‘Just Moved’ by American painter Henry Mosler shows a family relaxing together after having moved their belongings into their new home. Located in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, this is a wonderfully detailed piece which provides an interesting portrait of its subjects, allowing us to see their most important possessions before they’ve been properly arranged throughout the space. For those who don’t live in a studio, when was the last time you were observed in the same room as your kitchenware, mattress and washer? Folks with the available space usually keep these items these items in separate areas, distributing their activities and necessities throughout their quarters. ‘Just Moved’ presents this family’s belongings in one single image, allowing the range of household items to speak for their tastes and living conditions.
This dwelling could use some repair, but it’s nonetheless acceptable by working class standards. In the far upper left corner we can see broken glass in the transom. Above the coat rack some of the wall appears to be chipping away. And I can’t ignore the black exhaust seen around the hole used for the stove pipe. These are minor damages which could be amended with a little paint and some manual labor, however they provide helpful insight regarding the social status of this family.
The father certainly looks relaxed, sitting on the table while resting his feet on the stove. Having hung up his coat and relaxed down his suspenders, he’s ready to enjoy a beer while sharing a loaf of bread with his family. I find it very quaint how the baby is reached up toward him while cradled in his mother’s arms.
I really enjoy Mosler’s rendering of the stove, seen on the floor along with its legs and pipes. Despite the stove’s black finish, within the lights I notice a slight pink reflected from the wife’s dress.
Another detail I admire is artist’s signature, which is seen in the bottom right, written with the perspective if it were etched into the floorboard.
On a final note, I keeping circling back to the scenic painting hung on the wall. I would presume the family put this piece up shortly upon entry—sort of like throwing down an anchor when a ship arrives at its destination—before moving their other belongings inside. Obviously this home offers them new sights from outside their window, but they’ll still have the familiar scenic image seen in the painting, carried over from their former residence.
Or maybe the previous occupants simply left the painting behind for the next poor suckers. With that in mind, who knows how long it’s been hanging in that spot, reluctantly endured by tenant after tenant.
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