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American Paintings


10 AM, December 4, 2008

Sale 2058

"After the rain, Prouts Neck" by Homer

Lot 61, "After the Rain, Prouts Neck," by Winslow Homer, watercolor on paper, 15 by 21 1/2 inches, 1887

By Carter B. Horsley

This American Painting auction at Christie's December 4, 2008 is highlighted by several works consigned by the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington including large paintings by Thomas Cole and George Inness as well as good works from other collections including Martin J. Heade, Sanford Robinson Gifford, William Bradford, George L. K. Morris and Winslow Homer.

Lot 61 is a large watercolor on paper by Winslow Homer (1836-1910) entitled "After the Rain, Prouts Neck." It measures 15 by 21 1/2 inches and is dated 1887. It has an estimate of $2,500,000 to $3,500,000. It failed to sell.

Of the 186 lots offered 108 sold for $20,603,350. The 58 percent figure for lots sold was one percent lower than Sotheby's auction the day before, both extremely low percentages for major sales.

After the auction, Eric Widing, Head of American Paintings at Christie's, said that "We are cheered today by the overall success of our sale, which included four lots that exceeded $1 million," adding that "We set three new auction records for three important American painters: Henry Farny, Grant Wood, and John Lewis Krimmel. Bidders clearly responded to our efforts to set attractive estimates and sensible reserves. This brings to a close a very successful year for American Paintings at Christie's, in which we achieved our 3rd highest year ever with $105.1 million in sales."

The catalogue provides the following commentary:

"After the Rain, Prouts Neck is a masterwork that exemplifies Winslow Homer's exploration of nature through the media of watercolor. The picture superbly integrates delicately toned washes that typify Homer's best work in the medium. He has painted the brilliant summer sky with subtle variations of blue and gray hues leaving areas of the white paper bare for the billowing clouds while the foreground is filled with dynamic washes of blue, green and russet. These washes contrast with the heavy, darker tones of the trees, conveying the density of the area and darkness of the shadows and serve to separate the lighter, more transparent areas. Homer uses this application of watercolor in a way that was more brilliant than any other artist of the time. With his extraordinarily suggestive technique he was able to convey the atmosphere of the end of a wet and stormy day as the rain recedes and the light begins to filter through the surging clouds. The movement of these clouds, some of the most dramatic and beautiful Homer ever painted, also serve to unify the entire composition. After the Rain, Prouts Neck is a watercolor of extreme beauty and harmony that exemplifies his unparalleled ability to brandish the difficult medium of watercolor with emotional and technical bravura.

"Homer first traveled to Maine in July 1874 to visit his brother Arthur and his new wife during their honeymoon at the Willows Hotel in Prouts Neck. Homer went to the area periodically with his family during the following nine years and then moved from New York to Prouts Neck permanently in 1883. He found the secluded area to be a refuge from his busy life in New York where machines progressively came to dictate human activity. In Prouts Neck, men and women confronted the powers of nature firsthand in a timeless struggle in their daily life and work. 'Living at Prouts Neck Homer escaped the turmoil of the city, its complications, its disappointments, and its potentially problematic human relationships...Perhaps in contemplating the sea day in and day out he could forget himself and, to use Emerson's words, 'open his eyes to see things in a true light and in large relations.' (F. Kelly, Winslow Homer, Washington, D.C., 1995, p. 313) Homer's masterwork, After the Rain, Prouts Neck of 1887, is a reflection of this stark contrast and foreshadows the great theme of the relationship between man and nature that Homer would continue to address for the remainder of his career.

"The artist's sojourn to France from 1866 to 1867 instilled in his work the essentials of composition and technique, and endowed him with subject matter that translated into his oeuvre. The paintings Homer made in France are particularly closely modeled on those of the Barbizon masters. In their work he first discovered the subject of man against nature, a theme he eventually transposed from the French farmyard to Prouts Neck. In The Return of the Gleaner of 1867..., a French peasant woman stands stoically in a sun-drenched scythed wheat field. The oil shows a direct influence of the Barbizon school upon the artist's technique and subject matter. He adopted agricultural subject matter of workers in fields, and executed them with bold brushstrokes and simplified compositions, reduced to essential elements of color and detail, enforcing the directness and honesty of his subject matter.

"These characteristics were not new to Homer, though, as he had already established himself at home with the success and sale of his Civil War paintings such as The Veteran in a New Field (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York) of 1865. In the work, Homer reduces his subject matter and essential compositional elements to a minimum. A recent war veteran is shown reaping the harvest in a lush wheat field. The Veteran in a New Field is Homer's embarkation upon agricultural subject matter and the theme of man in nature.

"Homer's theme of men and women working is continued by A Basket of Clams (fig. 2, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York) which he painted in Gloucester in 1873. Rather than depicting the boys at play, they are working to collect their own food, presenting man's mortality, emphasized by the large, dead fish in the foreground. This was a theme he returned to throughout his career and is brilliantly manifested in After the Rain, Prouts Neck.

"In the spring of 1881, Winslow Homer made his second visit abroad, spending two seasons near Cullercoats, England, a fishing village on the North Sea. Homer was captivated by the residents of the village as they went about the daily activities that comprised their livelihood - carrying baskets laden with fish and hauling fishing boats up and down the beach. In Two Girls on the Beach, Tynemouth ..., Homer depicts two young girls carrying baskets dressed in clothing typical of England's northeast coast. Though they appear as young girls, Homer has painted them with a monumental quality that suggests a more serious tone. Behind them the fishing fleet is laid up along the water's edge, attended to by other members of the fishing community. Further in the distance more fishing boats ply the coast, their sails silhouetted on the light-filled horizon. Franklin Kelly writes of Homer's works from Cullercoats, 'Homer almost always sets up [an] emphatic juxtaposition between the realm of women (the shore) and that of men (the sea), charging them with suggestive symbolism....Even when the men are no longer physically on shore with the women their presence is still indicated by the boats....And it is this same duality of men and women who are at once united through their shared inextricable links to, and dependence on, the sea, but separated by their inevitably different relationships to it, that is at the heart of [these] works of Homer's English experience.' (Winslow Homer, pp. 181-82)

"The dramatic landscape and people of Prouts Neck proved to be a significant presence in Homer's paintings and a natural continuance of his work in England. After the Rain, Prouts Neck of 1887 is a superb work that demonstrates Homer's strongly rendered drawing style and captures the artist's reverence for the vastness of nature and those who worked on the land. In the work the viewer looks on as a couple returns from a day of labor: a man with a scythe and a woman carrying a basket with their child between them as their dog trails behind. Homer presents the entire family at work - the man working the land with his scythe and the woman collecting the harvest. This enduring theme is masterfully emphasized by the composition, rendering the figures diminutive to the landscape, transcribing the glorious elements of Prouts Neck which he manifests in strong horizontal bands of the sky, land and shore.

"The dramatically reduced compositional forms and subdued palette of After the Rain, Prouts Neck represent a radical transformation in Homer's work. The artist has limited the overall palette to cool grays and taupe seen in the shore, clouds and reflections in the foreground. He has deftly enlivened this subtle coloring with brilliant touches of red, seen in the woman's shirt, and the vibrant blue of the sky peeking through the clouds. The artist has skillfully modulated the washes in the sky to suggest clearing clouds as sunlight fills the sky with bright, clear light. In the reflection in the foreground, the brilliant blue sky sparkles with reflected light. The sky and reflection in the foreground are rendered with transparent washes that act as a foil to the richer pigment of the stand of trees, adding depth and density to the composition. The watery application of these washes embodies the brilliant watercolors that are the most celebrated of Homer's career.

"These bold and innovative aesthetic qualities recall the nocturnes of James McNeill Whistler, such as Nocturne: Blue and Gold--Old Battersea Bridge of 1872-73 and Nocturne: Blue and Silver - Chelsea (fig. 4) of 1871 (both: The Tate Gallery, London), which Homer may have seen in London on his way to Tynemouth. Homer might have found Whistler's refined tonalist sensibility engaging, as he himself had become disenchanted with his own work and had come to England to explore new artistic and expressive possibilities. After the Rain, Prouts Neck is a response to these possibilities in which Homer embraces a clear sense of the direction that his art would take. This progressive watercolor is a magnificently modern painting that expresses profound and timeless themes.

"In 1911 the painter Kenyon Cox wrote of Homer's work, 'in the end, he painted better in watercolors - with more virtuosity of hand, more sense of the right use of the material, more decisive mastery of its proper resources - than almost any modern has been able to do...The accuracy of his observation, the rapidity of his execution and the perfection of his technic [sic] increase together, and reach their highest value at the same moment. The one little square of paper becomes a true and a piece of perfect material beauty.' (as quoted in Winslow Homer, p. 296) After the Rain, Prouts Neck is exemplary of Cox's observations and remains one of Homer's most impressive and powerful works."

"Shepherd Girl Resting" by Homer

Lot 63, "Shepherd Girl Resting," by Winslow Homer, oil on canvas laid down on panel, 8 by 13 inches, circa 1878

Another Homer being offered in this auction is Lot 63, "Shepherd Girl Resting, a quite sketchy 1878 oil on canvas laid down on panel that measures by 13 inches. It was given by Charles S. Homer of Prouts Neck, Maine, to the Carnegie Institute in 1918 and subsequently was in the collection of Mrs. Edith Halpert of New York and then Babcock Galleries in New York. It has an estimate of $1,000,000 to $1,500,000. It failed to sell.

The catalogue provides the following commentary:

"The reclining shepherd girl in the present work is characterized by youthful innocence, pastoral beauty, and nostalgia for the simple rituals of rural American life. The mood is blithe and tranquil, reinforcing themes of feminine virtue and childhood naiveté. Winslow Homer explored the subject of contemplative, solitary female figures in nature while visiting his patron, Lawson Valentine, at the Valentine Family's Houghton Farm in Mountainville, New York during the summer of 1878. In the work, notions of rustic simplicity, beauty and virtue are enhanced by formal properties including the brightly contrasting hues of red, green and blue and the painterly quality of line. Homer paints the shepherd girl en plein air and she is depicted in a contemporary, rustic outfit as opposed to the Bo-Peep costume that Homer was also experimenting with during the late 1870s. This masterwork is a brilliant example from Homer's Houghton Farm series, distinguished by beautiful visual clarity, an exquisitely tactile surface, as well as the subtle, yet unmistakable, reference to the melancholic reverie of adolescence.

"In 1882 George W. Sheldon proclaimed, "Winslow Homer, indeed, never fully found himself until he found the American shepherdess." (Hours with Art and Artists, New York, 1882, p. 140) The latent symbolism embodied in the shepherd girl generates numerous layers of meaning. 'Scholars have speculated on Homer's lost love, and Homer's sadness or frustration may have been sublimated in the many scenes he painted of the solitary shepherdess, often in clinging attire.' (R. Wolterstorff, Winslow Homer in the 1870s: Selections from the Valentine-Pulsifer Collection, London, 1990, p. 65) The recumbent shepherd girl peacefully inhabiting an overgrown and uncultivated field evokes the spiritual power and raw force of nature that distinguish Homer's timeless American genre scenes.

"Homer's style of Realism is particularly notable because it embodies 'a technical naturalism derived from incisive observation, and a psychological veracity that describes the relations that sometimes exist between people.' (D. Nickel, Winslow Homer in the 1870s: Selections form the Valentine-Pulsifer Collection, London, 1990, p. 37) The present work is an exceptionally beautiful example as the young girl is in a state of solitary repose and idyllic agrarian simplicity. Her hand conceals her youthful face, obscuring her identity and shielding her eyes from the bright, midday sun. Yet her simple gesture also draws the viewer into her immediate space, providing entry into her world of solitary contemplation.

"Homer's idealized pastoral subject matter celebrated the pre-industrial past. Children were arguably the most suitable figures for scenes of rural nostalgia, famously depicted playing in front of one-room red schoolhouses, straddling rustic wood fences, and napping in green pastures amid languid cows. Some of Homer's most distinguished and celebrated genre paintings - including Snap the Whip (1872, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York) and Country School (1871-72, Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts) - exemplify his fascination with themes of youthful carousing and the archetypal quarrelling between schoolteachers and mischievous children. The redbrick schoolhouse represented a world of frivolity and straightforward emotions that contrasted with Homer's own tormented psyche. His evident nostalgia for carefree childhood belies an underlying anxiety over his personal struggles with loneliness and companionship.

"Idyllic Arcadian themes appealed to late nineteenth-century Americans in the aftermath of the Civil War, which had devastated the American landscape. Homer's harrowing scene in Prisoners from the Front (1866, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York) exemplified the visual scarring of the land and widespread disillusionment. Nostalgic images of pre-Civil War redbrick schoolhouses and rustic children provided a form of escapism, suggesting Homer's own longing for simple pleasures and young romance. These timeless visions of the countryside symbolized national pride, tradition and daily ritual for Americans in the wake of the Civil War.

"The emotional abandon and untroubled attitude emblematic of childhood 'provided him with a refreshing change in psychological involvement, for they were unable by their very nature to see the world from his point of view, much less to participate in his emotional life.' (E. Johns, Winslow Homer: The Nature of Observation, Berkeley, California, 2002, pp. 66-68) Homer's redbrick schoolhouse was already an outdated institution when he painted Snap the Whip in 1872. Similarly, Shepherd Girl Resting represented an old-fashioned perception of the young, rustic farm girl. Homer's exploration of the shepherd girl subject afforded him the opportunity to both recollect scenes from his own childhood in Cambridge, Massachusetts and give expression to the shared American longing for a simpler, peaceable way of life. Shepherd Girl Resting is an extraordinarily beautiful example of Homer's quintessential theme of the simple joys of childhood and country life."

"The Return from The Tournment" by Cole

Lot 84, "The Return from the Tournament," by Thomas Cole, oil on canvas, 40 by 60 1/2 inches, 1841

The Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., has consigned a few major works to this auction including Lot 84, "The Return from the Tournament," by Thomas Cole (1801-1848). A grandiose rather than grand oil on canvas, it measures 40 by 60 1/2 inches and was painted in 1841. It has an ambitious estimate of $2,000,000 to $3,000,000. It failed to sell. It was given to the Corcoran in 1957 by Josephine Caldwell Dillingham of Philadelphia.

The catalogue provides the following commentary:

"The Return from the Tournament of 1841 is a masterwork in which Thomas Cole splendidly combines the genres of allegory and landscape, crafting a fanciful medieval scene and picturesque vision of nature. The Return from the Tournament evokes the natural beauty of Catskill, New York along with fictional elements of European history, including a Scandinavian longship and majestic castle. The present work is monumental and richly imaginative, celebrating themes of tradition, myth, and the pursuit of glory, as Cole revisits the subject of the tournament following The Departure and its companion painting The Return....The castle in The Departure is replaced in The Return by an exquisite church while the revelry and excitement of the departing knights is supplanted by a sombre homecoming, as the lord of the castle appears prostrate on a litter. The season has transitioned from spring to fall, reinforcing the inevitability of mortality and decay. This notion of time passing is integral to The Return from the Tournament, manifest in the subject of departure and return and the evocation of an imaginary European history.

"Cole previously explored the passage of time in The Past which depicts a lively tournament, and The Present (figs. 3 and 4, both: 1838, Mead Art Museum, Amherst College, Massachusetts) which portrays the same castle and former tournament grounds in ruins, abandoned centuries earlier. Only a solitary shepherd in The Present stands where the enthusiastic crowd of tournament goers previously cheered on the competitors, evoking an elegiac mood. Seasonal change between the two works becomes a metaphor for the rise and fall of civilization and the cycle of life and death. Cole returns to this idea with the present work, using the land to signify the fortunes and tribulations of its inhabitants. There is a sense of permanence and stability in The Return from the Tournament that complements the restlessness in The Past and the nostalgic melancholy in The Present. Similarly, the theme of the cycle of civilization is masterfully portrayed by Cole in The Course of Empire series (1836, The New York Historical Society, New York), which charts the savage and Arcadian early stages of civilization, the glorious consummation of the empire, and its eventual destruction and desolation. The cyclical nature of civilization is echoed in the changing seasons and evolving appearance of the environment and its inhabitants; only the land survives and perseveres as time passes. Civilizations rise and fall and are only remembered--if at all--for their victories, feats, and the glory of their traditions. In The Return from the Tournament, the victory symbolized by the returning longship is fleeting in relation to the inevitability of time.

"As is often the case in Cole's work, natural elements - rivers, trees, and the sky - function symbolically in The Return from the Tournament. The winding river alludes to the progression of life, a concept that is also explored in the artist's The Voyage of Life series (1839-40) in which the four stages of life are illustrated through an epic river voyage. In The Return from the Tournament, the hazy outline of mountains looming in the distance suggests both the vastness of the landscape and the uncertain obstacles that hinder the progress and expansion of civilization. Likewise the foreboding storm clouds hovering above the castle signal uncertainty and possible hardship, though the lush forest and welcoming rider on horseback conjure themes of regeneration, ancestry and the enduring cycle of life. Cole's figures are often engulfed by the beauty and scale of their natural surroundings. The winding river and the uncultivated, vibrant forest provide a romantic vision of natural beauty, while the castle and distant mountains evoke the sublime awesomeness of the land. Cole blends realism and fantasy in a compelling vision of natural splendor and technical virtuosity.

"The adept arrangement of the longship, castle and rider on horseback in The Return from the Tournament exemplifies Cole's mastery of composition and narrative. The interaction between the figures is paramount: the rider on horseback looks to the boat expectedly, as a figure under the canopy on the boat motions to the lord and lady of the castle that sit opposite, while the man steering the boat looks toward the approaching castle. The non-figural elements further enhance this dynamic energy, as the gnarly tree trunk in the left foreground echoes the zigzagging river and the prows of the longship mimic the turrets of the castle. Additionally, the distant mountains obscured in atmospheric mist provide a sense of depth that complements the central convergence of the longship, the rider on horseback, and the castle. The ungovernable relationship between civilization and nature complements the set parameters of the tournament. Whereas the land is untamed and unruly, the tournament is governed by rigorous structure. The tournament has clear purpose: to defend and restore honor, celebrate past tradition, and establish security for the future. The tournament is a means of maintaining harmony and peace between people, whereas harmony with the land is less certain. The castle provides a formidable fortress, an enclave of security and a symbol of progress and human presence within the natural environment. The Return from the Tournament is exemplary of Cole's outstanding technical skill in rendering natural beauty and his mastery of epic narratives that explore themes of the cyclical nature of life and civilization."

"Tenafly, Autumn," by Inness

Lot 83, "Tenafly, Autumn," by George Inness, oil on canvas, 30 1/4 by 45 1/2 inches, 1891

Lot 83 is a very great oil on canvas by George Inness (1825-1894) that is entitled "Tenafly, Autumn." It measures 30 1/4 by 45 1/2 inches and is dated 1891. It has a modest estimate of $500,000 to $700,000. It has been consigned by the Corcoran Gallery of Art and had been given to it by Senator William A. Clark of New York. It failed to sell.

"Pink Orchids and Hummingbird on a Twig" by Heade

Lot 162, "Pink Orchids and Hummingbird on a Twig," by Martin Johnson Heade, oil on canvas, 18 by 24 inches

Lot 162 is a wonderful and exquisite Hummingbird painting by Martin Johnson Heade (1819-1904). An oil on canvas, it measures 18 by 24 inches and is entitled "Pink Orchids and Hummingbird on a Twig." It has an estimate of $1,000,000 to $1,500,000. It failed to sell.

The catalogue provides the following commentary:

"Martin Johnson Heade's fascination with tropical flora and fauna began on his trip to Brazil where he studied and painted hummingbirds. The exquisite, jewel-toned colors and inherent exoticism of these two subjects made them naturally appealing to an artistic eye. This sentiment was further enhanced when he traveled to Jamaica in 1870 and encountered the vast array of orchids native to the region. Heade's attraction to these specimens reflects, in part, the emerging parallel interest in South America and the sciences during the second half of the nineteenth century which many artists explored. His paintings of orchids and hummingbirds simultaneously manifest the nineteenth century fascination with recording the natural world and the Victorian sense of nature and its unpredictable power. Pink Orchids and Hummingbird on a Twig is a masterwork which embodies one of the most enduring themes in the artist's oeuvre and the subject of his most iconic works.

"Although Heade began his career as a portrait painter, his repertoire began to expand when he arrived in New York in 1858 and occupied a studio in the famed Tenth Street Studio Building. Almost immediately, Heade befriended Frederic Edwin Church, the already well-known artist who was considered to be the leader of the American Landscape School among colleagues and art enthusiasts. Church, who had recently completed arguably his most ambitious picture at the time, Niagara (1957, The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.), provided Heade with the inspiration to explore new painting techniques and travel to exotic locals. Church had previously visited Colombia and Ecuador in 1853 and again in 1857, having been inspired by Alexander von Humboldt's popular publication, Cosmos, and later resulting in his famed painting, Heart of the Andes, (1859, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York). As Church did, Heade would paint the most important works of his career based on his subsequent travels to Central America, South America and the Caribbean Islands. These trips, three over the course of approximately six years, included Brazil from 1863 to 1864, Nicaragua and Colombia in 1866, and Colombia, Panama and Jamaica in 1870. Informed by these experiences, Pink Orchids and Hummingbird on a Twig, is a premier example of the artist's success with painting nature.

"The Boston Transcript reported on August 12, 1863 that, "M.J. Heade Esq., the artist so well known for his landscapes... is about to visit Brazil, to paint those winged jewels, the hummingbirds, in all their variety of life as found beneath the tropics," (as quoted in T. Stebbins, Jr., The Life and Work of Martin Johnson Heade: A Critical Catalogue Raisonné, New Haven, Connecticut, 2000, p. 61) The newspaper was undoubtedly referring to Heade's long-time dream of producing an illustrated book on the species which he would have titled The Gems of Brazil, had it been published. This goal would have been the direct impetus for his first trip in 1863, which would have provided him with valuable material and accessibility to more then three hundred species of the bird, whereas the United States only retains one species that has not migrated to the equinoctial climates.

"Over the course of his sojourns, Heade's depictions of hummingbirds evolved. The artist's first hummingbirds were smaller and positioned closer to their nests, whereas the hummingbirds of the second trip were a slightly larger size, less dependant on their nests. It was only after Heade traveled to Jamaica in 1870 that the orchid became a key element of the hummingbird compositions. The present work, painted in 1875, displays Heade's thoughtful development in the positioning of orchids and hummingbirds together. Pink Orchids and Hummingbird on a Twig, is composed of two, exquisitely detailed pink orchids on long stems which have been placed noticeably higher in the composition than Heade's later pictures of this subject. This arrangement can also be seen in Two Hummingbirds with an Orchid, (High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia) also of 1875, where the flower has a more prominent place in the picture as a result of its elongated form.

"Pink Orchids and Hummingbird on a Twig, depicts an amethyst woodstar hummingbird (Calliphlox amethystine) next to a Cattleya labiata orchid. The specific species of each would have been carefully chosen by the artist, who was intrigued by their interaction with one another. He saw this relationship as a metaphor for nature's larger system. As the hummingbird pollinates the flower, the circle of life and thus fecundity of nature is continued and Heade's primary interests confirmed. Similar to his contemporaries, Heade was interested in the complicated structure of the natural world, which he chose to work out within these intimate compositions.

"In the present composition, Heade chose to filter sun through the haze creating a dramatic play of light and shadow that enhances the snaking silhouette of the flower and the arc of its frilled petals. The orchid is simultaneously delicate and powerful, seducing the boldly colored hummingbird that sips its nectar. The rich and complementary pinks and greens of these primary subjects combine with the more subdued hues of the tropical forest to evoke the fecundity and vibrancy of nature. Heade chose to further accentuate this paring by placing them against a misty, tropical background, subtle enough in its beauty to allow the hummingbird and orchids to standout in their grandeur.

"Heade once said, "From early boyhood I have been almost a monomaniac on hummingbirds," ("Didymus," Forest and Stream, April 14, 1892, p. 348 in T. Stebbins, The Life and Work of Martin Johnson Heade: A Critical Catalogue Raisonné, p. 61) a statement that would be substantiated by the paintings produced for more than thirty years. Heade's interests were admired by many during his lifetime, including Church, who owned a hummingbird and orchid picture which hangs at his home, Olana, to the present day. In comparison to his contemporaries' choice of South American subject matter, Heade's hummingbird and orchid pictures rank among the most unique and beautiful. Pink Orchids and Hummingbird on a Twig is a masterful composition that combines the most celebrated subject matter of the nineteenth century with the artist's brilliant talents."

"On the Hudson" by Gifford

Lot 64, "On the Hudson River," by Sanford Robinson Gifford, oil on canvas, 8 1/2 by 15 3/4 inches

Lot 64 is a very beautiful and luminist painting by Sanford Robinson Gifford (1823-1880) entitled "On the Hudson River." An oil on canvas, it measures 8 1/2 by 15 3/4 inches. It has a very modest estimate of $250,000 to $350,000. It sold for $290,500. It was once in the collection of Paul Magriel of New York.

The catalogue provides the following commentary:

"On the Hudson presents a majestic view of the Hudson River full of the beauty and tranquility exemplary of Sanford Robinson Gifford's finest works. This painting was found and identified in 1880 after the artist's death by his friend and fellow painter, Jervis McEntee. On the Hudson is described in a letter dated September 30, 2008, from Dr. Ila Weiss: "McEntee had frequently sketched with Gifford in the Hudson River vicinity, including the Hudson Highlands, and would have recognized the mountain in this painting as a romanticized interpretation of Storm King, rising at the northern end of the Highlands as seen from across the Hudson near Newburgh." This painting is in the same series and shares the theme as his most famous work of 1860, Into the Wilderness (Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, Ohio).

"Known to have sketched the Hudson Highlands in October and November of 1860, Gifford captures a landscape in seasonal transition. The mountaintop emerges in two tonal atmospheres, one side infused with pinkish sunlight and the other cooled and wetted by a blue distant rain. Working to develop paintings beyond the more traditional Hudson River School format, Gifford integrated into his works the broader themes of transcendentalism along with the spiritual beauty of nature. In On the Hudson, the receding horizon line reflects the transcendental aspects of landscape. Beginning with the tangible foreground of the defined river shore, the eye then moves up and backward to the more elusive and indiscernible water, then finds itself lost in the vast array of veiled, hazy sky.

"This work is exemplary of the Luminist movement, a term assigned to a group of landscape artists whose paintings were characterized by distinct lighting effects that suffuse the composition in a colored haze, creating a poetic, arcadian atmosphere. Critics coining the term Luminism called it 'nature seen through a temperament.' (in I. Weiss, Poetic Landscape: The Art and Experience of Sanford R. Gifford, Newark, Delaware, 1987, p. 13) This was done by the dissolution of visible brushstrokes, eliminating the artist's presence, and bringing to the forefront, the purely spiritual and divine in nature. Gifford has succeeded so well in suppressing evidence of his hand that this scene appears to be a landscape created by God, not fabricated by an artist. Barbara Novak noted that, 'Luminism was the most profound expositor of transcendental feelings toward God and nature and God as nature.' (in J. Wilmerding, American Light: The Luminist Movement, 1850-1875, Washington, D.C., 1980, p. 28)

"In its pristine depiction, On the Hudson embodies a powerful and grand scene of God's nature presenting a picture of quiet solitude during a time when man was encroaching on nature. Gifford's painting is intentionally nostalgic view. The sheer beauty of the landscape underscores his primary message that this is a promised land.

"Palisades of the Hudson River" by Silva

Lot 66, "Palisades of the Hudson River," by Francis Augustus Silva, oil on canvas, 9 by 18 inches

Lot 66, "Palisades of the Hudson River," is a lovely small Luminist painting by Francis Augustus Silva (1835-1886) that is entitled "Palisades of the Hudson River." An oil on canvas, it measures 9 by 18 inches. It was acquired at Berry-Hill Galleries in 1993. It has a modest estimate of $80,000 to $120,000. It sold for $140,500.

"Fishing Off The Coast of Labrador" by Bradford

Lot 67, "Fishing Off the Coast of Labrador," by William Bradford, oil on canvas, 28 by 48 inches, 1880

Lot 67 is a classic artic scene by William Bradford (1823-1892) entitled "Fishing Off the Coast of Labrador." An oil on canvas, it measures 28 by 48 inches and was painted in 1880. It has an estimate of $500,000 to $700,000. It failed to sell.

"Bay of Baiae, Sunrise" by Moran

Lot 85, "Bay of Baiae, Sunrise," by Thomas Moran, oil on canvas, 20 by 30 inches, 1867

Lot 85 is a fine European landscape painting by Thomas Moran (1827-1926). Entitled "Bay of Baiae, Sunrise," it is an oil on canvas that measures 20 by 30 inches and it was executed in 1867. It has an estimate of $120,000 to $180,000. It failed to sell.

The catalogue notes that this work is "the second of three paintings that he painted of the site, named after Odysseus' helmsman, Baius, whom is supposedly buried there," adding that "Known as Baia today, this area, located seven miles southwest of Naples on the Italian coast, was prosperous during the Roman Empire."

The catalogue continues to comment:

"Moran's treatment of light, color and atmosphere in Bay of Baiae, Sunrise manifest the influence of British Romantic painter Joseph Mallord William Turner. Moran had long studied black and white reproductions of Turner's paintings before traveling to Europe in 1862 and again from 1866 to 1867, where he studied the master's work in person, copying some of his images. Turner also depicted the bay of Baiae in his mythical The Bay of Baiae, with Apollo and Sibyl (1823, The Tate Gallery, London) as the fabled history of the place and its crystalline light would have naturally appealed to both artists' romantic natures. Moran was compelled to paint the bay three times, exploring different aspects in each work as indicated by their titles: Temple of Venus and Castle of Baiae painted in June 1867 and Pozzuoli and Bay of Baiae painted in September 1867. Like Turner, Moran used the landscape as a source of inspiration, altering the actual scene for an artistic effect and to capture the character of the vision rather than accurately transcribe it. Moran avowed, 'I place no value upon literal transcripts from nature. My general scope is not realistic; all my tendencies are toward idealization. Of course, all art must come through nature or naturalism, but I believe that a place, as a place, had no value in itself for the artist only so far as it furnishes the material from which to construct a picture.' (as quoted in L. Nelson, "The Oil Paintings of Thomas Moran" in Thomas Moran, 1837-1926, exhibition catalogue, Riverside, California, 1963, p. 18)"

"A River Landscape, Westphalia" by Bierstadt

Lot 169, "A River Landscape, Westphalia," by Albert Bierstadt, oil on canvas, 43 1/4 by 59 inches, 1855

Lot 169 is a large and very pleasing European landscape painting by Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902) who is best known for his later firey sunsets of the American West. Entitled "A River Landscape, Westphalia," it is an oil on canvas that measures 43 1/4 by 59 inches and was painted in 1855. Although an early work, it shows Bierstadt's painterly qualities to great advantage. It has a modest estimate of $150,000 to $250,000. It was acquired from the Vose Galleries in Boston in 1963. It sold for $338,500.

"Late Afternoon" by Wyant

Lot 80, "Late Afternoon," by Alexander Helwig Wyant, oil on canvas, 19 by 25 1/2 inches

Lot 80 is a rather poetic landscape by Alexander Helwig Wyant (1836-1892) that is entitled "Late Afternoon." An oil on canvas, it measures 19 by 25 1/2 inches and the catalogues states it was done before 1883. It is being offered by the Corcoran Gallery of Art to benefit its acquisition fund. It has a modest estimate of $30,000 to $50,000. It sold for $18,750. It was presented to the Corcoran in 1967 by Mrs. Thomas M. Spaulding of Washington, D.C.

"River scene" by Miller

Lot 69, "River Scene," by Alfred Jacob Miller, oil on canvas, 8 1/2 by 14 1/2 inches

Lot 69 is an unsigned "River Scene" by Alfred Jacob Miller (1810-1874) who is best known for his early paintings depicting Indians. There are no figures in this small but pleasant oil on canvas that measures 8 1/2 by 14 1/2 inches. It has an estimate of $20,000 to $30,000. It sold for $23,750.

"Indians Returning to Camp, Platte River" by Whittredge

Lot 159, "Indians Returning to Camp, Platte River," by Thomas Worthington Whittredge, oil on canvas, 9 1/2 by 13 inches, circa 1866-7

Thomas Worthington Whittredge (1820-1910) was a member of the second generation of Hudson River School painters but he is also well known for his pictures of the West and especially the area around the Platte River. This small but very nice oil on canvas measures 9 1/2 by 13 inches and is similar to several other versions, both small and large. It was painted circa 1866-7. It was once in the collection of the Gerald Peters Gallery of Santa Fe. It has a modest estimate of $120,000 to $180,000. It failed to sell.

"Rocky Coast, New England" by Haseltine

Lot 81, "Rocky Coast, New England," by William Stanley Haseltine, oil on canvas, 15 by 23 inches

William Stanley Haseltine (1835-1900) is best known for his lovely and dramatic paintings of rocky coasts in New England of which this is a fine example. An oil on canvas, it measures 15 by 23 inches and has an estimate of $50,000 to $70,000. It was given to the Joslyn Art Museum in Omahain 1956 by Eugene A. Kingman. It failed to sell.

"In Pastures New" by Farny

Lot 73, "In Pastures New," by Henry F. Farny, gouache on paper, 15 by 28 inches, 1895

Of the second generation of painters who focused on the American West and American Indians, Henry F. Farny (1847-1916) is perhaps the most talented with very fine compositions, distinctive palettes and exquisite detailing. Lot 73 is a fine example and is entitled "In Pastures New." A gouache on paper, it measures 15 by 28 inches and is dated 1895. It has an estimate of $1,000,000 to $1,500,000. It sold for $1,426,500.

The catalogue entry for this lot begins with a 1902 quote from Theodore Roosevelt about Farny: "The Nation owes you a great debt. It does not realize now, but it will some day. You are preserving phases of American history that rapidly are passing away."

"An exceptional example of the artist's work in gouache, In Pastures New of 1895 was executed during the height of Henry Farny's painting career," the entry continued. "Depicting a detailed rendering of everyday life of the Plains Indians, the present painting reveals the artist's masterful handling of color, space and atmosphere within a composition in a thoroughly convincing and effective manner. French by birth, Farny emigrated to Warren, Pennsylvania with his parents and shortly thereafter settled in Cincinnati, Ohio where he spent the remainder of his life. Following the path of earlier Cincinnati artists, Farny traveled to Europe studying first in Düsseldorf and then in Munich. In Düsseldorf, Farny not only acquired the technical skills espoused by the local masters but also made the acquaintance of Albert Bierstadt who encouraged him to travel to the American West. Farny's stay in Munich exposed him to the bravura brushwork and dark, moody palette of Frank Duveneck, the preeminent American artist working in the southern German city at that time. The training Farny received in Europe provided him with the most advanced and sophisticated ideas of the late nineteenth century separating him from many of his contemporaries who chose the West and the Indian as their subject. After returning from travel and study abroad, Farny made his first trip to the West in 1881, presumably to witness the capture of Sitting Bull. Arriving after the removal of Sitting Bull from Fort Yates along the Missouri River, Farny stayed on and became an active participant in the social life of the Indians who lived near the fort. Farny returned to the West in 1883 and 1884 in order to witness the final laying of the Northern Pacific Transcontinental Railroad and to illustrate an article for Century Magazine. During these trips and possibly a few more into the early 1890s, Farny gathered materials for the oil paintings and gouaches he would later complete in his Cincinnati studio. Collecting artifacts and props from the Indians he came to know affectionately, Farny recreated, and often repeated, scenes and events he witnessed on the Plains and in the mountains. Aided by on-site sketches and photographs both taken and purchased, Farny had gathered sufficient material and firsthand experience to paint the Indians of the American West in a sympathetic and lasting fashion. In contrast to many of his contemporaries who employed unnatural effects of light and atmosphere, aggrandized scales of land and space and explosions of action and spirit to create drama and emotion, Farny succeeded in portraying his narratives with an uncommon subtlety and harmony, and therefore more in reality. Farny's skilled choice of color, one of his trademarks, is beautifully demonstrated in the present work, In Pastures New. To give the viewer a sense of the ethereal beauty of the untouched land, Farny chooses tones of blue, violet, and green to depict the evenly sun-drenched landscape of the Plains. The pale hardened ground on which the main figural group stands is complemented by cooler bands of green in the middle ground and the expansive blue sky. The entire composition is thoughtfully developed by contrasting horizontal bands of warm and cool tones that effectively lend to the expansiveness of the overall landscape, while Farny's precise modeling and exacting detail contribute to a clarity of vision and intensity of emotion."

"Indian on Horseback" by Farny

Lot 70, "Indian on Horseback," by Henry F. Farny, watercolor and gouache on paper, 15 1/4 by 9 1/4 inches

Another fine Farny is Lot 70, Indian on Horseback," a watercolor and gouache on paper that measures 15 1/4 by 9 1/4 inches. It has an estimate of $300,000 to $500,000. It sold for $410,500.

The catalogue provides the following commentary:

"Several of the most effective tools Farny employed were a result of his interest in Japanese art. Farny learned these avant-garde devices from the Japanese design books he kept in his studio. As early as 1873, Farny recognized and assimilated the then unusual aesthetic ideas of Japanese art which gained popularity and admiration among European and American artists of the day. The combination of this cutting off at the edge, a strong horizontal format and a high horizon line is a formula Farny used once he recognized the balance and strength it could lend his images. Many of Farny's most successful works employ this characteristic composition. He also often used the motif of an American Indian traveling in the evening with a horizon line beyond the distant trees.I ndian on Horseback is a classic composition for Farny as the artist has approached his subject from a directly forward, yet slightly elevated position. This enables him to capture an intimate sense of scene unfolding before him, while maintaining a narrator's distance. Farny's audience is allowed to see the subjects at extremely close range, complete to the most particular detail. Between 1893 and 1912, Farny treated the American Indian more as an element in the landscape and became very interested in light effects. Executed in 1899, Farny has imbued Indian on Horseback with a luminescence in the dabs of orange hues glowing through the purple hazed trees and the saturated gold sky, which is suffused with light. Denny Carter notes, "His predilection for sunsets and hazy twilight scenes heightened the serenity created by his balanced compositions producing a tranquil, peaceful mood. The quietism and luminism of Farny's late work are manifestations of a long tradition in American art, particularly practiced by earlier artists such as John Kensett, Fitz Hugh Lane, and Martin Johnson Heade. Their paintings often emphasized a pronounced horizon line, water with its reflections, and soft harmonious light. Farny's late paintings, then, did not break new artistic ground but rather represented the application of older concepts to the western genre...Even though Farny is known primarily as a painter of Indians, his depiction of the light and mood of the Western landscape will probably remain his most lasting contribution to American art." (Henry Farny, p. 34)"

"Child Playing With Rabbit" by Johnson

Lot 48, "Child Playing With Rabbit," by Eastman Johnson, oil on board, 26 1/2 by 22 1/4 inches, 1878

Another work being offered by the Corcoran Gallery of Art is Lot 48, "Child Playing With Rabbit" by Eastman Johnson (1824-1906). A oil on board that measures 26 1/2 by 22 1/4 inches, it is dated 1878. It is a cute but not charming work and has an ambitious estimate of $700,000 to $1,000,000. It failed to sell.

The catalogue provides the following commentary:

"Eastman Johnson's Child Playing with Rabbit is a celebration of the honest simplicity of country life, which was a subject that especially appealed to Americans during the Reconstruction era. This charming masterpiece is exemplary of the sentimental nostalgia for rustic and anecdotal American themes of antebellum life. Following the devastation of the Civil War, there was a collective American longing for reassuring subject matter and a return to order, family values, and the home. Johnson initiated a distinctly American style of genre painting that signaled a widespread yearning for "youth, hope, and nostalgia during a time of acute anxiety for present and future prospects of life in America." (S. Burns, "In Whose Shadow? Eastman Johnson and Winslow Homer in the Postwar Decades," Eastman Johnson: Painting America, New York, 1999, p. 189) The subject of youth was synonymous with health and vitality during the postbellum period, and the notion of a new generation was symbolically powerful given the overwhelming losses suffered during the Civil War. Echoing the sentimentality of Winslow Homer's depictions of red brick schoolhouses, Johnson approached the subject of childhood as a means of expressing hope for the future and the continuation of a markedly American way of life."

"Still Life with Pipe" by Peto

Lot 51, "Still Life with Pipe," by John Frederick Peto, oil on canvas, 10 by 14 inches, 1886

The three great late-19th Century American masters of still-life painting were William Harnett, John Frederick Peto and John Haberle. Peto (1854-1907) tended to produce mostly small works with a few masculine objects on a tabletop such as appears in Lot 51, "Still Life with Pipe." An oil on canvas, it measures 10 by 14 inches and is dated 1886. It has an estimate of $120,000 to $180,000. It failed to sell.

The catalogue entry provides the following commentary:

"Many writers have discussed the manner in which Peto followed William Michael Harnett's subject matter and conceptions for still life and trompe l'oeil as Harnett was the older and more experienced painter. John Wilmerding has described their interaction: 'Peto and Harnett soon became friends and genial competitors, undertaking common subjects and compositions over the next couple of decades. But even from Peto's first dated works of about 1878, he practiced a looser style with greater attention to expressive textures and colors...Peto's style was personal and subjective.' ("Notes of Change," William M. Harnett, New York, 1992, p. 155) Peto's still lifes are warmer and more familiar as the objects seem lovingly used, disparate to the detachment of Harnett's trompe l'oeils. In Still Life with Pipe Peto follows pictorial conventions, but his more painterly technique, with its expressive paint handling, belies the intention of deceiving the eye. His technique also serves to enhance the metaphoric nature of these works. John Wilmerding has written, 'In contrast to Harnett's objectivity, Peto became increasingly subjective, if not autobiographical. As he did, his paintings gained in confidence and expressiveness; at their best they possess qualities altogether different for those of Harnett but nonetheless comparable in their beauty. What is important to recognize are the ways in which Peto modifies the traditional trompe l'oeil mode. While his paintings do not spell out a literal story, their elements often evoke narrative or anecdotal associations. While he works with effects of illusionistic render of forms in space, visual trickery is seldom an aim in itself. Most of all, while he is capable of totally convincing effects of deception, Peto prefers to exploit, rather than suppress, the mark of his brushwork. Finally, his vision of the genre is more than decorative; instead of a neutral; and self-effacing stance, he makes forms express deeply felt emotion.' (Important Information Inside: The Art of John F. Peto and the Idea of Still-Life Painting in the Nineteenth Century, p. 217)

"Daughter of Persephone" by Davies

Lot 139, "Daughter of Persephone," by Arthur Bowen Davies, oil on canvas, 13 1/4 by 11 1/4 inches, 1910

Arthur Bowen Davies (1862-1928) was one of the eight famous members of the "Ashcan School" that flourished in Philadelphia and New York in the period before World War I and he was an important organizer of the famous and highly influential Armory Show of 1913 that introduced European modernism to American audiences. His own work tended not be be the gutsy street life that fascinated other Ashcan artists such as George Luks and John Sloan, but idyllic and poetic scenes in which beautiful women wafted through landscapes. Lot 139, "Daughter of Persephone" is a fine example of his work. It is an oil on canvas that measures 13 1/4 by 11 1/4 inches and was painted in 1910. It has a modest estimate of $20,000 to $30,000. It sold for $27,500. It was formerly in the collections of the Macbeth Gallery of New York, Mary Quinn of Brooklyn, Mrs. Cornelius J. Sullivan of Long Island, Royal Cortissoz of New York, the Newhouse Gallery in New York and the Milch Gallery in New York. It was included in the 1930 memorial exhibition on the artist held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

"Portrait of a Girl" by Henri

Lot 141, "Portrait of a Girl," by Robert Henri, oil on canvas, 28 by 20 inches, 1928

Lot 141 is a beautiful "Portrait of a Girl" by Robert Henri (1865-1929), the founder of the Ashcan School. An oil on canvas, it measures 28 by 20 inches and was painted in 1928. It has a modest estimate of $250,000 to $350,000. It sold for $314,500.

"War-time Airport" by Morris

Lot 27, "War-time Airport," by George Lovett Kingsland Morris, oil on canvas, 17 1/4 by 20 inches, 1942

Lot 27 is a wonderful abstraction by George L. K. Morris (1905-1975). It is entitled "War-time Airport" and is an oil on canvas that measures 17 1/4 by 20 inches and is dated 1942. It was once in the collection of the Joan T. Washburn Gallery in New York. It has a very modest estimate of $80,000 to $120,000. It sold for $74,500.

Untitled by Frelinghuysen

Lot 31, untitled, by Suzy Frelinghuysen, oil on canvasboard, 16 by 12 inches, circa 1950s

Lot 31 is a marvelous untitled oil on canvasboard by Suzy Frelinghuysen (1911-1988) that is a fine companion to the Morris abstraction. It measures 16 by 12 inches and was painted circa 1950s. It was acquired in 2004 from the Salander-O'Reilly Galleries in New York. It failed to sell.

"Flowers and Cucumbers" by Demuth

Lot 11, "Flowers and Cucumbers," by Charles Demuth, watercolor and pencil on paper, 12 by 18 inches, circa 1924

Lot 11 is a very beautiful still life by Charles Demuth (1883-1935). Entitled "Flowers and Cucumbers," it is a watercolor and pencil on paper that measures 12 by 18 inches. It was painted circa 1924. It was once in the collection of Joan Lester Avnet. It has a modest estimate of $250,000 to $350,000. It sold for $242,500.

The catalogue provides the following commentary:

"In 1922, Charles Demuth's debilitating diabetes compelled the artist to return from New York to live permanently in his childhood home of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where he would produce the most sophisticated still lifes of his career. Executed circa 1924, Flowers and Cucumbers is a simultaneously delicate and arresting composition that is a testament to Demuth's mastery of watercolor as well as his ability to innovatively capture the nuances of light, form and color. Flowers were of lifelong interest to Demuth and a subject that he revisited throughout his career, first painting them as a child, returning to them in the mid-1910s and again in the 1920s. The works of the 1910s, which were less refined and more expressive than the mature watercolors, are characterized by loose washes of saturated color that cover the entire paper surface and an integration, rather than distinction, of flowers and background. The mature works, including Flower and Cucumbers, are more restrained and erudite, isolating the subject against the background. Color relations in the present work are more complex than earlier watercolors and the composition is evocative of the fractured planes of the architectural watercolors and precisionist explorations that Demuth painted in Provincetown, Bermuda and Lancaster during the late 1910s and 1920s. Demuth's technical virtuosity is at its height in Flower and Cucumbers in which he employs color as well as line to define space. A blue vase containing two white daisies and three cucumbers are set against a background that is constructed of planes of color. Diaphanous washes that range in intensity from nearly opaque chocolate browns and charcoal grays to delicate pinks and mauves are layered within delicate pencil lines. These lines give the work structure, defining the basic forms and adding detail to the flowers and vegetables. Demuth characteristically manipulates the surface, blotting some areas such as the cucumbers and portions of the background to create a mottled effect. These variances create depth and complexity, combining with the planar background and subtle modulation of colors to suggest the effects of light and create spatial relations in the dynamic image, imbuing the work with a pulsing vivacity. The blotting technique also provides the cucumbers mass and volume, enhancing the roundness and solidarity of their forms. This is underscored by the depiction of their pale purple shadows. The influence of Paul Cézanne's watercolors is evident in Flower and Cucumbers, which incorporates the organic, curved forms of the flowers and cucumbers with the hard-edged, geometric planes that define the background, creating a spacial discourse. Demuth also adopted from the French artist the practice of exploiting his support, leaving areas of the paper bare as a compositional device. This is a marked departure from his earlier watercolors in which saturated color covered the entire sheet, and creates the sensation that the composition is floating on the paper. This adept employment of negative space intensifies the work's dynamism and enhances the effects of light in the composition. The daisies are carefully drawn in pencil, remaining free of color. Similarly, pencil sketching in other areas of composition is left bare, a tendency common in Demuth's later works. 'Beginning with his Bermuda works in 1916...Demuth covered the paper or the canvas less and less and gave the background importance equal to the subject painted. His new style, later called "Precisionism," was merely his own method of combining what he found effective in the many new painterly elements and making them his own.' (A.L. Eiseman, Charles Demuth, New York, 1982, p. 14) In Flowers and Cucumbers Demuth combines his mastery of watercolor with a thoroughly modern approach to the traditional genre of still life painting. Through this progressive masterworks such as this, he reinvigorated the genre for the twentieth century."

"Three White Squares" by Pereira

Lot 32, "Three White Squares," by Irene Rice Pereira, oil on canvas, 28 by 30 inches, 1940

Irene Rice Pereira (1902-1971) created her own brand of geometric abstraction that took Mondrian's rectilinearity into a third and deeper dimension as is evidenced in Lot 32, "Three White Squares." An oil on canvas, it measures 28 by 30 inches and was executed in 1940. It has a modest estimate of $15,000 to $25,000. It sold for $42,500.

"Study for 'Pochade' #1" by Davis

Lot 8, "Study for 'Pochade' #1," by Stuart Davis, oil on canvas, 12 by 16 inches, 1957-8

Lot 8 is a small but strong abstraction by Stuart Davis (1892-1964). Entitled "Study for 'Pochade' #1," it is an oil on canvas that measures 12 by 16 inches and was executed in 1957-8. It has an estimate of $200,000 to $300,000. It sold for $182,500.

The catalogue notes that "The present work is one of three oil studies that Stuart Davis began in 1957 for the related large-scale masterwork, Pochade (Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum of Art, Madrid, Spain), which the artist painted from 1956 to 1958. The amount of time that Davis spent on the painting and studies makes the title, which means "rapid sketch" in French, seem ironic, though as with many of the artist's works, the meaning of the title is extraneous as is the meaning of the words that he incorporates into his compositions. He wrote, 'As to the title, I select words or phrases [and] I apply them to a painting for purposes of identification when they seem appropriate in sound, not for any descriptive reason.' ("Something on the Eight Ball," transcribed in Stuart Davis: Major Late Paintings, New York, 2002, p. 25)"

"Fifth Avenue, Evening" by Hassam

Lot 40, "Fifth Avenue, Evening," by Childe Hassam, watercolor, gouache and pastel on paper, 21 3/4 by 15 1/2 inches, circa 1890-3

Lot 40 is a lovely watercolor, gouache and pastel on paper by Childe Hassam (1859-1935) entitled "Fifth Avenue,Evening." It measures 21 3/4 by 15 1/2 inches and was exeuted circa 1890-1893. It has an estimate of $700,000 to $1,000,000. It sold for $902,500.

According to the catalogue, "Hassam's urbanscapes are dreamlike visions of atmosphere and light. These dazzling images of seasonal change embody an indistinct, decorative impression of natural beauty that is formally reminiscent of James McNeill Whistler's celebrated nocturne paintings. The subtle yet evocative array of warm grays with hints of blue and purple contribute to the strong emotive content of the work, reinforcing its elegiac mood. The feathery quality of the brushstrokes and the multitude of colors infusing the gray palette share an affinity with French Impressionist Claude Monet's late water lily pictures from the 1890s. Hassam developed his Impressionist style while living in Paris from 1886 to 1889, moving away from his earlier Tonalist palette to the brightly hued, short brushstrokes of the French Impressionists. Fifth Avenue, Evening is a superb example of Hassam's impressionistic formal style, capturing the ephemeral natural beauty of the scene in a masterful display of vibrant colors and painterly, expressionistic brushstrokes."

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