This beautiful but desolate lakeside scene is an excellent example of Hughie Lee-Smith's painting from the early 1950s. This Detroit period was critical in the formation of Lee-Smith's oeuvre - a body of work in which he found his own voice and gained national recognition. Lee-Smith earned his bachelor's degree in fine art from Detroit's Wayne State University in 1953. That year, his painting The Piper won top prize at the Detroit Institute of Art and was purchased for the museum collection.
Lee-Smith's experiences on the shores and beaches of Michigan and Ontario shaped this key stage of his paintings. Unspecific and largely created from his imagination, Lee-Smith's scenes reflect the existentialism of youth in the 1950s. His scenes often revolve around an isolated central figure - here a young woman is silhouetted against the ruins of a house like an actor on a stage. Lee-Smith beautifully defines the space and mood with many of his signature elements: a coiled wire, brick walls, wire suspended between poles, a boat on the horizon and a beautiful but forbidding sky of cumulus clouds.