Chronology

"At Five in the Afternoon," 1948–49, Casein and graphite on paperboard, 15 x 20 in. (38.1 x 50.8 cm)
[Late Autumn-Early December 1948]

Maria Motherwell departs abruptly for California ending their marriage. Either before or shortly after this split, Motherwell falls in love with another woman, Natica Waterbury, an employee of the Betty Parsons Gallery, who departs for Europe in early December with the painter Sonia Sekula.

Suffering the loss of both women in his life, Motherwell begins drinking heavily, and considers suicide. While in this state of mind, he comes across the illumination he had made for Rosenberg’s poem earlier that year and enlarges the black and white image. He gives the resulting painting–in casein on cardboard and measuring 15 x 20 inches–the title At Five in the Afternoon (W10), after the refrain of Federico García Lorca’s famous poem commemorating the death of a bullfighter, “Llanto por Ignacio Sánchez Mejías.” This small work is the first painted picture in the Elegy to the Spanish Republic series.

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