This dour and static dinner on the grounds is Paul Sample’s Church Super. His take on his wife Sylvia’s hometown in Westmore, Vermont.
At a glance the supper is ordinary, but many details tell otherwise. Though the minister is calling the picnickers for grace, many are already eating. A very somber woman holds a tray, but no one is served from it. A sexy fashionable woman is the object of attention as she lifts her skirt to show her leg. A fat man seated at the table, being served by a woman, points in the direction of the blond, or is he pointing at the dowdy old woman holding a tray of food?
Even Sample’s colors are somber, greens, browns, tans, and creamy whites. The food is not a primary factor here. Sample’s emphasis on the social interactions mitigates the religious and spiritual aspects of the meal. It seems a critique of petty materialism. Only the children playing deep in the background have a sense of joy, perhaps because they do not know any better.
Featured Image: Look carefully to see if anyone smiles, even remotely. Paul Sample. Church Supper (1933), oil on canvas. Springfield, Massachusetts: Museum of Fine Arts:
See: Robert L. McGrath and Paula F. Glick. Paul Sample: Painter of the American Scene. Dartmouth: Hood Museum of Art, 1988