The massive scale and stylized rendering of Working on the Road is somewhat of a departure for Hildebrandt, but may have been inspired by his wife Cornelia’s possible involvement in the Works Progress Administration during the 1930s in her home state of Wisconsin.
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Although her specific role is not known and Howard was seemingly never formally commissioned to create any artwork for the Federal Art Project division, the painting is reminiscent of many of the WPA murals created by painters struggling through the Great Depression that today can be found in libraries, post offices and government buildings throughout the country. Like those examples, Hildebrandt chose a construction theme to reflect the public works projects taking place throughout the country to combat unemployment and revitalize American infrastructure.
Private collection, Waltham, Massachusetts
With Vose Galleries, Boston, inventory no. 32271, December 1997
To private collection, Los Angeles, California, January 1999 to present
Previous Vose Galleries label, inventory no. 32271