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Night Work

Night Work, 1931, Lithograph
Mabel Dwight (American, ca. 1880 – 1955)

Mabel Dwight was an American artist who specialized in printmaking and received critical acclaim for her unique and compelling lithographic style. Dwight's work celebrated ordinary life, and the subjects of her lithographs were often everyday scenes or people depicted with humor and empathy. Although initially trained as a painter at Hopkins School of Art in San Francisco, Dwight later shifted to printmaking after she traveled to Paris and learned lithography. In 1918, Dwight joined the Whitney Studio Club founded by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, and in the 1930s she participated in the Federal Art Project. Her work was exhibited at galleries in New York City and her prints often offer vignettes of city life. Dwight gained popularity in the 1930s and 40s, and in 1936 Prints magazine named her one of the best living printmakers.

This lithograph depicts a Hopper-like scene in which the world around a single individual is quiet and still. At work, framed in an illuminated window, a person bends in concentration, perhaps a self-reflection of Dwight at work. Though dark, there is a serenity produced by the glowing light from just behind the edges of the buildings, suggesting that with an impending sunrise the world will once again begin to stir.