Signed and dated at lower right: "Francis Speight/'63"
Label on stretcher: "SCHURS LANE"
Stamp on stretcher: "BABCOCK/Galleries/20 East 67th Street, New York 10021"
Francis Speight was born on a farm near Windsor in Bertie County, North Carolina. He attended Wake Forest College for two years, and early in 1920 briefly studied at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, D.C. He transferred to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia later that year to study with Daniel Garber. Speight took classes at the Academy from1920 until 1925, when he accepted a teaching position there that he held until 1961, when he returned to North Carolina to become artist-in-residence at East Carolina College (now East Carolina University) in Greenville. He retired in 1976 and died in Greenville.
During the middle 1920s Speight began to paint the subjects for which he is best known, realist views of the tenements, factory buildings and landscapes of Manayunk, a hilly industrial area overlooking the Schuylkill River northwest of Philadelphia. Speight said that he was “fascinated by the height and depth of the landscape” and noted that “it was always stimulating to stand and look across the valley and paint the rich mosaics of houses on the distant hill, the river, the foreground sloping toward the river or turn and look up at the houses and trees, so often seen against the blue sky and white clouds.” Shurs Lane offers a fine example of the type of subject Speight was typically known for.
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