Menconi + Schoelkopf
Menconi + Schoelkopf
one version of the story of American art describes a series of isolated triumphs: for two hundred years, anyone who aspired to paint went to Europe, until Abstract Expressionism put America on the international stage. These pages sketch an altogether different account. For every household name— Mary Cassatt or Milton Avery—there are also the vibrant communities with whom their artistic practices grew. We are proud to present an exceptional work by Fitz Henry Lane alongside an excellent example by his mentor, Robert Salmon, and another by his student, Mary Blood Mellen. Stuart Davis’s works of the 1950s are well known, but we are able to show his little-seen first steps of transition from his Ashcan to post-impressionist style. The crucible of early modernism that formed around Alfred Stieglitz’s “291” gallery was a homegrown phenomenon, with the extraordinary talents of John Marin, Konrad Cramer, and Marsden Hartley fueling one another’s visions. These connective tissues have become increasingly interesting to scholarship and to collectors in recent years. We hope to present these works in a context that supports that narrative—the masts of Ralston Crawford’s Bora Bora II and the raw steel of Mark di Suvero’s Towanda as the flowering of a century of American artistic tradition. We hope that the experienced eye as well as the newcomer will find something exciting and beautiful. Menconi + Schoelkopf had an exceptional year in 2014, seeing strong sales in Hudson River School paintings as well as a swelling appetite for early American modernism. December saw our inaugural participation in Art Basel | Miami Beach, and by the time this catalogue is in your hands, we will be opening our booth at the Art Dealers Association of America Art Show at the Park Avenue Armory. We hope you will visit us at the fair. We look forward to hearing from you in the coming months. We would not be able to offer such a broad and rich catalogue without the support of collectors, museums, and scholars, and we thank you sincerely for your patronage. We welcome comments and inquiries and encourage you to contact us if we can help guide the shaping of your collection. Jonathan Spies Susan E. Menconi Andrew L. Schoelkopf
George Wesley Bellows, Portrait of Florence Budd, detail, 1914, see cat. no. 13
1. Perch Lighthouse, 1830s Oil on canvas, 9 x 11⅝ inches Signed and dated indistinctly at lower right: R. Salmon 183[?]
provenance [Hyland Granby Antiques, Hyannis Port, Massachusetts]; to Private collection, New York, until the present
When John I. H. Baur wrote his seminal article in 1954 on the American land- and sea-scape paintings of the 1850s and 60s, he singled out Martin Johnson Heade and Fitz Henry Lane as exemplars of the form. In that article, Baur coined the term Luminism for the grouping of artists who began to use brilliant color to focus on light and atmospheric effects. Lane was largely self-taught, but Baur pointed to the influence of the British-born Robert Salmon upon Lane’s development—and indeed in the development of Luminism. When Salmon came to America in 1829, he took work at William S. Pendleton’s lithography shop in Boston, where he almost certainly met Fitz Henry Lane (Lane made at least one direct copy of Salmon’s work, The Yacht “Northern Light” in Boston Harbor, [Shelburne Museum, Vermont]). Salmon’s great output of canvases—a thousand are listed in his own incomplete notes—is almost exclusively maritime scenes. His fidelity to the bright, clear rendering of the sea and its light and atmosphere was a legacy that the American painters of the following two decades drank with alacrity. Perch Rock Lighthouse sits at west side of the mouth of the River Mersey in England, known in the nineteenth century for its smuggling and for its shipwrecks. The point opposite Liverpool was developed in the 1830s as a seaside resort, called New Brighton in hopes that it would rival Brighton as a seaside destination. The lighthouse’s construction there was begun in 1827. It was later renamed New Brighton Lighthouse and remained in use until 1973 and is now an historic site. While the date inscribed on the painting is partially obscured, the marine art scholar Dr. A. S. Davidson has noted that the lighthouse was not in service until 1832, and advances the hypothesis that the verisimilitude of its rendering on canvas indicates that Salmon executed the painting on-site. The small scale of the work certainly would allow this. Salmon depicted the same lighthouse in a larger, busier canvas of the following decade—A Regatta Off New Brighton in the River Mersey (1845, private collection)—suggesting he may even have referred to the present work. Salmon’s working studio was, for the entirety of the 1830s, in Boston, but he returned to English soil on painting trips throughout the decade, including trips to Liverpool in 1831 and again the following year. The artist’s own notes (now lost; a transcript from the original is reproduced in John Wilmerding, Robert Salmon: Painter of Ship and Shore, 1971) record spending two and a half days on each of two small paintings near Liverpool in “Janewerey 1831,” “Shore Boat and lite house. On sp. Solld 15 [sic].”
Fitz Henry Lane
2. Ship in Fog, Gloucester Harbor, c. 1860 Oil on canvas, 24 x 41 inches
provenance Private collection, New Jersey; to [Phillips, de Pury & Luxembourg, New York, May 21, 2002, lot 23]; to Private collection, New York, until the present
Fitz Henry Lane was a native of the small fishing village of Gloucester, Massachusetts. While it would become in the next century home to an artist colony, the town then was dominated by maritime industry. Having lost the use of his legs at an early age, the young Lane displayed a talent for drawing and moved to Boston for an education in maritime painting, growing to become one of the preeminent marine painters—Lane scholar John Wilmerding notes that he was first among native-born marine painters [American Marine Painting (1968), p. 113]. His early work in Pendleton’s lithography shop strengthened his prodigious limning gifts, and also introduced him to Robert Salmon, the English-born genius of ship portraiture. This early training allowed Lane to produce his own lithographs—unheard of in his field—and prepared his hand for the exceptional wedding of drawing and painting that characterizes his work. The present work takes as its setting the waterfront of Lane’s native Gloucester. The vessel is unidentified, but the work is similar in composition and treatment of atmosphere to another canvas by the maritime master, Ship “Starlight” in the Fog [Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio]. The ship is depicted at a different angle, and two of the subordinate elements are altered, but the real star of the painting—the hazy sun and the subtly affected fog—is carefully studied in both works. A third canvas of similar composition, Gloucester Harbor at Sunset (private collection, New York), has been dated to the late 1850s. While the arrangement of boats is similar here, the atmosphere is diminished, with the distant Ten Pound Island visible on the horizon. The present work may be a separate composition based on the same vessel as the roughly contemporaneous “Starlight,” the one as a descriptive “portrait” of the ship, the other a reworking in much higher drama. The prow turns toward us—a powerful view, but less desirable for a commissioned ship portrait—and the two men in the foreground rowboat give scale and grandeur to the fog-sheathed bow. The same fog hides the island but for a faint lighthouse carefully arranged between the masts of the dominant vessel.
Mary Blood Mellen
3. Square Rigged Ships Anchored at Sunset, c. 1860 Oil on canvas, 9 x 13 inches
provenance [Godel & Co., New York]; to Private collection, about 2000
Mary Blood Mellen, the wife of a Gloucester minister, was a beneficiary of Fitz Henry Lane’s tutelage and, upon his death, of his estate. Her husband was Rev. Charles W. Mellen of the Universalist Church. She worked from the master’s canvases and sometimes Lane would “touch upon” her canvases. The oils that bear the teacher’s work were at least sometimes noted in inscription, and Mellen would sometimes sign works, “Painted by M. B. Mellen after F. H. Lane” [as in View of Gloucester Harbor and Dolliver’s Neck, 1870, private collection]. But both painters were sporadic signators. Lane signed his full name on only a handful of canvases (Lane expert John Wilmerding speculates he did this only on canvases in New York, where his name was less well-known), giving rise to nearly two centuries of confusion over the painter’s real name. Mellen, also left an incomplete inscription record. Given the degree to which Mellen worked with Lane, Wilmerding has also mused, “One wonders how many of [the paintings] now attributed to his hand may in fact be his pupil’s.” Clearly among the most gifted of Lane’s pupils, Mellen produced a significant number of works that are entirely her own. The present work is unsigned and has been attributed to Mellen. The view is very likely Gloucester Harbor, its scalloped seashore in much the same arrangement as several other well-documented works. Its exceptional clarity and masterful use of Luminist light belies the convention that Mellen’s works are consistently inferior to her teacher’s.
Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait 4.
Deer Driving, Northern New York,
Oil on canvas, 14 x 22 inches Signed and dated at lower right: A.F. Tait N.A. N.Y. U.S. 1862 Inscribed on the reverse prior to lining: Deer Driving, Northern N.Y., U.S.A., No. 200, A.F. Tait N.A., N.Y. 1861
provenance Mr. Charles Bowman, England; to [Whitehead and Hetherington, Liverpool, England]; to [Scott & Fowles, New York]; to Estate of Mrs. Allan P. Kirby; to [Sale, Sotheby’s, New York, January 27, 1983, lot 45]; to Private collection; to [Gerald Peters Gallery, Santa Fe]; to William B. Ruger; By descent in the family, until the present owner
literature Warder H. Cadbury and Henry F. Marsh, Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait: Artist of the Adirondacks (1986) p. 160, no. 61.37, illus. // Adrienne Ruger Conzelman, After the Hunt: The Art Collection of William B. Ruger (2002), pp. 68–69, 193, illus. in color
Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait is best known for his depictions of hunters and frontiersmen and his unique narrative vernacular that informs the anxiety and drama of the moment. Tait was born in Liverpool, England, before his family moved to Manchester. He trained in Manchester as a lithographer, and his first work was in commercial lithographic reproductions. It was to be his only artistic training, but it proved fruitful as the young artist moved to watercolor and oil. He much admired the images of the American West by George Catlin, and decided, in 1850, to cross the Atlantic and see untamed America for himself. His training in lithography came in handy when he quickly sold the first of many paintings to Currier & Ives for reproduction in 1852. His hand did not execute the lithographs, but his understanding of the merits and limitations of the medium made his works especially well-suited for reproduction. Buoyed by these commercial successes, he was able to undertake painting expeditions to the Adirondacks starting in 1852, and from these years forward his pictures of hunting and the West were in demand on canvas and in lithography. Whereas his upward climb was stifled in England by the barriers of class and training, he was admitted as an Academician in 1858 to the National Academy of Design, New York. He continued to work in the Adirondacks until 1882, when he sold his house there and moved to spend much of his remaining days in Yonkers. The present work is an early example of a group of paintings that present one of Tait’s most successful compositions: an oarsmen in the back of a canoe or guide boat steadies the craft as the hunter hunches in “an anxious moment” before taking a shot. Never shy of returning to a winning thesis, Tait executed between four and six versions of this arrangement in the early 1880s. Deer Driving, Northern New York, is among the first, although it is unknown how early he began this theme. It is also an interesting composition for its inclusion of the deer in the hunter’s sights—other similar works focus only on the hunters.
Mary Cassatt 5.
Little Girl in a Large Red Hat Oil on canvas, 17¼ x 15¼ inches Signed at lower left: Mary Cassatt
provenance Senator Antonio Santamarina, Buenos Aires, by 1942; to [Sotheby’s, London, in 1974]; to Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Neal Heller, Miami, by 1980; to Murauchi Art Museum, Tokyo, until 2009; to [Adelson Galleries, New York, in 2009]; to Linda and Harvey Saligman, St. Louis; to The Saligman Trust, until the present
exhibited Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires, 1933, Escuela Francesca, no. 8 // Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires, 1962, El impresionismo Frances en las colecciones Argentinas, no. 15 // Museé du Petit Palais, Paris; National Gallery, East Berlin, German Democratic Republic; Museum Moderner Kunst, Vienna, Austria; Art Museum, Bucharest, Romania; and National Art Gallery, Sofia, Bulgaria, 1982–83, American Impressionism
literature Antonio Santamarina, “My Pleasure in Collecting,” in Magazine of Art, vol. 35, 1942 // Antonio Santamarina, La Coleccion Antonio Santamarina (1965), p. 47, illus. in color // Adelyn Dohme Breeskin, Mary Cassatt: A Catalogue Raisonné of the Oils, Pastels, Watercolors, and Drawings (1970), p. 65, illus., no. 104
Unique among American impressionists, Mary Cassatt played a major role in the development of French impressionism, living and working in Paris for most of her life. Gaining entrée with the master Edgar Degas, she distinguished herself first as his finest student and then joined him in his increasingly avant-garde experimentation with color and composition. Playing upon a French passion for Japanese prints, she experimented in a variety of printmaking techniques, establishing herself as a master printmaker as well as furthering her own studies of patterning and composition. She won acclaim on an international stage for her intimate depictions of women and children. Her ability to distill tenderness and intimacy while eschewing the saccharine and sentimental contributed to America’s eventual enthusiasm for her work, beginning late in the painter’s life and growing steadily since. The 1880s were an exciting time for Cassatt. She had been exhibiting with the Indépendents, Degas’s group of progressive impressionists, since 1877, and had lived next door to Eduoard Manet at the end of his life. She enjoyed a warm relationship with Degas, and the two shared an outsider status in the impressionist camp for their mutual technique of using rich darks. In 1891, she began printmaking “with the intention of attempting an imitation of Japanese methods” [quoted in Breeskin, Mary Cassatt: A Catalogue Raisonné of the Oils, Pastels, Watercolors, and Drawings (1970), p. 15]. The following year, she would be commissioned by the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago to contribute a mural on the theme of “Modern Woman.” After critical dissatisfaction in the American press, the mural was lost or destroyed, affirming to the artist the wisdom of living abroad. While a consistent refrain had been that these quiet domestic scenes betray a softness, more recent critical attention has pointed to her mother-and-child work as an investigation of feminine strength, reestablishing the painter as a proto-feminist icon. Increasing blindness prevented her
from working in the last decades of her life, but her ringing contributions to both American painting and to the post-impressionist milieu won her recognition at home and abroad. Judith Barter notes that France may have been particularly receptive to themes of motherhood and “national regeneration” because feminism and children’s rights were ascendant in the 1880s in response to the death and destruction presented during the recent Franco-Prussian War [ Judith A. Barter, Mary Cassatt: Modern Woman (1998), p. 69]. Whatever the national sentiment, when Cassatt submitted scenes of women with children to the Sixième Exposition de peinture (the Sixth Impressionist Exhibition), she was met with critical success. Cassatt herself had a subdued relationship to the feminist bloom. While she quietly contributed to feminist causes, she avoided a leadership role. This restrained position was perhaps further complicated by her friendship with her teacher and colleague, the noted misogynist Edgar Degas. Scholars have noted the dialogue that emerged between Degas’s voyeurism and Cassatt’s abiding sympathy. The present work is a case in point. While the traditional treatment of children in painting had been to consider them as simply small adults, Cassatt approaches her subject with a frankness and spontaneity. The portrait succeeds at conveying the vitality and fleeting nature of the subject rather than idealizing or monumentalizing it. The child’s face, with the broken, encircling lines of blue and sea-foam, expresses the same dynamism as Degas’s dancers. This freshness was a hallmark achievement of the impressionist movement. Dissatisfied with the rigidity and lifelessness of academic painting, the twelve key painters that comprised the group that would come to be called impressionists—Cassatt among them—moved towards an appreciation of the painting itself, with less emphasis on a seamless finish. The group rejected the juried Salon shows, and their early exhibitions together garnered taunts that their works were unfinished sketches. This innovation, however, proved a turning point in art history, as the elements of painting itself stole the show from the subject matter. The undisguised brushstroke and high-key palette were fundamental to the germinal stages of what would become understood as modern art. The present work is thus an important work at a turning point in the artist’s career, and also in the genesis of modern painting. Loose, circumambulating brushstrokes and bare patches of canvas foretell the growth of modernism, from Paul Cézanne to Jackson Pollock. In the early 1880s, a schism was developing between the highly varnished pictures and a growing appreciation for the act of painting itself. This aesthetic shift was particularly well-suited for Cassatt’s subject matter. The children she enjoyed painting, in their chaotic and energetic spirits, demanded and received in Cassatt’s virtuosic hand the same f leeting spontaneity as in Monet’s attempt to capture sunlight on a vanishing morning mist. The forthcoming Cassatt catalogue raisonné proposes a later date for the work, suggesting it was painted between 1902 and 1905, based on a 1908 Paris checklist featuring a work with matching dimensions and signature. [Mary Cassatt: A New Catalogue Raisonne, www.marycassatt.com, no. 396]. The first catalogue raisonné advanced the earlier date, and other current scholarship has affirmed a tentative dating of date of c. 1882–6 [Adelyn Dohme Breeskin, Mary Cassatt: A Catalogue Riasonné of Oils, Pastels, Watercolors, and Drawings (1970), p. 65, illus.]. The sitter has not been identified, but during this period Cassatt was using her friends and family as models, the present subject likely not an exception.
Property of a Charitable Remainder Trust
Dennis Miller Bunker 6.
Olga E. Gardner,
Oil on canvas, 63¼ x 44 inches Signed and dated at upper right: D.M. BUNKER / 1888
provenance The artist; to Mr. and Mrs. George Augustus Gardner, Boston; to Olga Eliza Gardner [Monks], the sitter, Boston; to Dr. John P. Monks, her son, Boston; to The present owner
exhibited Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1994, Dennis Miller Bunker: American Impressionist, no. 31 // Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, 1995, Dennis Miller Bunker and His Circle, no. 11
literature R. H. Ives Gammell, Dennis Miller Bunker (1953), pp. 29, 52, 54, illus. plate no. 12 // Erica E. Hirshler, Dennis Miller Bunker: American Impressionist (1994), pp. 174 and 182 // Erica E. Hirshler, Dennis Miller Bunker and His Circle (1995), pp. 7 and 61, fig. 3, illus.
Dennis Miller Bunker was one of America’s greatest artistic talents, enjoying a career of the caliber of John Singer Sargent and J. A. M. Whistler. Born in Brooklyn in 1861 to a long line of Nantucket Quakers, Bunker spent many boyhood trips in New England, where his family traced its roots back several generations. As early as age 17 he was taking classes under William Merritt Chase at the Art Students League, as well as studying at the National Academy of Design. Having exhausted the educational offerings of New York, he set off for Paris in 1884, studying there under Hebert and Jean-Léon Gérôme at the École des Beaux-Arts. By 1885 he had returned to the United States, settling in Boston, where he took a position teaching drawing at Cowles Art School. He wrote frequently of his homesickness for New York, but nonetheless was remembered quickly after his death and forevermore as a Bostonian at heart. Bunker spent the summer of 1886 with Abbott Thayer, whom he idolized, and that of 1888 with John Singer Sargent, with whom he became good friends. It was through the latter friendship that Bunker, five years’ Sargent’s junior, met Isabella Stewart Gardner. She would remain his most important patron. The years of 1887 to 1889 were his busiest when he executed portraits of the Gardner family as well as canvases of Samuel F. B. Morse and Mr. and Mrs. J. Montgomery Sears. He had finally established himself both socially and financially. His death the following year, of spinal meningitis, cut tragically short an impressive and celebrated career. Sargent called Bunker the most gifted painter he knew, and his canvases that survive are testament to a virtuosic talent well beyond his years. The present work was painted during that last fertile push in the artist’s life, when he was painting and socializing alongside Sargent. The sitter is Olga E. Gardner, the daughter of George and Eliza and the niece of Isabella Stewart Gardner, aged 19 at the time. Bunker painted Olga (along with the patrons’ son, John Lowell Gardner, II) in 1888. The artist’s biographer, R. H. Ives Gammell, remarked that the Portrait of Miss Olga E. Gardner “takes its place among the finest things in American art” [R. H. Ives Gammell, Dennis Miller Bunker (1953), p. 29]. Gammell wrote elsewhere of this period of Bunker’s portraiture, “The excellent portrait of George
Augustus Gardner shows the degree to which Bunker benefited from association with his older colleague [Sargent], while in the lovely picture of Miss Olga Gardner . . . he achieved something very much his own in which the newly acquired qualities are quite thoroughly assimilated” [ibid., p. 52]. While a contemporary gossip magazine remarked that the woman herself was “not accounted a raving beauty,” the understated grace that the painter has given her testifies both to the subtle beauty of Olga and the famous sensitivity of the painter. The Gardner family’s enthusiasm for Bunker’s portraits underscores the painter’s auspicious gifts. Isabella Stewart Gardner was one of the most important collectors of her day or any. Her broad-ranging curiosity and confidence in her own tastes led her to early support for maverick artists such as Sargent, Whistler, and the author Henry James. Few women of the nineteenth century could boast an enthusiasm for the Boston Symphony as well as Harvard football. She was unfettered by convention, sallying forth to boxing matches and Red Sox games with the same enthusiasm as visiting Palazzo Barbaro in Venice. Her many charitable legacies include the endowments of organizations for the prevention of cruelty to children and animals, but her most visible contribution remains the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. The collection showcases her intrepid vision, remaining one of the gems of American collecting of any time period. The Gardners traced their roots in New England back to 1624. George Augustus Gardner, Olga’s father, distinguished the family name by his generosity to the city of Boston. In recognition, Gardner Way, in South Boston, is named for him. His wife, née Eliza Endicott Peabody, shared with her husband a grandfather in Joseph Peabody, another New England patriarch (the town of Peabody, Massachusetts is named for him). The first of their children, George Peabody Gardner, would direct then fledgling General Electric for much of its first 50 years. His youngest sister was Olga Eliza Gardner (1869–1944). Olga would marry George Howard Monks. The Monks family was a more recent arrival to America; its patriarch, the Irish immigrant John Patrick Monks, settled in Maine around 1820, later moving his lumber business to Boston. The business flourished there, and his wealth topped $200,000, earning him a spot on an 1851 listing of “The Rich Men of Massachusetts” [A Traitor to His Class: Robert A. G. Monks and the Battle to Change Corporate America (1999), p. 3]. Olga’s son, (George) Gardner Monks, was a minister who married Katharine Knowles of another old Maine family. Their union produced five children, among them Robert Augustus Gardner Monks, who remains an outspoken activist in corporate responsibility. The family tree is dense from root to branch with stewards of public good and generous benefaction to the arts and civic institutions. Olga herself was known for her sparky personality and undertaking of Isabella Stewart Gardner’s legacy. “[Isabella Stewart Gardner’s] people work as they feel she would have wanted them to do and the place must always remain live for that was the idea in the original conception [of Fenway Court] and in the execution of the idea, a living message of beauty in art to each generation” [Olga Monks, in a letter shortly after Gardner’s death, quoted in Boston Women’s Heritage Trail: Seven Self-Guided Walks Through Four Centuries of Boston Women’s History, p. 59]. Olga carried on Isabella Stewart Gardner’s vibrant legacy. Bob Monks, her grandson, related a story of meeting former mayor of Boston James Michael Curley, who told the younger Monks: “You must be Olga Monks’ grandson. You know, when we put parking meters in the Back Bay, there was no meter in front of her house. I believe there are some people who should enjoy the freedom of the city forever” [A Traitor to His Class (1999), p. 4].
Promenade Among the Blossoms,
Oil on canvas, 30¼ x 25 inches Signed lower right: Th Robinson
provenance Private collection, until 1984; to [Christie’s, New York, June 1, 1984, lot 191] to; Linda and Harvey Saligman, St. Louis; to The Saligman Trust, until the present
exhibited The Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, 2004, In Monet’s Light: Theodore Robinson at Giverny Sona Johnston, In Monet’s Light: Theodore Robinson at Giverny (2004) // James D. Burke, Saint Louis: Painting Sculpture Decorative Arts: The Saligman Collection (2012), p. 140–41, 209, illus. in color
Theodore Robinson established himself as one of the preeminent American practitioners of impressionism after studying in Paris in the 1870s under Jean-Léon Gérôme and Charles Durand. Unlike his contemporaries Mary Cassatt and John Singer Sargent, Robinson returned to the United States to work, but he remained attuned to the dialogue between French and American impressionist ideals. He made several other trips to Europe, including an extended stay beginning in 1884, along with summer excursions to Giverny in 1887 and 1892. Giverny, where Claude Monet made his garden and studio, was a locus of impressionism, drawing pilgrims from both Europe and the United States. Among the latter were Robert Vonnoh, John Leslie Breck, Theodore Wendel, and Robinson himself. Robinson’s work took an important turn in the early 1890s, reaching both new critical acclaim and aesthetic growth towards his mature impressionist style. The broken brushstroke and emboldened palette are chief among his personal innovations. Following his appreciation for Camille Pissarro, Robinson pursued subjects of agricultural and everyday life in his work. Pissarro lived near Giverny, and Robinson recorded the Dutch–French painter’s visit to the artist colony in September of 1892. At Giverny Robinson could not have escaped Monet’s preference for decorative gardens over functional farms, and by the 1890s his work was shifting thematically in such a direction. The present work was executed at the beginning of this prodigious decade. It was likely executed around the same time as a related canvas, In the Orchard [private collection], dated 1891. The two share a shift towards idyllic gardens, the orchard setting a middle-ground between a working farm and a strictly beautiful flower garden. Although the woman and her child are dressed in peasant attire, the scene is certainly not one of arduous labor. It rather depicts simple beauty in rustic environs. The elegance of the comingling of labor and leisure and figure and landscape is notable when considered in contrast to other leading lights of the field. While Cassatt placed her tableaus of women with children in quotidian indoor scenes, Robinson here situated his figures in the full brilliant outdoor light. Monet’s garden paintings, on the other hand, are famously devoid of figure. Robinson is responsible, here and elsewhere, for bringing together these elements into a harmony of color, light, and theme that would set the standard for American impressionism to come.
Frank W. Benson
8. Winter Scene, 1934 Watercolor on paper, 19 x 24 inches (sight) Signed and dated at lower left: F W Benson / 34
provenance The artist; to John Benson, the artist’s brother; By descent in the family, until the present
A native of Salem, Massachusetts, Frank Benson was a key American impressionist, his style winning wide popularity for its themes of sharply dressed women and the bucolic outdoors. Benson’s gifts of color and draftsmanship were evident at a young age, but his early and lasting commercial success was as much a product of Benson’s tireless dedication to his craft. Like other impressionists working in New England, he pursued an education at the Académie Julian, embarking for Paris in 1883. Some of his early successes back in the United States were described as impressionist due to his focus on light and color, but it was not until the 1890s that he fully bloomed in that style. A member of the National Academy and the Society of American Artists, Benson joined other Boston-area painters to break from the conservative ways of the Academy, in a group that was dubbed The Ten. While Benson himself was not prone to radical schisms, the much publicized break certainly solidified Benson’s relations with others of the group, including Edmund Tarbell, William Merritt Chase, and John Henry Twachtman. Other members of the group had varying degrees of success, but Benson enjoyed popularity and patronage, winning awards and critical acclaim throughout his career. His style was molded partly by his peers, with whom he often went hunting and fishing, but in critical acclaim he largely surpassed them. The present work is exemplary of Benson’s vibrant outdoor scenes. Like his sporting masterpieces, the crisp atmosphere of the scenery is palpable in the work’s rapid, confident execution. He most likely executed the watercolor en plein air, giving it added spontaneity and freshness. As with the watercolors of John Singer Sargent, the aqueous medium demonstrates the hand of a true master at work.
William Paxton 9.
The Croquet Players,
Oil on canvas, 33 x 21 inches Signed at lower right: PAXTON
provenance The artist; to [Vose Galleries, Inc., Boston]; to Mr. Theodore Valsam; to Mrs. Robert Douglas; to [Berry-Hill Galleries, New York]; to Private collection, Michigan
exhibited Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indiana; El Paso Museum of Art, Texas; Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, Nebraska; Museum of Fine Art, Springfield, Massachusetts, William McGregor Paxton, August 15, 1978– 1979 // Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle, American Impressionism, January–March 1980
literature William H. Gerdts, American Impressionism (1980), pp. 13, 134, illus. // William H. Gerdts, American Impressionism (1984), Abbeville Press Publishers, p. 200, 208, illus. // Lisa N. Peters, Visions of Home: American Impressionist Images of Suburban Leisure and Country Comfort (1997), pp. 24, 25, illus.
William Paxton was born in Baltimore in 1869, but, following his family’s move to New England in his childhood, he lived and worked in greater Boston for the rest of his life. He was instrumental in the formulation of the Boston impressionist mode, establishing along with Edmund Tarbell a highly-polished motif of sophisticated women at leisure. Paxton’s contribution is echoed and affirmed in the work of colleagues Joseph De Camp (1858–1923) and Frank W. Benson (1862–1951). Like several of his peers in the Boston school, he studied in Paris under Jean-Léon Gérôme, at École des Beaux-Arts, and at Académie Julian. Stateside, he also studied with the brilliant Dennis Miller Bunker in the 1880s. Much of his work, especially from the 1910s on, is sharply executed, in a vein that scholar William Gerdts traces to Tarbell’s admiration of the Dutch master Jan Vermeer. Paxton only increased his efforts toward these glassy, varnished surfaces as his career progressed, in contrast to many of his peers, who loosened and relaxed their idealized realism in the early twentieth century. Paxton’s early work is more emphatically impressionist, using brilliant outdoor daylight in a manner similar to Frank Benson. Paxton’s celebrated 1902 work The White Veranda [private collection] is radiant with this light and a broken stroke. Much of Paxton’s early work was destroyed in the 1904 fire that gutted Paxton’s studio. Few of the works from before 1900 have survived. The Croquet Players is often reproduced and cited in surveys of American impressionism. It is a beacon of American impressionism, if not the crowning achievement of Paxton’s career.
Outdoor Stage, Paris,
Pastel on board 11½ x 13¼ inches Signed at upper left: E SHINN
provenance The artist; to [Graham Galleries, New York, until 1952]; to [M. Knoedler and Co., New York]; to Mr. and Mrs. Edward Marlin, New York, about 1959; to [Richard York Gallery, New York]; to Private collection, New York State; to [Richard York Gallery, New York, by 1986]; to Linda and Harvey Saligman, St. Louis; to The Saligman Trust, until the present
exhibited American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York, 1959, The Impressionist Mood in American Paintings // Richard York Gallery, New York, 1986, An American Gallery, no. 19 // Berry-Hill Galleries, New York, 2001, Everett Shinn: The Spectacle of Life, no. 54, lent by a private collection
literature Edith de Shazo, Everett Shinn 1876–1953: A Figure in His Time (1974) // Janay Wong, Everett Shinn: The Spectacle of Life (2000), p. 168, illus., pl. 54 // James D. Burke, Saint Louis: Painting Sculpture Decorative Arts: The Saligman Collection (2012), p. 148–149, illus.
Everett Shinn was a key figure in the turn of the century realist group that would come to be known as the Ashcan School. Born in New Jersey, Shinn received his artistic training at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and by age 17 had begun his career in illustration with the Philadelphia Press. This vocation proved as instructive to his fine art career as any formal training. The newspaper and magazine work served not only to pay the bills, but also as the core of his artistic practices and subject matter. Shinn’s newspaper work introduced him to George Luks, John Sloan, and William Glackens. By 1898, Shinn had moved to New York, where he and the rest of the Philadelphia Four joined the group growing around Robert Henri. Shinn’s first solo exhibition was in 1900 at Boussod, Valadon & Co., New York, a successful venture in which 30 of 44 works were sold. This gallery relationship allowed Shinn to do what American artists had considered essential training to that point: visit Europe to complete study and catch up on the latest trends. Shinn’s mature work gained from his European trip the confidence of a new aesthetic direction, affirming a thread of picture-making from Honoré Daumier to Degas and Mary Cassatt; a departure from some of the softness in color and subject matter that had been the hallmark of French impressionism, and was in growing favor in the United States. Shinn extended these lessons into his own work, going beyond Degas’s dancers to illustrate the audience in his compositions as well as the performer. Outdoor Stage, Paris came during or just on the heels of Shinn’s first trip abroad. The lessons are in full evidence: the radiant light and vibrant line, the careful balance of electric blues and greens against rich black and white highlights. The composition brings together his earlier scenes of streets and parks with the high-drama lighting of the stage. Shinn would return to the stage for subject matter, in oil and in pastel, throughout his career, but this early expression of his mature form shows the artist’s mastery at an early age.
Green Park, London,
Pastel on paper, 7 x 13 inches Signed lower right: EVERETT SHINN
provenance Estate of the artist; to [Graham Gallery, New York]; [Sotheby Parke Bernet, New York, 1978]; to Linda and Harvey Saligman, St. Louis; to The Saligman Trust, until the present
exhibited James Graham & Sons, New York, 1958, Everett Shinn, Arthur B. Davies // St. Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, 1982, Impressionism Reflected: American Art, 1890 –1920 // Berry-Hill Galleries, New York, 2001, Everett Shinn: The Spectacle of Life
literature Janay Wong, Everett Shinn: The Spectacle of Life (2000), p. 57 // James D. Burke, Saint Louis: Painting Sculpture Decorative Arts: The Saligman Collection (2012), pp. 150–151, illus. in color p. 150
Green Park, London, was completed at the apex of the Ashcan moment, in 1908. Its subject matter, however, was culled from Shinn’s earlier trip abroad. While the artist exhibited a work in 1901 at Boussod, Valadon [Green Park, (London)], he returned to unfinished sketches seven years later to give a fresh look at this fruitful expedition. Shinn produced two such works in 1908, working to a finish from previous sketches. The other work [Green Park, London, 1908, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts] showed a similar group of idlers looking more disheveled and exhausted. The present work retains the brilliant color and light that inflected his work directly following the European trip, but in many ways the return to this subject matter is a repudiation of the gaiety of Shinn’s earlier products of the trip. At the height of The Eight’s influence, Shinn was returning his focus to the downtrodden, revising some of his other reminiscences of Europe to include not just the glamorous, but also the indigent. Throughout his career—which countenanced the Great Depression and the two World Wars—he would go deeper into the bleak description of poverty, but here he powerfully depicts the scene with the frankness and vitality that propelled the Ashcan school to success.
Marsden Hartley 12.
Still Life No. 17,
Oil on panel, 11¾ x 11½ inches
provenance The artist; to Alfred Stieglitz, New York; to His estate, in 1946; to Hudson Walker, New York, by 1949; to Private collection, New York, by 1953; Thence by descent in the family to the present owner
exhibited The Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession, New York, 1911, Exhibition of Recent Paintings and Drawings by Marsden Hartley
Marsden Hartley was one of the pillars of early American modernism, producing densely meaningful still lifes, landscapes, and Symbolist constructions that influenced generations on both sides of the Atlantic. His career moved through several stylistic phases, throughout which he met with consistent critical acclaim. His commercial and emotional lives, however, ranged widely. A core unhappiness and a troubled romantic life sent him traveling much of his life. He never felt at home in New York or his native Maine, but nonetheless returned to these from his many odysseys to Europe and the American Southwest. His best-known works, from the early 1910s, are elegiac still-lifes and quasi-cubist arrangements, simultaneously naïve and sophisticated, drenched in the excess emotion of one of the most complicated painters of the first half of the twentieth century. Hartley met Alfred Stieglitz in 1909. While Hartley’s lifelong wanderlust prevented him from joining the inner circle of Stieglitz’s “291” stable, the two nonetheless remained very close, frequently corresponding through letters for the rest of Hartley’s life. While Hartley enjoyed periods of great commercial success throughout his career, he was just as routinely broke, and he often relied upon Stieglitz’s support to help him through the lean times. From the early 1910s to the late 1930s, the dealer obliged Harley’s pleas. After their business relationship dissolved following a sale-less 1937 solo show, the two maintained a friendship and extensive communications. Hartley’s aloofness and an icy relationship with Stieglitz’s lieutenant Edward Steichen made him a difficult member of the circle, but Stieglitz supported the artist with his characteristic single-mindedness. Over the decades, Stieglitz included the painter in 17 shows, half of these monographic exhibitions, including a momentous auction of 117 works at Anderson Galleries in 1921 that temporarily averted Hartley’s financial ruin. When there were insufficient sales to cover Stieglitz’s advances, the gallerist took payment in the form of works by the artist. Stieglitz sometimes worried that this faith was misplaced, confiding to Arthur Dove, “I can’t let [Hartley] suffocate either Georgia or myself, and I fear that he might do that if I’m not careful” [quoted in Lisa Mintz, Stieglitz and His Artists (2011), p. 131]. That this arrangement continued for decades is testament to Stieglitz’s abiding faith in the artist through thick and thin. Hartley noted that Stieglitz had been planning a show in 1935, “a small retrospective of my things— many of which he owns—from the first beginning in 1910 and on” [ibid., p. 131]. The
flat note that their business relations ended on in 1937 left Stieglitz with a strong collection of Hartley’s work from across his career. Some of these, including the present work, were sold at the time of Stieglitz’s death, while a number were split among the five institutions to which the Stieglitz estate was distributed. Any other dealer might have been left with least-saleable of the works, but Stieglitz’s irascible opposition to good business sense left him in the reverse condition. “[Hartley] wanted a dealer,” Stieglitz wrote. “And I could not become a dealer” [ibid., p. 131]. That failing left Stieglitz with the cream of the crop, including the celebrated Portrait of a German Officer, now in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In the 1911–12 season of “291,” Hartley exhibited “drawings . . . in black and white and landscapes,” as well as “still lifes and a portrait of a prominent academician” [Modern Art and America: Alfred Stieglitz and His New York Galleries (2000), p. 545]. Among these still lifes was the present work, a small oil on panel. The panel itself has an irregular convex shape. This sort of rough-hewn support was used throughout the artist’s career, an aesthetic and technical complement to his thick impasto and bulging modernist forms. While a checklist has not been located for this show, Hartley worked furiously and almost always exhibited only new work with Stieglitz. The work would not have been shown in the 1917 Hartley show [ibid., p. 547], and the many later solo shows and group shows sponsored by Stieglitz would all have featured more recent work. Further, the artist took several opportunities to destroy as much of his own work as he could, the outburst of his lifelong financial and existential woes. It is a stroke of further luck that Stieglitz’s stewardship over this and other pieces saved them from destruction at their maker’s hands. The verso of the work’s original frame is marked “1928?” with the initials “E. McC.” These are the notations of the art critic and historian Elizabeth McCausland, who examined the work in June of 1953. While she has ascribed the date of 1928, Hartley scholar Gail R. Scott has conf irmed the date as much earlier, c. 1911. Furthermore, this work would not have been in Hartley’s 1929 show, which presented recent works painted in Aix-en-Provence of a different character entirely. (And the later shows, after a hiatus of several years, in 1936 and 1937 presented “alpine” views and work from Nova Scotia). The McCausland dating may have stemmed from confusion about Hartley’s numbering. While the numbering is certainly Hartley’s own, he at several points in his career started his numbering anew. The present work should properly be considered as belonging to the early years of the 1910s. We are grateful to Gail Scott, who is writing a monograph on the artist, for her help in cataloging this work.
George Wesley Bellows 13.
Portrait of Florence Budd,
Oil on panel, 38 x 30 inches Signed and inscribed on verso: Portrait of Florence Budd / Geo. Bellows / 146 E 19 St. / New York
provenance The artist; to His estate, in 1925; to Emma S. Bellows, his widow; to The estate of Emma S. Bellows, in 1959; to [H.V. Allison & Co., New York]; to Private collection, Dallas, Texas, in 1983, until the present
literature Glenn Peck, George Bellows’ Catalogue Raisonné, H. V. Allison & Co., digital: http://www.hvallison.com This work is recorded in the artist’s notebooks, which are in the Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio.
The Ohio-born painter George Bellows is perhaps best known for boxing pictures, but in his tragically abbreviated career, he produced only six paintings on the subject. In a career totaling nearly 600 canvases, his sporting pictures, while popular, were vastly outnumbered by his landscapes, portraits, and genre works. The sporting pictures are easily grouped together, a category of energetic Ashcan works that Bellows pioneered and largely exhausted. The remaining majority of his work is not so easily categorized. Landscape gives way to genre, figure study resolves into portraiture, portraiture retreating into landscape once more. During his lifetime, Bellows won virtually every accolade for which he was eligible, and the hastily-arranged retrospective upon his untimely death demonstrated the high regard in which the full range of his body of work was held. Nonetheless, his reputation, throughout the middle of the century, focused on his early pictures of masculine pursuits. He had success as a printmaker, and even during his lifetime, the public appetite for prints of boxing imagery was voracious. In recent years, Bellows’ full body of work has received renewed attention and acclaim. His contributions to American painting are not limited to his critical success as an Ashcan painter. His moody entanglements of human form and landscape prefigure Edward Hopper’s work as well as pave a way forward for the regionalists of the 1930s. He offered a profoundly American take on Manet and Goya, offering a vision of painting that is both timeless and strikingly modern today. In 1911, Robert Henri invited Bellows to join him for the summer on the Maine island of Monhegan, an artist colony since the late 19th century. Of Monhegan, Henri declared he had “never seen anything so fine. . . . It is a wonderful place to paint—so much in so small a place one can hardly believe it.” A small place indeed, the island is roughly two square miles, and yet its rocky terrain has nurtured the imaginations of Rockwell Kent, Edward Hopper, and George Bellows, on top of its year-round fisherman population, seasonal artists, and day-trippers from Booth Bay. Bellows’ trip to Monhegan marked the beginning of such escapes from the sweaty urban cauldron of the city, and for the first time he was producing seascapes painted at the rocky water’s edge. He would continue to summer there for the rest of the decade, becoming friends with some of the few year-round locals and developing at times a breathtaking output of work. 1913’s Armory Show shook up all of American art. While other Ashcan artists were buried under the avalanche arrival of modernism, Bellows thrived at the turning point. He produced no work during the months the exhibition was up—rather, he attended the show every day. He demurred from some of its radical aspects, but it certainly absorbed him. Although Bellows had early on attempted portraiture in the form of boys in the street, these works had attracted less attention than his genre and landscape work. After the 1913 Armory Show, Bellows set himself the task of elevating this sector of his work during his summer sequester on Monhegan.
Between the quiet island life, the Armory Show, and new fatherhood, 1913 and 1914 presented a bellwether in Bellows’ work in portraiture and figure study. He sought to establish himself in the canon of Sargent and Chase in terms of portraiture that stood on its own, rather than relying on the importance of the sitter. The majority of Bellows’ portraits are of men, but on Monhegan he limited himself for the first time to female models. The small island population—even during the “booming” summer season—further restricted his choice of models, while the roaring surf and a budding interest en plein air painting drew the painter’s attention mainly outdoors. This small community was ideal for Bellows’ concerns; his subjects were “regular people” without being anonymous. The formal portraits for which Bellows was commissioned were sometimes met with disapproval—most notoriously in the rejection of Judge Peter J. Olney, No. 2, in 1915. His body of work in 1914, however, was quite opposite this stony-faced statesman, instead consisting of familiar character studies; the sitter’s inner life laid bare through exploration of his or her relationship with the painter. He absorbed examples from Velazquez and Manet to help create a space of intimacy and subtlety, far from the galloping virility his early sporting pictures demonstrate. The “boldness that is almost subtle” had given way to a more sensitive understanding, with no sacrifice in color and animation. The present work depicts one of two daughters in a family that lived on the island at least part of the year. The Budd family lived nearby the house where Bellows and his own family were staying. Florence’s sister, Margaret Budd, sat for Bellows in the same summer. (Margaret Budd, July, 1914, collection William Poplack, Detroit, Michigan) The Budds were friendly with the Bellows family, and the painter would have executed these works on days too inclement to work out of doors. The studies of the two sisters interestingly echo the studies of the artist’s own daughters, Anne and Jean. Bellows’ desire to achieve a Sargent-like elegance is perhaps here sidestepped by the earnest honesty of the portrait, particularly of the present work. Where Sargent’s treatment of costume and glamour tends to distance and eroticize his female subjects, the painting of Florence Budd is clearly the work of a devoted husband and father of two daughters. The Budds may have been solely summer visitors, but just as likely, Emma and Florence were daughters of year-round residents of the island. According to the Jennifer Pye, curator of the Monhegan Museum: The Budd cottage (it was actually quite grand—not what you think of when one says “cottage”) was located at the top of Burnt Head. Monhegan is a cluster community with the town centered around the harbor that is created by Manana. Burnt Head is on the other side of the island which has the highest cliffs on the east coast [Menconi + Schoelkopf archives, March 31, 2014]. In 1954, Theodore Edison (son of the inventor), a long-time summer visitor to the island) bought up 300 acres of the island to establish a land trust. The Budd house was dismantled shortly thereafter. The work remains in its original frame. The elegant frame is typical of the kind that Bellows preferred. Based on records of the 1925 retrospective at the Metropolitan, framing scholars Charles Brock and Suzanne Smeaton have identified three common frame styles that Bellows used throughout his career: by an unidentified frame-maker, by Albert Milch, and by M. Grieve & Co. The present work is an example of the latter of these. Smeaton describes the molding: The ‘A’ profile . . . can be seen as a modern-day interpretation of a reeded moulding: in this case the repeating parallel lines are carved in undulant uneven strokes that are more exaggerated in size than traditional reeded mouldings. The progression of parallel passages also vary in width and incorporate a soft curve as the frame slopes from its highest point at the outermost top rail down toward the sight edge and display the pleasing irregularities of a hand-carved frame. The sumptuous, inflated characteristics of the frame provide a sympathetic enclosure for Bellows’s lush brushwork [Smeaton, “Framing George Bellows: Ashcan artist,” June 15, 2013].
14. Trees and Hillside, 1913 Oil on canvas, 25 x 22 inches Signed at lower right
provenance The artist; to Mrs. Sarah E. Shaw; to Mr. Edison H. Shaw; to [Christie’s, New York, lot 225, 1996]; to Dr. J. Randolph Lewis, Davenport, Iowa, in 1996; to [D. Wigmore Fine Art, New York, 2006]; to Private collection, Atlanta, until the present
exhibited High Museum of Art, Atlanta, 2011, John Marin’s Watercolors: A Medium of Modernism
literature Sheldon Reich, John Marin: A Stylistic Analysis and Catalogue Raisonné (1970), Vol. II, p. 384, no. 16.77 // Larry Shutts, “John Marin in Castorland, Vibrantly,” Art Conservator, Vol. 6, No. 1, 2011, p. 17, illus. in color
John Marin holds an important position in American art, having begun his art-making under the spell of Whistler and concluding as the godfather of Abstract Expressionism. Born in 1880 in Rutherford, New Jersey, Marin did not commit himself to art as a career until around age 30. By 1910, the support of Alfred Stieglitz propelled him to Europe, where the seeds of his modernist conversion were planted. Marin, characteristically glib, wrote that he “played some billiards, incidentally knocked out some batches of etchings” [quoted in John I. H. Baur, John Marin’s New York (1981)]. But certainly the etcher also found time to absorb the proto-cubist works of Cézanne and Robert Delaunay. The following year, his work progressed rapidly, from the hazy washes of a nineteenth-century graphic aesthetic to the semiabstracted explosions of line, form, and color for which he would soon become famous. He married in 1911, and bought a home in Cliffside, New Jersey, in 1920. He wrote often and effervescently to his friend Stieglitz, who would remain his dealer until the latter’s death. He found his way from etching to watercolor, which would remain his favored medium, and, later, to oil painting. Of the some three thousand works he produced, the vast majority—probably around 2,500—are watercolors. His contributions to painting on canvas are equally if not more important. By 1950, he was among America’s favorite painters, just as the world was coming to recognize the New York School as the tremendous force that it came to be. John Marin is probably alone in being a favorite artist of Alfred Stieglitz, Clement Greenberg, and Peggy Guggenheim, and is certainly among the most important painters of the twentieth century. Stieglitz mounted more solo exhibitions for Marin than any other artist, but it was not until 1930 that he mounted the first show of Marin oils, such was his reputation as a watercolorist. Marin would utilize oil at several points in his career—notably in the Weehawken Sequence of 1916, again in the early 1930s, and late in his paintedframe oils at the end of his life.
In 1913, Marin summered in Castorland, New York, with his wife and aunt. Aunt Jennie reported that the painter suffered from a bad stomach and over-priced mutton, and produced only 15 works while there—a trickle of output for a generally prolific artist. The present work, Trees and Hillside, was one of the very few oils painted that summer, and one of the earliest oils in Marin’s career. The work demonstrates all of the power of his watercolors as well as being one of the earliest examples of fauvist color, by Marin or indeed anyone else in America. The spontaneity of the watercolor medium certainly plays to the strengths of an artist of Marin’s confidence and energy, but the oil too demonstrates special advantages. Of the handful of oils Marin executed in Castorland, several have very thin paint, as if the artist were painting with watercolor. In the present work, he varies the thickness of the paint, also taking advantage of Cézanne’s technique of leaving areas of canvas entirely untouched. Clement Greenberg, while admiring Marin’s watercolors, noted that “The oils are stronger, ampler, more temperamental, and this is not altogether because their medium is heavier. . . . The evidence here is that of a great mastery” [Greenberg, The Nation, 1948]. Marin continued to work in oil the rest of his life, and it was this move to canvas—and to larger scales—that placed him in the eye of coming generations of painters. He would later experiment with incising and painting his own frames, expanding his painterly purview beyond the picture itself. The early years of the 1910s are regarded as among his most important, when he painted with the full strength and abandon he had mastered in watercolor.
Arthur B. Carles
15. Bouquet of Flowers (Still Life with Flowers), c. 1927 Oil on canvas, 34 x 40 inches Signed on stretcher bar: Carles Inscribed on stretcher bar: Mrs. Carles
provenance [Hollis Taggart Galleries, New York, 2009]; to Private collection, until the present
exhibited Graham Gallery, New York, 1959, Arthur Carles // Hollis Taggart Galleries, New York, 2009, Marking Modernism: A Decade with Carles, Dawson, and Maurer
Arthur B. Carles was among the most innovative practitioners of early American modernism, establishing himself both as a highly successful painter and teacher. Born in Philadelphia and living much of his early life in the same neighborhood as Thomas Eakins, Carles embodied much of the same contrarian and daredevil spirit of the elder painter. While he was beloved by students and his paintings were prized in their day, he often found himself in conflict with authority and disdained conventional avenues. If this spirit dimmed his financial prospects, it also elevated the success and ambition of his paintings well beyond many of his cohort’s. For his brightlycolored pictures that verge on abstraction, he is sometimes classified among the Synchromists. His involvement with Philadelphia art circles earned him membership in the brief modernist f lourishing of that city. Furthermore, his friendship with Alfred Stieglitz and his European connections put him also on the forefront of a more cosmopolitan modernist movement than that offered by Philadelphia. He never moved entirely into abstraction, remarking, “I think that when a painting gets so concrete, that it looks so much like itself that it doesn’t look like anything else, ‘abstract’ is a hell of a word for it” [quoted in The Orchestration of Color: The Paintings of Arthur B. Carles (2000), p. 63]. Nonetheless, his explosive canvases show the broad influence of Wassily Kandinsky, as well as post-impressionists, fauves, and, late in his career, cubists. A painter of broad technical and aesthetic gifts, he is one of the category-defying visionaries of American art. Influential in many channels, Carles produced a tremendous body of work and left a wake of profound influence. Carles studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts from 1901 to 1907, a time of shifting allegiances at the prestigious school. His instructors included both Thomas Anshutz and William Merritt Chase, and his early work reflects this Realist education: tonalist portraiture approach, distinctly nineteenth century in temperament. Early success in this manner, such as the prize winning Portrait of Mrs. Carles and Sara (1907, promised gift, Woodmere Art Museum, Philadelphia) demonstrate his superfluity of talent in draftsmanship, form, and light. It also demonstrated that his first trip to Europe in 1905 had not yet converted him to the new way of seeing and painting that would consume his next trip. How Carles came to live with Alfred Maurer in Paris in 1907 is unknown, but it is certain that the older painter introduced him to the key players of rising modernism, including Gertrude and Leo Stein, the work of Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso, and, importantly, to the American expat painters Eduard Steichen and John Marin. These last became Carles’s best friends in Paris, completing a ring of enterprising painters that would be the first proponents of a brisk avant-garde growing in New York around Alfred Stieglitz’s “291” gallery. While Marin was still forming his lexicon of forms and colors, Steichen
would serve as Stieglitz’s chief lieutenant abroad, serving both as a guiding light for New Yorkers on pilgrimage and also a funnel for talent and vision back to Stieglitz in New York. Carles made great use of both of these functions. While he was swept up into the current of modernism along with Max Weber, Arthur Dove, Marin, and Steichen, he was never swallowed by Stieglitz’s wake. (The gallerist-dealer showed Carles’s work on several occasions, but neither the artist nor art historians considered him a member of the inner Stieglitz circle.) Carles had his own trail to blaze. Blaze he did. His conversion to a modernist idiom was not instantaneous, but a measured and thoughtful realignment. While he devoured Matisse and the fauves, he simultaneously toiled at a commissioned copy of Raphael’s Transfiguration. Faithful in its execution, the copy was completed in 1910, around the same time Carles’s first fauvist canvases appear. His commitment to a Renaissance lineage is important: modernism was not a radical break or a revolution, but an extension. He continued to paint nudes, still lifes, and landscapes, albeit in increasingly daring idioms. In the early teens, he continued to use traditional chiaroscuro to model form. He would later move toward a color modeling technique following Cézanne, gracefully varying these devices through the 1920s. By the mid 1920s, Carles was dismissed by the Pennsylvania Academy of Arts, a decision motivated at least in part by Carles’s lifelong struggle with alcoholism. (After drinking liquor of questionable origins, the painter even became partially blind for a period.) In the following decade, Carles took up a cubist idiom, combining his ringing colors with a Braque- and Picassolike prism of sharply delineated planes. The late pictures garnered extensive critical attention, but won few sales. The deaths of friends and the difficult economic climate turned the artist once more to the consolation of alcohol. Depression and drink may have contributed to his stumbling accident in 1941 which left him partially paralyzed. He lived to see the next decade, when many of his radical ideas, chromatic and structural, would be embraced by the exploding New York School of painting, but his last pictures had been completed by 1935, placing him far ahead of his time. The present work is among his finest still lifes. Painted in the heart of his career, Still Life with Flowers evinces the painter’s unabating mastery of color. Here he has moved away from the Cézanne–Matisse mode, eliminating characteristic bounding lines to give light free reign through unbridled color. Floral arrangements were among the artist’s favorite subjects, one to which he returned multiple times in the 1920s. Just as he never left observation as the cornerstone of his painting practice, he considered the still life as a vehicle for engaging dramatic painting technique. Some still lifes are simply entitled Color Arrangement, suggesting that the dominant subject of the canvas was the paint itself. The present case, with its mirror in the background and carefully articulated individual blossoms, remains clearly an arrangement of flowers, but it readily gives way to Carles’s adventurous eye. While many artists of the era worked up the surface in a uniform application of paint, Carles hewed to an older tradition of building up paint in a variety of volumes. The viridian ground is applied very thinly, almost as a stain, while the vibrant flowers are built of generous daubs. John Marin wrote of Carles, “He must have sensed, as those capable knew, that he had a beautiful color sense—which he put down in flowing streams—a real lover of paint—as paint” [quoted by Henry G. Gardiner in Arthur B. Carles (1970), p. 181]. This love for paint as paint reaches full expression in these and other canvases of the mid-twenties.
Arthur B. Carles
16. Untitled Still Life, c. 1910–12 Oil on panel, 13 x 16½ inches Signed at lower right: Carles Signed on verso of panel: Carles
provenance The artist; to His daughter, Mercedes Matter; to [Avery Galleries, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania]; to Simon Parkes, New York; to Private collection, until the present
Although he moved through various periods—tonalism to fauvism to cubism— Arthur Carles grew as an artist in an evolutionary manner, adding new techniques rather than remaking himself entirely in each phase. He often employed his past repertoire of devices in concert with his newest interests, balancing a variety of styles in a single canvas. The present work is a striking example of the artist’s early mastery of still life in the fauvist vein. Because he returned again and again to older maneuvers, it is sometimes difficult to date Carles’s work. The present still life’s origin is clear: it is certainly from his earliest fauvist period, when his fauvist predilections were strongest. The broken marks, borrowed from André Derain and Henri Matisse, add color to a cautiously addressed middle-ground. The palette of viridian, alizarin, and Prussian blue are straight from the Matisse–Cézanne cookbook, but here applied with Carles’s own virtuosic flourish. Beginning in 1908, Carles stayed in a village outside of Paris named Voulangis par Crecy-en-Brie, and sometime after arriving there, Carles bought a quantity of small wooden panels. In three sizes, the panels were beveled in a low grade, making them convenient to fit into a plein air paint box. Between 1908 and 1912, Carles made a series of on-site paintings on these Parisianmanufactured panels. The present work is on such a panel, and while it is possible that it was painted slightly later, it is unlikely that he transported any significant number of untouched panels back to Philadelphia after his tenure in Voulangis. The style, technique, and support all suggest the work was completed either in 1910–12 or around 1922, the only other time he would have been working on panel in this fashion. While he pursued other methods and media in the interim and afterwards, the early years of both decades were explosively successful times for the artist.
Elie Nadelman 17.
Galvano-plastique, 25½ x 20½ x 8½ inches
provenance The artist; By descent in the family, until the present
exhibited (probably) Knoedler & Co., New York, and Gallerie Bernheim-Jeune, Paris, 1927, Elie Nadelman Galvano-Plastiques // Salander-O’Reilly Galleries, New York, 2001, Elie Nadelman Galvano Plastiques, no. 8, illus. in color
literature Lincoln Kirstein, Elie Nadelman (1973), p. 292, no. 54 //Cynthia Nadelman, Elie Nadelman: GalvanoPlastiques (2001), Salander-O’Reilly, New York // Barbara Hasekell, Elie Nadelman: Sculptor of Modern Life (2003), pp. 157–158, 166
Elie Nadelman, born in 1882 in Warsaw, adapted classical sculpture through a modernist lens. He explored the human figure with an eye to geometric purity and underlying form, and discovered structures common to both Greco-Roman sculpture and American folk carvings. This distillation allowed him to produce work that reads simultaneously as traditional and briskly modern. The technique of galvano-plastique, a form of electroplating, was developed in nineteenth-century France as an industrial process. The chief value of this process for sculpture is that the casting can be performed at room temperature. A pliable, unbaked work can be cast with exceptional fidelity. A mold is made of the original, and that mold is coated with graphite. The mold is then placed into an electrolytic bath, along with a copper source. When the graphite is electrified, it draws the copper onto the mold until a desired thickness is achieved. When the mold is removed, the sculpture has remarkable surface fidelity to the wet clay model, as evidenced here in the brilliant hashing line work. Nadelman used the technique for his own purposes. Working from a plaster model, the artist electroplated the surface of the work directly, rather than using an intermediary mold. The result is a very fine layer of bronze concealing a core of the original plaster, which remains visible in the base and certain areas of the verso of the present work. This thin layer of metallic alloy preserves the artist’s minute carving marks in remarkable fidelity. Nadelman then applied polychromatic pigment to the bronze surface. Very minimal marks denoting eyes and lips are visible in the period photos of these works when they were first produced. The metallic alloy over time absorbs pigment, leaving a rich yet subtle hint of the original marks. Nadelman admired the galvano process not for its reproduction possibilities but for exactly this rich patina and surface quality. He did not consider these works models for later casting in conventional bronze. Today, Nadelman is well represented in prominent collections as one of the most important and unique voices in the f irst half of the twentieth century.
18. Horse Grazing, 1937 Oil on canvas, 26 x 33 inches Signed at lower right: Milton Avery
provenance The artist, to His estate; to Robert Kidd Gallery, Birmingham, Michigan; to Private collection, Michigan
exhibited Harmon-Meek Gallery, Naples, Florida, 1994, Milton Avery: Ebb and Flow: A Survey of Works on Paper // Cornell Fine Arts Museum, 1998, Milton Avery’s “Ebb & Flow,” no. 41 // George Krevsky Fine Art, San Francisco, 2002, Milton Avery: Master of American Modernism
Milton Avery occupies a special place in art history as both a uniquely American, twentieth-century update of Matisse and a favored companion of the Abstract Expressionists, while never jumping into abstraction himself. His masterful use of color is often compared to Marc Rothko, but his work retains an element of depiction. With color as his vehicle, he used a variety of techniques to soften line and subvert drawing while still alluding to depth and form. By the post-war years, Avery’s style had crossed boundaries and conquered tastemakers, and he remains one of the most valued and influential painters of the century. The present work was painted in 1937, during which time Milton and his wife Sally were summering in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Gloucester at the time was crowded with painters, including artists that shared subject matter with Avery, including Stuart Davis, and painters that influenced Avery’s move towards color-field painting, Marc Rothko and Barnett Newman. During the late thirties, he also worked in southern Vermont. The rural and village environs afforded Avery the opportunity to paint pure landscapes. He had painted “bucolic landscapes” in 1929, but had spent much of the 1930s examining indoor, human subjects: circus acts, card players, and bathers. He composed the subject of Horse Grazing in at least two other canvases of the late thirties, and would return to the motif late in his life. The present work shows the lingering elements of modeling in the rounded forms, but already the swelling, vibrating colors characteristic of Avery’s finest work are present here at the dawn of his mature style.
19. Improvisation, c. 1911–13 Oil on board laid down on board, 15¾ x 18¾ inches Inscribed on the reverse by the artist’s daughter: Painted by my father between 1911–1913. Aileen B. Cramer, 6/4/69
provenance The artist; to His estate; to [Zabriskie Gallery, New York, after 1966]; to Mr. and Mrs. Henry M. Reed, New Jersey, by 1972; to [Robert Schoelkopf Gallery, New York]; to Harvey and Francoise Rambach, New Jersey, in 1980; to [Christie’s East, New York, 2000, Sale 10/4/2000, lot 149]; to Private collection, until the present
exhibited The Oakland Museum, California, and Fine Arts Gallery of San Diego, 1972, Color and Form: 1909–1914, no. 6 // Archer M. Huntington Art Gallery, University of Texas, Austin, and San Marino, California, 1983, Konrad Cramer Retrospective // Barbara Mathes Gallery, New York, 1985, Mabel Dodge, The Salon Years: 1912–1917 // Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 1984, Konrad Cramer: The Abstract Work
literature A.A. Davidson, 1981, Early American Modernist Painting 1910–1935 (1981), p. 154, no. 86, illus. // Gail Levin, “Konrad Cramer: Link from the German to the American Avant Garde,” Arts Magazine, 1982, p. 145, illus.
Konrad Cramer was born in Germany but worked his entire adult life in the United States, dividing his time between New York City and Woodstock, New York. His early life was spent in the German city of Wurtzberg, where his mother was an opera singer and his uncle was a successful painter of still lifes. He was exposed early in his education to the work of Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc. The former instilled in him a prescient view of the power of abstraction, and the latter, a fellow Bavarian, left a stylistic mark on young Cramer that would resurface again and again throughout his career. In 1911, Cramer met a young American named Florence Ballin, to whom he was swiftly married. Florence, also a painter, brought Konrad to New York, where she was studying painting at the Art Students League. Cramer brought his deep understanding of German Expressionism to the crucible of New York’s community of modernism. He worked in a variety of styles through his career, but the uniquely American synthesis of Bauhaus-esque design with vernacular subjects would be a lasting influence on American modernism and the Woodstock colony that he helped build. The present work was executed early in Cramer’s New York years. The influence of Der Blaue Reiter is still apparent, and in particular, the artist’s thinking was still greatly shaped by Wassily Kandinsky. While other artists—notably J. A. M. Whistler—alluded to musical themes in the titles of their work, Kandinsky moved the observation into an entire aesthetic theory in his 1910 treatise. When Cramer arrived from Germany bearing these ideas, nothing had prepared the New York art world for this insight. Cramer was, as the present work evinces, an inspired practitioner of this new mode, and by the time of the Armory Show in 1913, abstraction was already a force to be reckoned with. Konrad Cramer’s works in this 1911–13 period are of immense relevance to the development of American Modernism. His work in the ensuing years would become increasingly influenced by the growing Modernist community around Alfred Stieglitz’s “291” gallery and in the artist colony at Woodstock, New York, but the brisk and fertile period marked by his arrival in the United States is his most sought-after period.
20. Still Life with Tulips, c. 1929 Oil on board, 24 x 20 inches Inscribed by artist’s daughter on verso: Painted by my father, Konrad Cramer, c. 1929 Aileen Cramer
provenance The artist; by descent; to [Zabriskie Gallery, New York]; to Private collection, New York, until the present
After Cramer’s emigration to the United States in 1911, he divided much of his life between New York City and the growing artist community of Woodstock, NY. The upstate locale had become an artist destination, fueled in part by the establishment of the Byrdcliffe colony in 1903. By 1919, Woodstock painters Henry McFee and Andrew Dasburg helped found the Woodstock Artists Association. Dasburg and McFee both worked for a period in a Synchromist mode owing much to Cramer’s influence. Both painters took up Cramer’s practice of naming pieces with terminology borrowed from music, a practice Cramer brought to Woodstock from his early experiences with the German Blaue Reiter group. Cramer became a member of the Woodstock association early on, his presence instrumental in attracting others. Early membership included Ashcan artists such as Robert Henri and George Bellows. The region quickly developed its own distinctive, if highly diverse, aesthetic, owing both to the peaceful environs and to the radical modernists the region attracted. Cubist, precisionist, and surrealist derivations arrived in the works of Yasuo Kuniyoshi and George Ault. Cramer’s work embraced many of these flavors, and his mature work returned to figurative content, distilling collage and cubism and a rural vernacular precisionism that perhaps would not have developed anywhere else. Still Life with Tulips was completed at the end of the 1920s when Cramer was in the height of his mature form. The relationship to cubism is apparent—the upturned plane of the table, as well as the technique of “collaging” in faux-woodgrain, cribbed directly from George Braques. The heavy outlines of the forms are distinctly the artist’s own, and the playfully cubist renderings of country gas stations and post offices from the period all display the same painterly quality. Also notable is the relationship between the tabletop composition and the artist’s work in photography. Cramer is perhaps one of the great unsung heroes of abstraction in photography. He carefully built small tabletop compositions and then used a variety of novel techniques, including solarization and multiple-exposures, to create photographs that mimicked the early cubist paintings of Picasso and Braque. These photographs stood on their own as finished works, but these experiments in other media certainly fed in to the novel and vibrant play of form and color evident in the present work.
Stuart Davis 21.
Oil on canvas, 19 x 23 inches
provenance The artist; to His estate, until the present
exhibited Grace Borgenicht Gallery, New York, 1986, Stuart Davis: Provincetown and Gloucester: Paintings and Drawings, no. 40 // Salander-O’Reilly Galleries, New York, 1990, Stuart Davis, Scapes: An Exhibition of Landscapes, Cityscapes, and Seascapes Made between 1910 and 1923, no. 45 // Koriyama City Museum of Art, Japan; Museum of Modern Art, Shiga, Japan; and Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum, 1995, Stuart Davis: Retrospective, no. 29 // Salander-O’Reilly Galleries, New York,1998, Stuart Davis (1892– 1964), no. 18, as “East Gloucester-Harbor” // Gerald Peters Gallery, Santa Fe, 1998, Visions of Landscape: Stuart Davis’ Early Years (1910–1923), no. 17, as “East Gloucester-Harbor” // Cape Ann Historical Museum, Gloucester, Massachusetts, and the National Academy of Design, New York, 1999–2000, Stuart Davis in Gloucester
literature Karen Wilkin, Stuart Davis in Gloucester (1999), illus., p. 49, pl. 21 // Grace Glueck, “To a Quaint Fishing Port Came a Jazzy City Boy, Lured by the Light,” The New York Times, June 16, 2000, E 32, illus., as “East Gloucester-Harbor” // Ani Boyajian and Mark Rutkoski, eds., Stuart Davis: A Catalogue Raisonné (2007), Vol. III, p. 94, no. 1446, illus.
Stuart Davis would come to be known for his cubist-derived proto-pop abstractions of the thirties, forties, and fifties, but in 1917, his conversion to an iconographic idiom was still under development. Davis had studied under Robert Henri from 1909 to 1912, establishing himself as an Ashcan artist in both his paintings and illustrations. In 1913, the famed Armory Show exploded the Ashcan movement, sweeping it away in a tide of modernism. In 1915, he received a fortuitous invitation to summer in Gloucester, Massachusetts, and continued to visit until 1934. He later summed up the experience: I went to Gloucester, Mass., on the enthusiastic recommendation of John Sloan. That was the place I had been looking for. It had the brilliant light of Provincetown, but with the important additions of topographical severity and the architectural beauties of the Gloucester schooner. . . . I wandered over the rocks, moors, and docks, with a sketching easel, large canvases, and a pack on my back, looking for things to paint . . . [quoted in Stuart Davis: Provincetown and Gloucester Paintings and Drawings, Grace Borgenicht Gallery]. The present work was executed in Gloucester’s harbor toward the end of this formative decade. Davis’s use of the wet-into-wet painting technique reflects the lingering Ashcan influences. The use of a Henri-derived color system gives the work a jeweled quality which, along with its maritime subject, contributes to an atmosphere shared by some of the works of George Bellows of the same time period. The work is undated, but scholarship has located the work likely as having been completed in the months after Davis’s hot streak in Tioga, Pennsylvania, when he returned to Gloucester to paint in the fall. The cool of autumn or early winter manifests in the greying clouds, as does the lingering inspiration of that year’s investigation of van Gogh.
Stuart Davis 22.
Oil on canvas, 30 x 24 inches Signed at lower left: Stuart Davis
provenance The artist; to [Metropolitan Storage Co. auction, New York, c. 1935]; to Dr. Harry A. Levine, New York, by 1940; to [Plaza Art Galleries, Inc., New York, 1972]; [Robert Schoelkopf Gallery, New York, by 1978]; Private collection, San Francisco, in 1989, until the present
exhibited Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 1979, William Carlos Williams and the American Scene, 1920–1940 // Rahr-West Museum, Manitowoc, Wisconsin; Terra Museum of American Art, Evanston, Illinois; and Minnesota Museum of Art, St. Paul, 1983, Stuart Davis: The Formative Years, 1910–1930, no. 14 // Washburn Gallery, New York, 1983, Stuart Davis: Works from 1913–1919
literature Dickran Tashjian, William Carlos Williams and the American Scene, 1920–1940 (1978), p. 62, illus. // Ani Boyajian and Mark Rutkoski, eds., Stuart Davis: A Catalogue Raisonné (2007), Vol. III, p. 39, no. 1380, illus.
Gloucester was a powerful incubator for Davis’s aesthetic development. Over his time there, he would streamline his painting process, flatten the depth of his images, and reduce the elements of his pictures to iconographic glyphs. His first few summers there, however, were spent painting en plein air, working directly from life. Some of his work retained the flavor of fellow Ashcan artist George Bellows as he dragged his easel around the coast, but as early as 1916 he was rendering explicit interpretations of Matisse (compare, for instance, 1917’s Studio Interior to Matisse’s Red Studio). The selfportraits he executed during this time are heavily inspired by van Gogh. The present work is situated right at the crossroads of his Ashcan years and the beginning of his post-impressionist era. The sunflowers in the foreground are treated with the impasto of van Gogh. The rolling back hills of the town contributed to a an elevated horizon line, and Davis considered the present view in several different works. A related drawing from the same year shows the same greyhound bounding down the terrace. The building at the very upper edge of the picture is 6 Marchant Street, a towering Victorian to which the artist referred in correspondence as “The Ghost House.” The building figures more prominently in the related drawing, and is also present in a number of other works from Gloucester, including an illustration on the back cover of 1915’s New Year’s Eve issue of The Masses. The woman hanging the wash in the midfield appears also in the 1916 drawing Atlantic City Night. It is clear from Davis’s extensive sketching record that this sort of reworking of themes and motifs was part of his regular practice. Gloucester Backyard, seemingly a simple composition, teems with reworked elements from a variety of different pictures into a more satisfying composition of carefully measured colors.
23. Landscape, Tioga, PA, 1919 Oil on canvas, 24 x 30 inches Signed, dated, and inscribed on verso at upper right: Stuart Davis / Tioga PA. 1919 Signed with estate stamp on verso at lower left: Stuart Davis
provenance The artist; to His estate, until the present
exhibited Salander-O’Reilly Galleries, New York, 1990, Stuart Davis, Scapes: An Exhibition of Landscapes, Cityscapes, and Seascapes Made between 1910 and 1923, no. 38 // Koriyama City Museum of Art, Japan; Museum of Modern Art, Shiga, Japan; and Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum, 1995, Stuart Davis: Retrospective, 1995, no. 22 // Salander-O’Reilly Galleries, New York,1998, Stuart Davis (1892–1964), no. 19 // Gerald Peters Gallery, Santa Fe, 1998, Visions of Landscape: Stuart Davis’ Early Years (1910– 1923), no. 21 // Salander-O’Reilly Galleries, New York, 2001, Twentieth Century Selections
literature Ani Boyajian and Mark Rutkoski, eds., Stuart Davis: A Catalogue Raisonné (2007), Vol. III, p. 76, no. 1423, illus. in color
Stuart Davis spent his most productive portion of 1919 in Tioga, in north-central Pennsylvania, instead of his usual summering spot in Gloucester. His mother had rented a house in the rural locale, and he and his brother Wyatt joined her for the summer. In the years immediately preceding, the painter had been experimenting with expressionism and post impressionism, using a sometimes acidic palette and broad, bounded shapes. The summer of 1919 marked a departure, and a clarification: the heavy impasto and modulating brushstrokes found a home in carefully harmonized colors. The works from Tioga owe a certain debt to van Gogh, but the struggle through which the young painter passed on his way there testifies that he had made these tools his own. Davis wrote: I painted outdoors with Van Gogh as a model as to what I wanted the thing to look like. It wasn’t that I tried to imitate his brush strokes, or copied the colors, or anything, but it was the kind of spirit of clarity that was in his paintings. . . . There’s no expressionism in this [quoted in Stuart Davis: A Catalogue Raisonné, Vol. I, p. 130]. The same year, he produced his two most famous self-portraits, deep in this mode. The summer’s output was a singular achievement, but the painter never returned to Tioga. By autumn of that year, he was back in Gloucester, and in two short years he stepped away from this mode of realism entirely, beginning an investigation of collage/cubism [Lucky Strike, 1921, Museum of Modern Art, New York] that would culminate in his mature style of the thirties, forties and fifties.
24. Bora Bora II, 1975 Oil on canvas, 30 x 40 inches Signed lower left: RC
provenance The artist; to His estate; to The present owner, by descent
exhibited University of Wyoming Art Museum, 2014, Ralston Crawford: The Artistâ€™s Eye
Ralston Crawford is perhaps best known for his depictions of rural and maritime industry in the 1930s and 40s, but the painter developed his precisionist approach into a proto-Pop style in the postwar years. He worked steadily throughout his career in a variety of media, including photography and lithography, using these practices both as finished artworks and as studies for his painting. This recycling of imagery and media produced a rich body of work that approaches abstraction and anticipates Pop and Minimalism. In 1974, Ralston Crawford traveled around the world, with stops in London, Paris, Bangkok, Bali, Afghanistan, Tahiti, and the location of this painting: Bora Bora. On the deck of the boat on which he traveled, he took several photographs, printing four or more different negatives when he got back to his studio in New York. At his easel, he returned to the photographs and produced three canvases: Bora Bora, Bora Bora II, and Masts and Rigging. The present work, one of the series, carefully knocks out indicators of depth and form. The artist meticulously chose which planes to silence and which to reveal, drawing on the precisionist tradition to animate flattened planes of color. The subject matter is retrievable, but the composition gently resists identification.
25. Signs, 1973–76 Oil on canvas, 30 x 40 inches Signed with initials at lower left: RC Inscribed on stretcher bar: Started 3 19 73 // FIN // COMPL. SIGNS 1976
provenance The artist; to His estate; to The present owner, by descent
This work was developed from photographs (below) and drawings that the artist produced in New York City in the late sixties and early seventies. The ambiguous spatiality of its composition is a prime example of the artist’s project in this period. Taking as his starting point the interrupted two-dimensional forms of dog-eared billboard, he eliminates spatial signifiers and carefully adjusts color until the remaining forms on the canvas appear as objects moving through an abstract space. His activated brushstroke, churning in fields of single colors, as well as the carefully scalloped edges of some of the smaller forms, leave an ambiguous trail back to the flat source material.
Torn Signs, Compo 32 New York, 1969, gelatin silver print, 13½ x 13½ inches
Torn Signs (“Our Studio Homes”), 1964, gelatin silver print, 13½ x 13½ inches
26. Untitled, Paris, April 10, 1937, 1937 Oil on canvas, 38 x 51¼ inches Signed, dated, and inscribed at lower left: Ch. Biederman / Paris 4/15/37
provenance The artist; to His estate
exhibited Arts Council of Great Britain, London, 1969, Charles Biederman // The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 1976, Charles Biederman: A Retrospective
The Cleveland-born Biederman had a long and brilliant career, blazing new trails into the still-largely uncharted territory of abstraction. His meteoric output of fullyabstract canvases in the 1930s put him in the rare company of a still-rising Alexander Calder and the Park Avenue Cubists (George L. K. Morris, Albert E. Gallatin), his work brought to the attention of the dealer Pierre Matisse, with whom he showed in the middle of the decade. Biederman was also one of five “American Concretionists” to be shown at the Paul Reinhardt Gallery in New York and subsequently traveling abroad to London and Paris. A trip to Europe in 1936 put the painter in touch with Léger and Picasso and fanned the flames of his creative furnaces. His canvases in Paris and immediately upon his return to New York were to be his last; the following year, he put down the brush in favor of a life-long investigation of sculpture and relief. His long career continued this prodigious output, but the two-dimensional work to which he never returned remain among his most sought-after. Modeling threedimensional forms in almost architectural precision, the paintings of the thirties stand as premonitions as well as blueprints for the work of his remaining six decades. Biederman is certainly one of the under-appreciated gems of modern art whose work is only beginning to be understood.
Mark di Suvero
27. Towanda, 1991 Steel and stainless steel, 41¼ x 50¼ x 36¾ inches (variable)
provenance The artist; to The artist’s brother; to [Richard Bellamy/Oil & Steel Gallery, Long Island City, New York]; to Private collection, Long Island, New York, in 1995; By descent in the family until the present
literature Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain, Nice, France, Mark di Suvero: Retrospective 1959–1991 (1991), no. 89, illus. // Mark di Suvero, Open Secret: Sculpture 1990–1992 (1993) // Gilbert Perlein, Mark di Suvero Retrospective: 1959–1991 (1991), pp. 124 illus., 142
One of the greatest living sculptors, Mark di Suvero is celebrated for his large-scale public works as well as his intimately-scaled ones. When he first set out for New York in 1957, he intended to return to sculpture the heroic quality that painting of the era had attained. By middle of the next decade, he had largely achieved this goal, updating the grace and whimsy of Alexander Calder with some of the formal elements also explored by David Smith. The piece is named for a small town through which the artist passed on a cross-country trip.
Index of Artists by catalogue numbers Milton Avery, 18 George Wesley Bellows, 13 Frank W. Benson, 8 Charles Biederman, 26 Dennis Miller Bunker, 6 Arthur B. Carles, 15, 16 Mary Cassatt, 5 Konrad Cramer, 19, 20 Ralston Crawford, 24, 25 Stuart Davis, 21, 22, 23 Marsden Hartley, 12 Fitz Henry Lane, 2 John Marin, 14 Mary Blood Mellen, 3 Elie Nadelman, 17 William Paxton, 9 Theodore Robinson, 7 Robert Salmon, 1 Everett Shinn, 10, 11 Mark di Suvero, 27 Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait, 4 Photography: Joshua Nefsky Design: Russell Hassell Printing: Puritan Capital All rights reserved. Reproduction of contents prohibited Publication copyright © 2015 Menconi + Schoelkopf Reproduction credits and copyrights: (cat. no. 14) © 2015 Estate of John Marin / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; (cat. no. 18) © 2015 The Milton Avery Trust / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; (cat. nos. 24, 25) Copyright © Ralston Crawford Estate 2015 Front cover: Konrad Cramer, Improvisation detail, c. 1911–13, see cat. no. 19
Menconi + Schoelkopf 13 e 69 street, suite 2f
ny, ny 10021
t 212 879 8815
f 212 879 8780
info @ msfineart.com
Menconi + Schoelkopf 13 e 69 st,