Met Custom Prints

Nellie Mae Rowe

Empty Chair, 1981

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About the Artwork

Empty Chair, 1981. Nellie Mae Rowe. Graphite, crayon, and pastel on paper. Gift of Souls Grown Deep Foundation from the William S. Arnett Collection, 2014. © 2022 Nellie Mae Rowe / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.The artist reflects on her own mortality in Empty Chair. A female figure in a matching red hat and shirt, a surrogate for the painter, gazes upon a younger version of herself that hovers over an empty chair suggesting absence and loss. The older incarnation turns away from a Tree of Life flanked by a peaceful menagerie. Rowe’s complicated symbolic language frees her drawings from any fixed meaning or singular interpretation, allowing the viewer to meditate on the narrative and metaphorical possibilities embedded within each piece.

About the Artist

Born in Fayette County, Georgia, at the turn of the 20th century, Nellie Mae Rowe did not begin to make art until she was in her late forties. She initially used her front yard as a studio where she made decorations such as stuffed animals, life-size dolls, and chewing gum sculptures. When neighbors responded negatively to her outdoor installation she turned to drawings. In 1981 Rowe was diagnosed with cancer, and all four works by Rowe included in the museum’s gift collection from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation date from that year, the year before her death.

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About Our Prints

Met Custom Prints offers exclusive custom reproductions of artworks in The Met collection. Thanks to gallery-quality materials, we create prints as true to the original work as possible, using strict color management protocols and state-of-the-art printing technology.
This is the only place you’ll find reproductions approved by The Metropolitan Museum of Art. We are continually adding new artworks to our offering, so be sure to check back regularly as you build your own gallery. A variety of molding styles means our custom framed prints can match any type of decor.

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Met Members will receive their 15% discount for all Met Custom Prints purchases. If you are Member, when you check out enter your member ID and the last name associated with your membership; once your Membership has been validated, your discount will be applied. Member discounts cannot be combined with other offers.