Lowe Art Museum, University of
Miami Florida, 1984
O’Leary, Elizabeth L., Sylvia Yount, Susan Jensen Rawles, and David Park Curry. American Art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Charlottesville: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts with the University of Virginia Press, 2010. (No. 125, p. 372-374).

“Acquisitions Highlights,” VMFA Annual Report, 2003-2004 (Richmond: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 2004), pp. 12-13.

Roy Proctor, “Virginia Museum acquires silver objects, paintings and prints,” Richmond Times-Dispatch (October 26, 2003), G-1, G-8, illus. G-1, image reversed).

Terrence Fagan, “And the Ban Played On,” Robb Report (November 2003), illus. p. 52.

H. Peter Kriendler and with H. Paul Jeffers, "21": Every Day was New Year's Eve, written (Dallas, Texas: Taylor Publishing Company, 1999), p. 107.

Hood Museum of Art, Paul Sample: Painter of the American Scene, exhib. cat. (Hanover, N.H.: Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, 1988), pp. 17-18, 25, n. 16.

Bill Cunningham, "Sample's Brush Does War Epics," Boston Herald (12 November 1943).

"Chicago Views State of American Art in its Annual," Art News XXXIX (16 Nov. 1940), p. 9, illus.

H. Peter Kriendler with H. Paul Jeffers, "21" Every Day Was New Year's Eve Memoirs of a Saloon Keeper (Dallas: Taylor Publishing Company) ref. p. 107.
© artist or artist’s estate

Some object records are not complete and do not reflect VMFA's full and current knowledge. VMFA makes routine updates as records are reviewed and enhanced.