Evocative pastel on paper depicting part of the NY City skyline including the iconic building in the blue evening light. Undated, 1930s. Signed lower left. 10.5 x 13 inches (26.5 x 33 cm.) (visible), set in a period gilt mat and frame, 19.5 x 22 inches (49.5 x 56 cm.) overall. Unexamined out of frame, in apparently fine condition.
Born in Providence, Rhode Island, DeVoll graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1896 at the age of twenty-three and left Providence for New York City, where he studied with some of the most important American artists of his time, including William Merritt Chase, Charles Hawthorne, and Robert Henri. Henri's style in particular, part of the Ashcan School with a focus on painting scenes of everyday life in new York City and from life as often as possible, influenced DeVoll’s work for the rest of his life. In 1906 or 1907, DeVoll left America for a trip to Europe, and he briefly studied at the Académie Julian in Paris. When DeVoll returned from Europe later in 1907, he settled back in Providence, but frequently traveled all over New England to work and show his art. Notices in the American Art News describe him working in the Berkshires in Massachusetts, exhibiting in Boston, and spending time painting landscapes throughout Connecticut. He also routinely traveled to New York City, and it is the paintings and pastel drawings he made of New York City streets and harbors that DeVoll is remembered most for today. In 1929, DeVoll had a solo exhibition at the Syracuse Museum of Fine Arts (today the Everson Museum), Exhibition of Pastels of New York Street and Harbor Subjects by F. Usher DeVoll.
The 102-story Art Deco skyscraper in Midtown Manhattan, New York City was designed by Shreve, Lamb & Harmon and built from 1930 to 1931. Its name is derived from "Empire State", the nickname of the state of New York. The Empire State Building stood as the world's tallest building until the construction of the World Trade Center in 1970.