Victorian Still Life

bowler lilies and shell@3x.jpg

Dublin Core



Half a dozen lily flowering tulips are depicted in a milk glass vessel known as a “hand vase,” a popular design during the 1870s-80s. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Bowler’s composition is how a soft opalescence is carried across a conch shell, the vase, the flowers, and even the wall behind his still life. Note: for several decades this painting had been mislabeled as Bowler’s Lilies and Shell.

About the Artist:
Born in Syracuse, NY Bowler attended the Syracuse University College of Fine Arts and there received a postgraduate award for study in Paris. He was best known for painting official portraits of prominent political, military, and theatrical figures such as dancers Ruth St. Denis and Michel Fokine; humorist Will Rogers, actor Vincent Price, and explorer/author Richard Halliburton. Bowler also traveled to Washington, D.C. to paint portraits of Secretary of State Cordell Hull and Vice President John Nance Garner, among others. But Bowler also was passionate about landscapes and still lifes. A 1940 newspaper article implies that his two works at NDG were part of “a series of flower paintings done for all the tuberculosis hospitals in New York” (Allentown, PA Morning Call 31 Mar. 1940: 16). During World War II, Bowler served as Director of Design for a camouflage section of the 909th Air Force Engineers, organizing a 1943 show of their work at Macy’s Department store. It was after a 32-mile training hike that he painted a well-known image entitled “After the Hike”—a picture of his worn pair of army shoes—that was exhibited in the Library of Congress. Bowler also served as director of an arts program for the American Red Cross and as a USO portrait artist during the war (Syracuse Herald-Journal 23 July 1965: 14). After 1945 Bowler continued to live and work in Bucks County, PA. A critic attending the Phillips’ Mill Art Exhibition wrote that he had “all the majesty and power of great people who see great movements and think great things. A realist, his ‘Little Red Barn’ is characterized by a sensitive brush, a direct approach, rich colors and mellow overtones and an uninhibited technique — all contributing to the aching loveliness of this farm scene” (Muhlenberg Weekly 14 Oct. 1948: 2). In addition to producing many paintings, Bowler was an art teacher for much of his professional life. 1 work at Smithsonian American Art Museum. 3 works at Michener Art Museum. 2 more images at FAP.


Bowler, Harold








Still Image Item Type Metadata

Original Format

Oil painting

Physical Dimensions

23.5 x 29.5 in.
Condition: dented, surface dirt, paint flaked