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American Art Meets Desperate Housewives
December 1, 2006

A still from Desperate Housewives

SAAM's The Girl I Left Behind Me by Eastman Johnson graces the wall of Bree's home in an episode of Desperate Housewives.

I was watching a backlog of Desperate Housewives episodes on TiVo the other evening and suddenly I noticed something familiar. When Bree is confronting her new husband Orson, there in the background hangs The Girl I Left Behind Me by Eastman Johnson. The original painting hangs in SAAM's second floor galleries.

We at SAAM like to make our artworks accessible, but this "placement" was a new one for us. The gallery label for the painting states:

Eastman Johnson imagined a soldier's wife standing on the hill where they parted. The crimson lining of her wind-whipped cape suggests their passionate love for one another, while her wedding ring, appearing almost at the center of the painting, ensures the young bride's devotion.

Knowing that nothing in Hollywood happens by accident, I wonder if the writers were making an editorial statement? In this scene Bree ultimately reconciles with her new husband—an interesting way of weaving American art into our weekly visits to Wisteria Lane.

With that possibility in mind, I'd like to suggest additional American art placements from our collection for the rest of the cast. Susan, who almost made it to Paris with her boyfriend Ian, might enjoy Jardin du Luxembourg by Loïs Mailou Jones. If her daughter's welfare prevents her from getting to France, this would be the next best thing.

Poor Lynette who has had to endure her husband Tom's long-term quest for his dream job plus the out-of-the-blue arrival of his former girlfriend, Nora (and her untimely death in this very episode), might enjoy John Hultberg's Road through the Labyrinth. Edie, that vixen, would appreciate Stuart Davis' Babe La Tour hanging on her wall when her next beau comes to call.

And finally, Gabrielle. What will become of her? Perhaps Philip Evergood's Dowager in a Wheelchair might remind her that ultimately true happiness is not defined by what we possess, but by who we love.

Mary Alice, our dearly departed narrator on DH, couldn't have said it better.

Posted by Jeff on December 1, 2006 in American Art Here


I love this post! Identifying art placements in film is a fun past-time for some of us.

There's a scene in one of the Batman films when the Joker (Jack Nicholson) and his crew are wrecking Marinetti-type havoc in a museum ("We will destroy the museums, libraries, academies of every kind, will fight moralism, feminism, every opportunistic or utilitarian cowardice."). The Joker suddenly pauses before a Francis Bacon and says: "I kind of like this one, Bob. Leave it."

There ought to be a Web site devoted to this subject. And there is: Art Historians Guide To The Movies!

The Art Historians' Guide to the Movies is a record of appearances of and references to famous works of art and architecture in the movies. It is intended to be a source for teachers of art history who are considering showing clips or entire films as part of their presentation of the traditional arts of painting, sculpture, and architecture. Citations are arranged in (very) approximate chronological order of the artworks, not the movies (the order I deemed most useful for teachers looking for sources on particular art-historical subjects).

Art History in on shows is great. Especially art enthusiasts and art students. I am evaluating the Desperate Housewives intro. Also Gabby's stair case with the Warhol-like paintings of herself is also great.

Rock on with the Art work!!!

I would like to know the artist who did the Warhol-like painting of Gabby. Also, is there a Web site that has this picture for me to get a closer look.

Catherine, the painting I recommended for Gabby is by Phillip Evergood. We have some biographical information on him on our Web site.

Does anyone know where i can find a picture of the pop art along Gabrielle's staircase?

Amanda, if you're referring to the Gabrielle's present house (this post was written a couple years ago), I don't know. Sorry. You might post your query on one of the Desperate Housewives forums.

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