American, 1909-1977


1937, oil on canvas
signed and dated Abercrombie 37 lower center
28 3/4 x 40 in., frame: 30 3/4 x 42 in.

  • Provenance: From the artist to her friend, a fellow student in Chicago; by descent within his family to a Massachusetts Lady.

    Gertrude Abercrombie's illusory landscapes reflect her involvement in Chicago's Hyde Park arts scene as well as the influence of the European movement of Surrealism. Her strong American and female voice was celebrated in the otherwise European and male-dominated Surrealist movement. The artist famously said, "It is always myself that I paint" and in many ways her entire oeuvre can be seen as a collection of self-portraits. Her eerily desolate landscapes often include self-portraits and other recurring personal objects such as cats, brooms, ladders and hats which Abercrombie identifies with herself. In this way, her practice is rooted in both realism and dream. As she remarked, "Surrealism is meant for me because I am a pretty realistic person but don't like all I see. So I dream that it is changed. Then I change it to the way I want it. It is almost always pretty real. Only mystery and fantasy have been added. All foolishness has been taken out. It becomes my own dream."

    After completing her undergraduate studies in romance languages in 1929, Abercrombie studied figure drawing at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. By 1932, she had focused her efforts on painting, and exhibited her work with independent Chicago galleries in the first half of the decade. Slaughterhouse was painted in 1937, while Abercrombie was employed as a Works Progress Administration artist (1934-1940), a significant period during which she found new creative and financial freedom. This work is a key example of her early style, for which she won prizes in 1936 and 1938 at the Art Institute of Chicago's Annual Exhibition of Works by Artists of Chicago and Vicinity, and it relates closely to the 20 x 24 in. view of the same subject, now in the collection of the Smithsonian. Both works depict the same slaughterhouse ruins in Aledo, Illinois, a small town where Abercrombie lived as a child. Though it is much larger in scale than the miniscule works typical of her mature period, Slaughterhouse's desolate motif and muted color palette can be understood as direct precursors to these later works. The newly re-discovered work has been in the collection of a friend and fellow artist of Abercrombie's since soon after it was painted.
  • Condition: Minor stable craquelure throughout. Stripe of inpainting in sky along right edge (likely from frame rub). One small area of inpainting in upper left corner of sky.

    Please note: All property is sold "AS IS" and any statement, whether oral or written, is given as a courtesy and shall not be deemed as a guarantee, warranty, or representation of the authenticity of authorship, physical condition, size, quality, rarity, importance, provenance, exhibitions, literature or historical relevance of the property or otherwise. The absence of a condition report does not imply the item is in perfect condition.

Accepted Forms of Payment:

Money Order / Cashiers Check, Personal Check, Wire Transfer


A list of recommended shippers can be found on our website. Please contact the shipper directly to get quotes and to make arrangements for them to pick up your items at our gallery. The shipper should contact us to make an appointment to pick up the items and purchasers should also call the gallery to authorize release of the items to the shipper.

November 5, 2022 11:00 AM EDT
Boston, MA, US

Grogan & Company

You agree to pay a buyer's premium of up to 25% and any applicable taxes and shipping.

View full terms and conditions

Bid Increments
From: To: Increments:
$0 $999 $100
$1,000 $1,999 $100
$2,000 $4,999 $250
$5,000 $9,999 $500
$10,000 $19,999 $1,000
$20,000 $49,999 $2,500
$50,000 $99,999 $5,000
$100,000 + $10,000