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Virginia Cuthbert (1908-2001), Mental Hospital, 1942; oil on canvas, 30 x 40 inches (frame: 43 1/4 x 33 inches); Gift of Robert D. Eldred, 2015

Virginia Cuthbert (1908-2001), Mental Hospital, 1942; oil on canvas, 30 x 40 inches (frame: 43 1/4 x 33 inches); Gift of Robert D. Eldred, 2015

Artist's statement: The Buffalo State Hospital was designed by H. H. Richardson. Interested as I was by his work, and moving to Buffalo in 1941 from Pittsburgh, where Richardson's great buildings, the Allegheny Court House and Jail, are represented in most textbooks on American Architecture, I discovered his contribution to this area. It is an impressive architectural phenomenon, certainly deserving preservation and care. As an artist I feel the building to be ominous, especially in the winter snow and dark sky, and the hopelessness of the sick people under the Romanesque weight of the towers. I painted the painting you see here in the early winter of 1942 before the new buildings were built. They, unfortunately, were not designed by a brilliant architect. "Institutional" architecture might be better and perhaps that's the way it should be. I would prefer in future buildings a brilliant architectural combination of the two divergent styles.