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Ancient Bird and Mummified Bird

Leon Kelly, American, 1901 - 1982

Made in United States, North and Central America


Oil on canvas

31 3/8 × 21 11/16 inches (79.7 × 55 cm)

© Paula Kelly Miller

Curatorial Department:
American Art

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Purchased with the Edith H. Bell Fund and the J. Stogdell Stokes Fund, 2007

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This painting is a stunning illustration of Leon Kelly's mature Surrealist style. The mysterious composition shows two birds and a cocoon-like figure, their musculature carefully delineated in muted red, green, and blue tones against an almost completely blank yet intriguing background. Kelly's distinctive painting technique reflects his interest in the work of the old masters and his close study of anatomy and dissection. He is the only Philadelphia artist to have been associated and shown with the Surrealists, and Ancient Bird and Mummified Bird is a quintessential example of American Surrealism at its very best.