Watercolor by Dos Passos
Original Author: Watercolor by John Dos Passos; note written by his wife, Katherine Smith Dos Passos
Created: ca. 1929–1937
Medium: Watercolor on hotel stationery
Publisher: University of Virginia Special Collections

Watercolor by Dos Passos

This watercolor by the novelist John Dos Passos depicts a humorous scene of New York City overrun by tadpoles; it illustrates a note to Patrick Murphy, son of Sara and Gerald Murphy. The Murphys were well-known socialites in the 1920s and 1930s who befriended artists and writers of the so-called Lost Generation, Dos Passos among them. Patrick Murphy had contracted tuberculosis and this light-hearted letter, which was accompanied by a gift of an Aztec idol, was an attempt to encourage him during his illness. After an eight-year struggle, Patrick died in 1937 at the age of sixteen.