"I Can't Sleep" by John McCrady

John McCrady (1911–1968)
I Can't Sleep
Oil glaze over tempera on canvas
35½ x 47½ inches
Museum purchase: 1989.05.260

In 1936 John McCrady wrote a letter to fellow artist and friend Clyde Singer, describing the painting I Can't Sleep, on which he was currently working.

"I am cutting the building in two, showing the life inside as well as out. It's an interesting old place with patios and balconies. I'm showing myself on the ground floor, sitting up in bed with my hands over my ears trying to shut out the noise coming from a big party on the second floor. One of those parties given by Med. students. On the top attic floor a woman walks a bawling brat while her husband snores. Outside, the moon, stars, chimneys, smoke, etc. Sounds like too much stuff for one picture, but I think I have it fixed so I can handle it all."
— John McCrady

John McCrady spent much of his young life living in small towns and rural areas of Mississippi. When he settled in the French Quarter of New Orleans in 1932 he must not have been accustomed to the bustling and noisy life of city living. McCrady made his first sketch for I Can't Sleep in 1933 about a year after he had moved to the area. The painting was not completed until 1948.