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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

The Genesis of Life Lay Deep and Anticipant Under the Sky

Photo: Elizabeth Mann

The Genesis of Life Lay Deep and Anticipant Under the Sky


Morris Graves

born Fox Valley, Oregon, 1910; died Loleta, California, 2001

Graves’ reference is to Beryl Markham’s deeply poetic account of her life in Africa, published in 1942, in which she saw the realm of pure nature as governed by fundamental life forces:

You could expect many things of God at night when the campfire burned before the tents. You could look through and beyond the veils of scarlet and see shadows of the world as God first made it and hear the voices of the beasts He put there. It was a world as old as Time, but as new as Creation’s hour had left it. . . . It held the genesis of life and lay deep and anticipant under the sky.

Beryl Markham, West With the Night, 1942

Ink and transparent and opaque watercolor on paper
26 3/4 x 52 1/2 in. (67.9 x 133.4 cm)
Gift of the Marshall and Helen Hatch Collection, in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Seattle Art Museum
Provenance: The artist, to [Willard Gallery, New York]; sold to Marshall (1918-2008) and Helen (died 1996) Hatch, Seattle, Washington, probably around June 1987; by bequest to Seattle Art Museum, 2008
Photo: Elizabeth Mann
Not currently on view


Exhibition HistorySeattle, Seattle Art Museum, Modernism in the Pacific Northwest: The Mythic and the Mystical, June 19-Sept. 7, 2014. Text by Patricia Junker. No cat. no., reproduced p.83, pl. 45.

Seattle Art Museum respectfully acknowledges that we are on Indigenous land, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. We honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future.

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