This drawing in red pencil appears to have been splashed by black paint, possibly from the painting on either the third or eleventh page of this sketchbook (see Related Works on Paper). The pencil lines appear to be under the paint splatter, suggesting that this drawing was made prior to the paintings. Although the subject of the drawing is indecipherable, it contains echoes of the shape of an opened newspaper that appears in several quick sketches Rothko made of commuters in the New York subway at the end of the 1930s. This relationship, tenuous as it may be, establishes a tentative date for this drawing that is earlier than the watercolor pages and suggests that Rothko did not necessarily begin working in this sketchbook from the first page.
Mark Rothko: Works on Paper will ultimately document approximately 2,600 works from public and private collections worldwide. Cataloging is ongoing, and works and information will be added to the site during the coming years.