Metcalf’s use of pointillist strokes to suggest falling snow—the “veil” of the title—and the soft tonalist palette made this one of his most popular paintings, much praised by contemporary critics and art lovers alike. The square shape of the canvas adds to the sense of quiet and serenity that Metcalf sought in his work. Blue violet underpainting dotted with red unifies the composition and lends an unexpected warmth to the gray winter light. Metcalf spent the first of many winters in Cornish, New Hampshire, in 1909. This painting is one of two nearly identical canvases with the same title painted during this period.
Artist Willard Leroy Metcalf, American, 1858-1925
Title
  • The White Veil
Date 1909
Medium oil on canvas
Dimensions Unframed: 36 × 36 inches (91.4 × 91.4 cm)
Framed: 49 1/2 × 49 7/16 × 2 3/4 inches (125.7 × 125.6 × 7 cm)
Credit Line Gift of Charles Willis Ward
Accession Number 15.12
Department American Art before 1950
On View American W292, Level 2 (see map)
Signed Signed and dated, lower left corner: W. L. Metcalf '09
Charles Willis Ward
1915-present, gift to the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)
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A Collection of Oil Paintings by Mr. Willard L. Metcalfe [sic]. Exh. cat., City Art Museum. St. Louis, 1911, no. 2.

Exhibition of Paintings by Willard L. Metcalf. Exh. cat., John Herron Art Institute. Indianapolis, 1911, no. 2.

Special Exhibition of Landscapes by Mr. Willard L. Metcalf. Exh. cat., Cincinnati Art Museum. Cincinnati, 1911, no. 2.

Inaugural Exhibition. Exh. cat., Museum of Art. Toledo, 1912, no. 67.

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American Beauty: Painting and Sculpture from the Detroit Institute of Arts, 1770-1920. Exh. cat., Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, 2002, pp. 96-97, no. 70 (ill.).