The Bread Line was likely painted in the early 1930s, at the onset of this transformative era, when those suddenly out of work or whose wages were greatly reduced came to rely on local charities to procure food for themselves and their families. As evidence of his strong color sense, Thal used the brick red and chalky granite tones of the city’s architecture and sidewalks as an unassuming backdrop, over which he strategically placed similar bright blue and green passages to guide the viewer’s eyes throughout the scene.
More information about this painting...
In both his paintings and etchings, Thal found inspiration among the people and sights he encountered while exploring the densely packed neighborhoods of Boston, the more agrarian environs of the suburbs, and the wharves and winding streets of Marblehead, Rockport, and Gloucester along Massachusetts’ North Shore. His imagery of Boston, specifically, bore clear social realist themes echoing the turbulent decades of the mid-20th century and their effect on the city’s middle and lower classes.
Today his paintings and etchings can be found in several museum collections, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Palmer Museum of Art at Pennsylvania State University, and the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh.
Private collection, Grosse Pointe, Michigan
To private collection, Natick, Massachusetts, March 2023
(verso of panel, in different inks) BREAD LINE / $1500.°° / By Sam Thal
(handwritten on piece of tape) MEDIUM / OIL PAINT