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American Paintings


10 A. M., December 3, 2008

Sale 8495

"Sunrise at Tappan Zee" by Silva

Lot 9, "Sunrise at Tappan Zee, by Francis A. Silva, oil on canvas, 20 by 36 inches, 1874

By Carter B. Horsley

This December 3, 2008 auction of American Paintings at Sotheby's is highlighted by a large selection of fine works from the collection of Jo Ann and Julian Ganz Jr.

Oneof the most striking and beautiful of the Ganz paintings is Lot 9, "Sunrise at Tappan Zee," an oil on canvas by Francis A. Silva (1835-1886). It measures 20 by 36 inches and was painted in 1874. It has an estimate of $1,500,000 to $2,000,000. It sold for $2,658,500 including the buyer's premium as do all results mentioned in this article.

Although the sale had quite a high percentage of buy-ins, many of the works that sold were auctioned at the high end of their pre-auction estimates. The auction's total was $25,509,375. Dara Mitchell, executive vice president and head of Sotheby's American Paintings department, said after the sale that less than 60 percent of the offered lots sold, adding that the sale demonstrated that "the market is in a process of price recalibration." "The sale certainly confirms that we need to be nimble in adapting to a continuing changing economic climate."

It was acquired by the Ganzs in 1975 from Hirschl & Adler Galleries in New York and it and many of the other Ganz works in this auction were included in a major traveling art exhibition in 1981 and 1982 that was shown at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. It was also illustrated in an article on Silva in Antiques magazine in 1980 by John I. H. Baur and was included in a major exhibition on Silva in 2002 at the Berry-Hill Galleries in New York.

The catalogue provides the following commentary about this lot:

"Before the onset of the Civil War, Francis Silva apprenticed under a local commercial painter in New York City, where he spent his days decorating signs, fire wagons and stage coaches. In 1861, Silva enlisted in a New York militia regiment, rising to the rank of Captain in the 1st New York Volunteer Infantry. Before the war's end in 1865 Silva's military service brought him to Lynn, a town on the northeastern coast of Massachusetts, where he served as steward of an Army hospital. In 1867, Silva returned to New York and opened his first studio, launching his professional painting career. Evidently inspired by his time in Massachusetts, Silva traveled along the New England and mid-Atlantic coastlines throughout the warm summer months executing sketches that he would later develop into finished works in his studio. Silva exhibited regularly at prestigious New York institutions including the National Academy of Design and the Brooklyn Academy of Art, garnering a reputation as one of the country's important luminist painters.

"The term 'luminism' was not contemporary to the movement itself; it was coined by historian John I. H. Baur in 1954 to describe the 'particularly American consciousness of light and atmosphere in mid-nineteenth century landscape painting' (John Wilmerding, American Light: The Luminist Movement, 1850-1875, 1989, p. 12). Among the movement's chief characteristics are an insistence on an expansive, horizontal composition, cool, gleaming light, and a smooth surface notable for its absence of brushstrokes, all of which culminate in a hyper-real image that is neither naturalistic nor impressionistic. The meticulous realism of luminist canvases creates a sense that time has stood still, bringing the viewer into what Barbara Novak describes as 'a wordless dialogue with nature' (Nature and Culture: American Landscape and Painting, 1825-1875, 1980, p. 29). Certain proto-luminist tendencies can be found as far back as the radiant landscapes of Washington Allston in the early nineteenth century, and ranging through some late works by the Hudson River School artist Thomas Cole, in which he focused on open compositions and the brilliant effects of light. The gleaming, utterly luminist landscapes of artists such as Sanford Robinson Gifford, Martin Johnson Heade, and Francis Silva would come to define what has been deemed 'the central movement in American art through the middle of the nineteenth century' Portfolio, vol. 1, no. 2, June-July 1979, p. 20).

"Between 1871 and 1876 Silva often painted the dramatic Hudson River vistas between Haverstraw and the Tappan Zee, with varying points of view and under a variety of light and weather conditions. Sunrise at Tappan Zee depicts the eponymous location where the river swells to its widest breadth, extending approximately three miles across and ten miles long, flanked by the steep bluffs of Palisades Ridge and the Hudson Valley. The area derives its name from the Tappan, a Native American tribe, and the Dutch word zee meaning a sea or wide expanse of water. Here, on calm days, the Hudson assumes a lake-like appearance that permits the rugged contours of the land to be seen from a softening distance.

"Silva favored the dramatic light that floods the river scene at early morning and sunset. The diffuse light in earlier works such as On the Hudson near Haverstraw (1872, Terra Museum of American Art) eventually gave way to a more crystalline, precise luminosity that can be seen in Sunrise at Tappan Zee. The low, rising sun highlights the white sails of several almost-becalmed vessels and tints the entire scene with a subtle range of pastel shades. With delicate tonal modulations of intense, yet cool hues of pink, yellow, and blue Silva creates a pervasive illumination that unifies the entire surface of the canvas.

"Sunrise at Tappan Zee also displays another key feature of luminism - the imperceptible brushstroke. The scene is so precisely rendered, particularly the minute ripples on the river's surface and the intricate rigging on the ships, that it is easy to overlook Silva's participation. As Barbara Novak has explained: 'The more that the artist's self, embedded in the 'signature' of the stroke, occupies our attention, the less we are dealing with the selfless image of luminism ...We can also say that stroke, carrying action, implies sound. A key correlative of luminism is silence ...luminist silence, in the repose of inaction, represents not a void but a palpable space, in which everything happens while nothing does' (American Light, p. 27-28)."

"October on the Hudson" by Silva

Lot 146, "October on the Hudson," by Francis A. Silva, oil on canvas, 20 by 36 inches, 1875

Another fine Silva painting, through one not quite so stunnning, is Lot 146, "October on the Hudson," an oil on canvas that measures 20 by 36 inches. It was painted in 1875. It has a modest estimate of $400,000 to $600,000. It failed to sell.

The catalogue entry for this lot provides the following commentary:

"In October on the Hudson Silva has captured a fleeting moment when the sun has just dipped below the western Catskills but still is reflected in the atmosphere. Sailboats glide across cool autumnal waters approaching the eastern shore. Mark D. Mitchell writes, 'By far the most famous of Silva's themes from this early period was not formal, but geographic: the Hudson River...his Hudson River scenes are his most charming and effective early works...The correspondence between the Hudson River and the quality of these paintings is virtually inexplicable, as they stand apart aesthetically from his other work of the early 1870's. Perhaps the phenomenon is best explained simply as a serendipitous consequence of time and geography of Silva's concurrent artistic maturation as awareness of his Hudson River School predecessors on their turf" (Francis A. Silva: In his Own Light, New York, 2002, pp.33-34). John I.H. Baur first coined the term 'Luminism' in 1954 to distinguish a group of Hudson River School artists, including Francis Silva, Martin Johnson Heade, Fitz Henry Lane, among others, for their particularly American consciousness of the effects of light and atmosphere. Barbara Novak, whose seminal publication American Painting of the 19th Century, broke ground in the discussion of luminism, stated that the movement fostered 'some of the nineteenth century's most profound thoughts on nature,' offering the spectator 'an irresistible invitation in terms of empathy' which 'brought the nineteenth century as close as it could come to silence and void.' She continued, 'Luminist light tends to be cool, not hot, hard not soft, palpable rather than fluid, planar rather than atmospherically diffuse. Luminist light radiates, gleams, and suffuses on a different frequency than atmospheric light...Air cannot circulate between the particles of matter that comprise luminist light" (Nature and Culture, London, 1980, pp. 18, 29)."

"Riva di Garda" by Gifford

Lot 13, "Riva - Lago di Garda," by Sanford Robinson Gifford, oil on canvas, 10 3/4 by 17 inches, 1863

Another major work from the Ganz collection is Lot 13, "Riva - Lago di Garda," by Sanford Robinson Gifford (1823-1880). An oil on canvas, it measures 10 3/4 by 17 inches and is dated 1863. The Ganzs acquired it in 1976 from the Vose Galleries of Boston. It has a modest estimate of $200,000 to $300,000. It sold for $242,500. It has been widely exhibited including the 2003-4 traveling exhibition on Gifford that was shown at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Amon Carter Museum and that National Gallery of Art.

In "Hudson River School Visions" (2004), the catalogue notes that Franklin Kelly wrote that "Gifford's meticulous recording of the buildings makes a number of them easily identifiable, including the tall structure at the left, Torre di Apponale, which was built in 1220 for defense of the town and later raised in height and extensively modified [into a clocktower]. At the far right is the multi-towered castle known as the Rocca, first constructed in the twelfth century and renovated and enlarged several times since. Seen between these two, but slightly further inland, is the south flank of the church of Santa Maria Assunta, begun in the early twelfth century but completely redecorated in 1728."

"Long Branch Beach" by Gifford

Lot 5, "Long Branch Beach," by Sanford Robinson Gifford, oil on canvas, 9 by 19 1/2 inches, 1867

Another Ganz Gifford is Lot 5, "Long Branch Beach," an oil on canvas that measures 9 by 19 1/2 inches. It is dated 1867 and has an estimate of $750,000 to $1,000,000. It sold for $602,500. It was acquired from Hirschl & Adler Galleries in 1998.

The catalogue entry for this lot provides the following commentary:

"Of all the Hudson River School artists, Sanford Gifford was one of the few who was actually native to the Hudson River Valley. Born in Greenfield, Saratoga County, New York, Gifford's family was fairly well off, unlike most of his peers; his father was a joint owner of a highly successful iron foundry. Gifford attended Brown University for two years before deciding to become an artist. Unlike Church, Gifford never studied with Thomas Cole, and unlike Albert Bierstadt, he never attended one of the great art academies of Europe. Rather, he studied in New York with drawing master John Rubens Smith, and attended drawing classes at the National Academy of Design, where he worked from plaster casts.

"Gifford's earliest efforts focused on portraiture, but by the mid 1840s, his attention turned to landscapes. Reflecting on this time he wrote in a letter to O.B. Frothingham on November 6, 1874: 'During the summer of 1846 I made several pedestrian tours in the Catskill Mts., and the Berkshire Hills, and made a good many sketches from nature. These studies, together with the great admiration I felt for the works of Cole, developed a strong interest in landscape art, and opened my eyes to a keener perception and more intelligent enjoyment of nature. Having once enjoyed the absolute freedom of the landscape artist's life, I was unable to return to portrait painting. From this time my direction in art was determined.'

"Cole's death in 1848 was followed by a large retrospective exhibition of his work at the American Art-Union. Though it is not known if Gifford attended the exhibition, it is likely that he did; indeed many of his early paintings recall Cole's work, particularly his choice of the Catskill Mountains as a subject. Gifford's work, however, was more fundamentally rooted in and inspired by his direct observations from nature than Cole's often literary or historical scenes. Gifford generally made small, quick pencil sketches to record his immediate impressions and these, along with his small oil studies, served as a point of departure for his larger studio compositions.

"Long Branch Beach combines the fresh eloquence of a sketch from nature with the evocative subtlety and technical assurance of the finest studio painting. Executed in 1867, when he spent the summer on the New Jersey coast, Gifford completed the work during a period in which he had begun to move away from the prototypical landscapes of the Hudson River School, and focus his efforts on the tranquil and luminous views of river and coastal scenery.

"In the exhibition catalogue, Hudson River School Visions: The Landscapes of Sanford R. Gifford, Franklin Kelly writes: 'It is not known why Gifford chose to visit Long Branch and to depict it in several works. The younger Winslow Homer went there two years later, perhaps on the suggestion of his employer, Harper's Weekly, which published two wood engravings by him of Long Branch subjects. In Homer's prints, as in the one oil known to have resulted from the experience (Long Branch, New Jersey, 1869, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston), figures are featured prominently. Homer seems to have been emphasizing one of the most remarked-upon aspects of Long Branch's social makeup - namely its democratic character...If Gifford was similarly interested in the details of American modern life, his painting hardly suggests it. Instead of the elegantly dressed men and women who promenade so prominently in Homer's images, the figures in Gifford's painting are far off in the middle distance, making it difficult to distinguish them as anything more than individuals, let alone to determine their social class.'

"Unlike Homer's figures, Gifford's appear to be fishermen working on their nets, the angular huts which recall Homer's bathhouses may be icehouses - places for the fishermen to temporarily store their catch. Gifford's extremely technical composition makes it clear, however, that the men and their occupation are secondary to his interest in the shoreline. He creates a deep sense of receding space under a vast expanse of sky, using every detail and component of the scene to create perfect linear perspective and recession toward a single vanishing point.

"Gifford painted several views of the New Jersey coast that summer, including two similar canvasses, a larger version of this work (Long Branch Beach, Palmer Museum of Art, Pennsylvania State University), and Sunrise on the Sea-Shore (unlocated), which is listed as one of Gifford's 'chief pictures.' The latter is described in Henry Tuckerman's 1867 Book of the Artists as 'masterly, depicting only sea and sky as they appear at sunrise from the low shores of New Jersey at Long Branch, with no accessories - bare, solitary, base, elemental nature – with such truth in wave and air, in strand and horizon, in light and perspective as to captivate the eye, as the long sea-shore itself does in its sublime reality.'"

"On the Meadows of Old Newburyport" by Bricher

Lot 6, "On the Meadows of Old Newburyport," by Alfred Thompson Bricher, watercolor and goache on paper, 13 by 26 inches, 1873

Another landscape from the Ganz collection is Lot 6, "On the Meadows of Old Newburyport," a watercolor and gouache on paper that measures 13 by 36 inches and was painted in 1873. It has an estimate of $80,000 to $120,000. It failed to sell. It was acquired from Hirschl & Adler Galleries in 1969. The catalogue notes that A similar version of this work in oil entitled Hunter in the Meadows of Old Newburyport, Massachusetts is in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, Spain.

"Still Life: Yellow Applesand Chestnuts Spilling from a Basket," by Francis

Lot 11, "Still Life: Yellow Apples and Chestnuts Spilling From a Basket," by John F. Francis, oil on canvas, 25 by 30 inches, 1856

The Ganz selection also includes some still life and genre paintings. Lot 11, for example, is a superb still life by John F. Francis (1808-1886) that is entitled "StillLife: Yellow Apples and Chestnuts Spilling From a Basket." An oil on canvas, it measures 25 by 30 inches and is dated 1856. It has an estimate of $150,000 to $250,000. It sold for $374,500.

"Butterfly" by Bierstadt

Lot 1, "Butterfly," by Albert Bierstadt, oil and pencil on paper, 6 by 8 inches, 1890

Lot 1 is one of Albert Bierstadt's small butterfly paintings. also from the Ganz collection. An oil and pencil on paper, it measures 6 by 8 inches and is dated 1890. It has an estimate of $30,000 to $50,000. It sold for $50,000.

In his 1974 book, "Albert Bierstadt: Painter of the Ameican West," Gordon Hendricks provided the following commentary about Bierstadt's butterflies:

"Bierstadt's guests were often favored with delightful souvenirs from his hand. In Nassau these were little seashells with a few strokes of paint inside; in New York they were the famous 'Bierstadt butterflies.' His technique in charming the ladies with little Bierstadts of their own was described in 1892 by the lady reporter who had been titillated by the artist's New York 'afternoon':

'We women were so glad we were women that afternoon, for Mr. Bierstadt presented each lady with a souvenir. This is how he made them. We all clustered about the table and he took out a palette, a knife and some large slips of cartridge paper. Two or three daubs of pigment on the paper, a quick fold, and holding it still folded against a pane of glass, he made two or three strokes of that wizard-like palette knife on the outside, and hey, presto! a wonderful Brazilian butterfly or moth, even the veining on the wings complete! A pencil touch added the antennae, that artist's autograph was added to the corner, and now we each of us own a painting by Bierstadt'"

"Girl with a Lute" by Vedder
Lot 24, "Girl with a Lute," by Elihu Vedder, oil on paper, 16 by 9 1/4 inches, 1866

One of the better genre paintings in the Ganz group is Lot 24, "Girl with a Lute," by Elihu Vedder, (1836-1923). An oil on paper, it measures 16 by 9 1/4 inches and is dated 1866. It has an estimate of $40,000 to $60,000. It sold for $31,250. It was acquired from Berry-Hill Galleries in 1974 and previously had been in the collections of Mr. and Mrs. Jacob M. Kaplan of New York and Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence A. Fleischman of Detroit.

"Resting in the Woods" by Brown

Lot 4, "Resting in the Woods (Girl Under A Tree)," by John George Brown, oil on canvas, 18 by 12 1/4 inches, 1866

Lot 4, another Ganz property, is a wistful girl resting by a tree by John George Brown (1831-1913), an oil on canvas that measures 18 by 12 1/4 inches. Painted in 1866, it has an estimate of $100,00 to $150,000. It sold for $266,500. It was once in the colllection of Lee B. Anderson of New York.

"Making Believe" by Guy

Lot 14, "Making Believe," by Seymour Joseph Guy, oil on canvas, 15 by 12 inches, 1870

Another fine Ganz genre picture is Lot 14, "Making Believe," by Seymour Joseph Guy (1824-1910). An oil on canvas, it measures 15 by 12 inches and is dated 1870. This work is a later version of the artist's Making a Train (1867, Philadelphia Museum of Art) and probably includes the same model, the artist's daughter Anna, who would have been twelve at the time Guy finished this painting. It sold for $92,500.

The auction includes many fine works not from the Ganz collection.

"The Ice Blockade on the Labrador Coast" by Bradford

Lot 142, "The Ice Blockade on the Labrador Coast," by William Bradford, oil on canvas, 18 by 30 inches

Lot 142 is a fine and typical painting of the Labrador coast by William Bradford (1823-1892). An oil on canvas that measures 18 by 30 inches, the catalogue states that it is possibly dated 1871. It has an estimate of $125,000 to $175,000. It failed to sell.

The catalogue entry provides the following commentary by Richard Kugler and Frederick P. Walkey from a 1969 catalogue:

"As an artist, the most striking aspect of Bradford's career lies in his long pursuit of the peculiar qualities that light and color assume in the atmosphere of the high northern latitudes. In this vast frozen world, with its spectacular sunsets, its play of light on pack ice and berg, its bleak colors, Bradford found substance for the paintings that gained him fame in his own lifetime. Not by accident, his single-minded quest 'to study Nature under the terrible aspects of the frigid zone' matched a 'polar passion' that had seized the imagination of the Anglo-American world in the decade of the 1850s. Out of this Victorian fascination with a succession of expeditions - some in search of the lost fleet of Sir John Franklin, others seeking passage through an open polar sea - Bradford emerges as the Arctic's most creative and enduring chronicler"

"An Autumn Lake Scene" by McEntee
Lot 26, "Autumn Lake Scene," by Jervis McEntee, oil on canvas, 12 by 24 inches, 1864

Lot 25 is a very fine autumn lake scene by Jervis McEntee (1828-1891). An oil on canvas, it measures 12 by 24 inches and was executed in 1864. It has a modest estimate of $25,000 to $25,000. It sold for $83,500.

Lot 28, "The Battery and Harbor, New York," by Thomas Birch, oil on canvas, 28 3/4 by 40 3/4 inches, 1811

Lot 28 is a 1811 oil on canvas by Thomas Birch (1779-1851) of "The Battery and Harbor, New York." It measures 28 3/4 by 40 3/4 inches and is property from the Glen S. Foster Trust. It has an estimate of $400,000 to $600,000. It sold for $482,500. It was once in the collection of The Alexander Gallery in New York.

The catalogue entry for this lot provides the following commentary:

"Thomas Birch, one of the early republic's leading artists, began his career as a portraitist, producing both full-size paintings and miniatures, but by 1806 had shifted his focus to maritime subjects. By the end of the eighteenth century, seascapes had become increasingly popular with citizens of a young country whose lifeblood was maritime commerce. Birch specialized in both marine portraiture and topographic scenes of the bustling commercial cities along the mid-Atlantic coast, particularly New York and his hometown Philadelphia....Birch's canvas is a brilliant depiction of Battery Park (also known as Battery Walk), named for the gun batteries that had once been located there. The park had been developed in 1805 as 'a crescent shaped piece of ground of about ten acres' that offered New Yorkers a place to stroll along the busy waterfront. Birch's scene includes portents that the city was bracing itself for the looming war with Great Britain. In addition to a naval officer, Birch also depicts Castle Williams, one of four forts completed in 1811 to protect New York's harbor against a naval attack. Castle Williams, dubbed by locals as the 'Cheese Box' because of its circular shape, was located just off the Battery on Governor's Island, and was a state-of-the-art structure. Its red sandstone walls were forty feet high and eight feet thick; three tiers of guns were positioned to fire on enemy ships. In preparation for war, New Yorkers tore down the three-railed wooden fence near the small beach at the water's edge and replaced it with a stone posted iron railing along with substantial earthworks. The presence of the wooden fence in Birch's scene helps to date the scene, as it was replaced sometime after October of 1811."

"When We Were Boys Together" by Wood
Lot 29, "When We Were Boys Together," by Thomas Waterman Wood, oil on canvas, 28 by 22 inches, 1881

Lot 29 is a charming and very fine genre painting by Thomas Waterman Wood (1823-1913) that is entitled "When We Were Boys Together." An oil on canvas, it measures 28 by 22 inches and is dated 1881. It was formerly in the collection of the Union League of Philadelphia and the Berry Hill Galleries of New York. It has an estimate of $125,000 to $175,000. It sold for $122,500.

"Railroad Tracks" by Bluemner

Lot 55, "Railroad Tracks (Cityscape with Sun)," by Oscar Bluemner, watercolor and gouache on paper, 4 3/4 by 6 1/4 inches, 1927

One of the most beautiful works in the auction is a small watercolor and gouache on paper by Oscar Bluemner (1867-1938) entitled "Railroad Tracks (Cityscape with Sun)." It measures 4 3/4 by 6 1/4 inches and was painted in 1927. It has a modest estimate of $30,000 to $50,000. It failed to sell.

"Sailboats" by Homer

Lot 137, "Sailboats," by Winslow Homer, gouache and pencil on paper, 8 1/4 by 13 1/2 inches, circa 1880

Lot 137 is a very lovely gouache and pencil on paper of sailboats executed circa 1880 by Winslow Homer (1836-1910). It measures 8 1/4 by 13 1/2 inches. It has a modest estimate of $80,000 to $120,000. It sold for $242,500. It is property of St. John's College in Annapolis.

"Winding Line" by Homer

Lot 140, "Winding Line," by Winslow Homer, oil on canvas, 15 3/4 by 22 3/4 inches, 1874

Another Homer is Lot 140, "Winding Line," an oil on canvas that measures 15 3/4 by 22 3/4 inches. It is dated 1874 and has an ambitious estimate of $2,000,000 to $3,000,000. It is property of the Plainfield (N.J.) Public Library. It failed to sell.

The catalogue entry includes the following commentary:

"When Homer made his first trip to Prout's Neck, Maine to visit his newlywed younger brother Arthur Benson Homer in 1875, he continued with boys and boats as subject matter, but shifted to a more mature model. Although Winding Line is dated 1874, Abigail Gerdts notes it was more likely painted during the 1875 visit to Maine. His model, a young man, wears an oilskin hat, fishing waders and boots, and appears to be the same figure in other 1875 works such as A Fish Story (Private collection), Sunset (National Gallery of Art), and Looking Out (Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon Collection). Most convincing is a description of the paintings in Homer's studio – the result of his 1875 summer's work – reported in the Appletons' Journal of November 6, 1875: 'A visit to Mr. Winslow Homer's studio a few days ago showed us about twenty important studies as the result of his summer vacation. Of these, eight are large paintings in oils.... Looking over the pictures, the visitor finds that Mr. Homer has made great use of some half-dozen models which he has arranged and grouped in a variety of ways .... Another subject is the very picturesque figure of a young fisher-boy, who left his nets for a good 'consideration,' to devote his time to the business of posing for Mr. Homer. In one of the pictures, in which this boy appears, he is sitting upon the edge of a broad, round-keeled boat that has been drawn upon a pebbly beach, beyond which the blue seawater is dancing in a small cove. In another sketch, taken just after sunset, this fisherboy again appears in his boat, which has floated up one of the little channels so characteristic of salt marshes in the neighborhood of the sea.'"

"The Chrysanthemum Show" by Graves

Lot 160, "The Chrysanthemum Show," by Abbott Fuller Graves, oil on canvas, 38 by 65 1/2 inches, circa 1886

One of the auction's most spectacular works is Lot 160, "The Chrysanthemum Show," by Abbott Fuller Graves (1859-1936). An oil on canvas, it measures 38 by 65 1/2 inches and was painted in 1886. It has a very modest estimate of $100,000 to $150,000. It sold for $134,500. This painting is simultaneously very grand and very intimate and is it also very nicely painted. It has been widely published.

The catalogue provides this interesting history to the work:

"Because it successfully integrated aspects of both genre and still life, The Chrysanthemum Show was an innovative image for its time. The painting depicts the annual exhibition of chrysanthemums that was held in November 1886 in Boston's Horticutural Hall, which was then located on Tremont Street. In January of 1887 Graves brought the painting to the Boston Art Club for the organization's thirty-fifth annual exhibition. During a preview of the show, Graves realized that his work had been "skied" or placed in the inconsequential area at the top of the wall. Furious, Graves procured a ladder and removed his painting, leaving the empty frame hanging on the wall. He resigned from the club before being expelled for violating the rules about the removal of artwork. Afterward, Graves exhibited his painting at the Cowles Art School where he taught classes. Due to the controversy, the empty frame was one of the most popular attractions at the Boston Art Club's exhibition. The painting itself drew considerable interest and widespread critical praise."

"Portrait of a Woman" by Dewing
Lot 162, "Portrait of a Woman," by Thomas Wilmer Dewing," pastel on paper, 14 1/2 by 11 inches

Lot 162 is a very fine pastel on paper portrait of a woman by Thomas Wilmer Dewing (1851-1938). It measures 14 1/2 by 11 inches. Itisproperty from the collection of Karin Dewing Papp. It has an estimate of $90,000 to $120,000. It failed to sell.

"Sunset, Boston" by Prendergast

Lot 163, "Sunset, Boston," by Maurice B. Prendergast, pastel on paper, 20 by 11 inches, circa 1895-6

Lot 163 is a sensational and very unusual pastel on paper by Maurice B. Prendergast (1858-1924) who is best known for his very colorful watercolors and somewhat darker oil paintings. Entitled "Sunset, Boston," it measures 20 by 11 inches and was executed circa 1895-6. It rivals the finest work of Gustav Klimt in its dazzling and very bright and very rich palette. It has a modest estimate of $400,000 to $600,000. It failed to sell.

The catalogue provides the following commentary:

"Maurice Prendergast completed Sunset, Boston shortly after the artist returned from a four year sojourn in Paris, where he had gone in 1891 to acquire his first formal training in art. His experience there transformed him from a gifted amateur into a polished professional who had absorbed multiple influences, especially the bright hues and quick brushwork of the Impressionists. Upon his return, Prendergast painted views that featured the city at play, and he was one of the first artists to portray contemporary Bostonians taking advantage of the city's new parks and pleasure grounds. One popular destination was the new Marine Park located at the far eastern edge of South Boston. On Sunday's in particular, the park, which featured a grand serpentine pier that extended out into the bay, attracted thousands of Bostonians who sought the fresh air, sunshine, and the opportunity to stroll in public dressed in their finest attire. In the mid-1890s Prendergast painted a series of works featuring the pier and the waterside promenade in Marine Park....In Sunset, Boston the late afternoon sun has begun to dip below Boston's city skyline, which is silhouetted in a deep blue shade. The setting sun, depicted as an orange disk, is reflected on the surface of the bay. Prendergast incorporates the same reflected sun motif in several of his related works such as the watercolor South Boston Pier, Sunset (ca. 1895-1897, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston). The day's crowds have dissipated, and aside from a lingering couple in the background, Prendergast features an elegantly dressed, woman. Prendergast often depicted well-dressed women in his depictions of urban leisure and he had an acute sense of observation with regard to fashion and comportment. In Sunset, Boston Prendergast details the hourglass shape of the woman's corseted physique, her high neckline, and the demure gesture of her right hand in which she gathers up her long skirt to keep it from touching the ground."

This ain't just any old lady. This is overpowering, glorious, intoxicated amour.

"Summer on the Guidecca" by Sargent

Lot 36, "Summer on the Guidecca," by John Singer Sargent, watercolor on paper, 13 3/4 by 19 1/4 inches

Lot 36 is a good watercolor on paper by John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) entitled "Summer on the Guidecca." It is one of the artist's better Venetian schenes. It measures 13 3/4 by 19 1/4 inches. It has an estimate of $1,500,000 to $2,500,000. It failed to sell.

The catalogue provides the following commentary:

"Sargent's earliest Venetian work is devoid of the archetypal scenes of gay crowds and bright, picturesque city vistas that many artists such as Maurice Brazil Prendergast chose. In contrast, Sargent's views of the city largely comprise genre scenes of modern life, populated by working class men and women walking along the narrow streets or laboring quietly inside poorly-lit interiors. As with his Venetian Bead Stringers (ca. 1880-1882, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York), which shows three women working in a dim palazzo, Sargent's images from this period are often rendered in a dark, tonalist palette. At a slightly later date, Sargent embraced aspects of Monet's Impressionist style, which in turn affected the character of his Venetian subjects. Sargent most often abandoned the moody darkness of his earlier Venetian genre scenes to create dazzling architectural views filled with water and light. Sargent's watercolors are frequently distinguished by cropped compositions, vivid hues, and confident, vigorous brushwork and are considered among his finest works. The juncture of the Giudecca and Grand Canals provides the setting for Summer on the Giudecca. The Dogana or Customs House, sits off in the distance to the left; its famous sculpture Fortuna presides atop a great golden sphere above the building. The Dogana is framed within the brisk, sweeping lines of color that form the web of masts and rigging of the ships moored in the Giudecca. The vibrant turquoise hull of the ship in the middle-ground and the edges of the gondola appear to mingle with the ripples in the water, blurring their boundaries while the tip of the boat's prow pierces the sun-washed buildings of the distant coastline. In the exaggerated foreground, a gondolier idles while he waits for the artist to finish his work. Though many artists painted from gondolas, Sargent was the only artist to do so consistently and to employ a low vantage point in the manner of a wide angle lens. As a consequence the viewer, like the artist, has the immediate experience, much as a tourist would, of floating along the Venetian canals. Sargent's distinctive artistic vision in Summer on the Giudecca has a rare literary counterpart in the writing of his friend and ardent supporter Henry James, who had his own enduring affair with Venice. In his book, Italian Hours, James describes the precise location depicted in Sargent's watercolor: "The whole thing composes as if composition were the chief end of human institutions. The charming architectural promontory of the Dogana stretches out the most graceful of arms, balancing in its hand the gilded globe on which revolves the delightful satirical figure of a little weathercock of a woman ... On the other side of the canal twinkles and glitters the long row of the happy palaces which are mainly expensive hotels ...They are almost as charming from other places as they are from their own balconies, and share fully in that universal privilege of Venetian objects which consists of being both the picture and the point of view" (1909, pp.46-47)."

"L'Etang" by Twachtman

Lot 87, "L'Etang," by John H. Twachtman,oil on canvas, 19 1/2 by 24 inches, circa 1884

Lot 87 is a fabulously abstract landscape by John H. Twachtman (1853-1902) entitled "L'Etang." An oil on canvas, it measures 19 1/2 by 24 inches and was executed circa 1994. It has a modest estimate of $70,000 to $90,000. It sold for $116,500.

"The Silence of High Noon" by Hartley

Lot 50, "The Silence of High Noon," by Marsden Hartley, oil on canvas, 30 1/4 by 30 1/2 inches, circa 1907-8

Lot 50 is a fine work by Marsden Hartley (1877-1943) that is entitled "The Silence of High Noon." An oil on canvas, it measures 30 1/4 by 30 1/2 inches and was executed circa 1907-8. It has an estimate of $1,500,000 to $2,500,000. It sold for $1,538,500.

Dr. Gail Levin, author of the forthcoming catalogue raisonné on Marsden Hartley, writes: "Marsden Hartley painted Silence of High Noon after he returned to his native Maine in mid-May 1908, and the catalogue includes her following commentary relating to this work"

"Born in 1877 in Lewiston, Hartley forged a deep affection for the state to which he continually returned after ventures away. On this occasion, he stayed in North Lovell in the Stoneham valley near Kezar Lake, an area that had attracted him since 1902, and where he remained through the winter painting mountain landscapes. In a letter to Shaemus O'Sheel, the Irish poet and a friend, Hartley referred to these canvases as 'Romances sans Paroles' and 'Autumn Impersonals.'

"Since the 1880s, the extraordinary beauty of Kezar Lake had appealed to those summering away from New York City. A number of these visitors were active in the New York Society for Ethical Culture, a nontheistic humanist movement that was founded by intellectuals in the late nineteenth century. The group's belief that God acts through human beings and that all their actions have moral dimensions may have attracted Hartley as much as the unique visual appeal of the area. Hartley worked during the summer and fall of 1907 at Green Acre, a utopian religious community in Eliot, Maine, where he joined Horace Traubel, his friend who had been Walt Whitman's confidant and champion. Also an admirer of Whitman, Hartley's interest in the spiritual remained strong.

"Ever since his days at the Cleveland School of Art (1898-99), Hartley had been an avid reader of Ralph Waldo Emerson's Essays; he went on to other literature in search of spiritual guidance....In Emerson's essay on 'The Over-Soul,' we find words that would have resonated with Hartley: 'Let man, then, learn the revelation of all nature and all thought to his heart; this, namely; that the Highest dwells with him; that the sources of nature are in his own mind, if the sentiment of duty is there.'

"During this time, when Hartley painted some of the greatest mountain compositions of his early career, he lived simply and willingly coped with the harsh elements of Maine; a small price, perhaps, to enjoy its magnificent scenery. Hartley stayed not on the picturesque lake front, but in an abandoned shack in a more desolate area of Stoneham Valley near North Lovell, where there had once been a mill that manufactured spools and long lumber.

"Lovell is in the southern part of Oxford County, north of Fryeburg, near the New Hampshire line. On the north-west and north-east it is bounded by Stoneham, east by Waterford, and south-east by Sweden. Looking west to New Hampshire and due north toward Speckled Mountain in Maine are some of the dramatic vistas that appealed to Hartley. To get to North Lovell, Hartley took the train from New York to Fryeburg, where he changed to the same crowded horse-drawn stagecoach that delivered the Lovell community's mail and provisions.

"For inspiration in how to paint landscape, Hartley in this formative period studied reproductions of paintings by the Italian pointillist, Giovanni Segantini (1858-1899), which he found in the German art nouveau magazine, Judgend. He dubbed Segantini 'the master of the mountain,' later writing: 'I personally am indebted to Segantini the impressionist, not Segantini the symbolist, for what I have learned in times past of the mountain and a given way to express it - just as it was [Albert Pinkham] Ryder who accentuated my already tormented imagination.' In this period, Hartley, like Segantini, utilized neo-impressionist stitch brushstokes applied with thick, textured paint. These broken, energetic dabs of color applied with exceptional ferocity animate the overall composition.

"Despite Hartley's glance at the work of his precursors, the signature style that he developed is very much his own. Although the palette of Silence of High Noon suggests that the season is pre-autumnal, the trees already have touches of what will become bright autumn colors. Thus the warmth of red tones enlivens this composition, dappling the trees and the fields beneath them. It is a beautiful day with blue sky against which large white puffy clouds float above the mountain. Color had been prominent in Hartley's thoughts for several months when he painted this canvas. In May 1908, Hartley wrote to Traubel that he was longing 'to go to California next fall perhaps for a year to paint in that vividly glowing country and to attune my senses to livelier color.'

"By July 1910, Hartley explained to his niece that he was working from his imagination, "using the mountains only as backgrounds for ideas....I do not allow myself to work from nature much but from my memory of it. This is difficult art-- almost anybody can paint from nature.' The work of the previous year had been closer to observation, but had long since evolved into Hartley's very personal interpretation of nature.

"Silence of High Noon is closely related in size, subject, style, and brushstroke to several other canvases Hartley painted at this time, especially Carnival of Autumn (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston), Cosmos (Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio), and The Summer Camp, Blue Mountain (The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Golden Gate Park). All of these major canvases were most likely painted during the summer and autumn of 1908 while Hartley was living in North Lovell.

"Hartley's first solo exhibition in New York opened in May 1909 at Alfred Stieglitz's Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession, popularly known as 291 from its address on Fifth Avenue, between 30th and 31st streets. This show, called Exhibition of Paintings in Oil by Mr. Marsden Hartley, of Maine contained thirty-three landscapes, most of which were painted in 1908, when Hartley finished Silence of High Noon. This canvas appears to have been included in this show as 'Silence of High Noon--Midsummer.' Cosmos and The Summer Camp were also in this show. Because nothing sold from this debut show, Hartley would exhibit these paintings again soon.

"In fact, Silence of High Noon was featured in Hartley's show from January-February 9, 1915 at the Daniel Gallery at 2 West 47th Street in New York City. This was one of seventeen works exhibited there in a show called Paintings by Marsden Hartley 'The Mountain Series,' all of which Hartley had produced in Maine on his multiple trips to his native state. In Silence of High Noon and in his series of closely related paintings, he rendered the clouds as the pleasing forms described by Emerson in an essay, Spiritual Laws, that Hartley frequently read: 'When the act of reflection takes place in the mind, when we look at ourselves in the light of thought, we discover that our life is embosomed in beauty. Behind us, as we go, all things assume pleasing forms, as clouds do far off. Not only things familiar and stale, but even the tragic and terrible, are comely, as they take their place in the pictures of memory.' "

"Still Life wth Map, New Mexico," by Davis

Lot 41, "Still Life with Map, New Mexico," by Stuart Davis, oil on canvas, 31 by 39 inches, 1923

Lot 41 is a nice abstraction by Stuart Davis (1892-1964) entitled "Still Life with Map, New Mexico." An oil on canvas, it measures 31 by 39 inches and was painted in 1923. It was formerly in the collections of Joseph Hirshhorn of New York, The Downtown Gallery in New York, and David and Peggy Rockefeller of New York. It has an estimate of $1,500,000 to $2,500,000. It sold for $1,538,500 to an American museum.

The catalogue provides the following commentary:

"Of the approximately fifteen canvases Davis completed in New Mexico, most were done in his Santa Fe basement studio at the Palace of the Governors and his initial efforts were heavily influenced by the Cubist works and theories he had studied in the 'teens. Davis had participated in the Armory Show of 1913, and while his artistic beginnings were rooted in the Ashcan style, he spent the remainder of the decade exploring the daring modern styles of Post-Impressionism and Fauvism, before eventually settling on Synthetic Cubism. By 1920 he started to write his own artistic manifesto, finishing it in the fall of 1922. His journal focused not just on basic artistic principles, such as line and form, but also his own American version of Cubism which blended both high and low art. He sought an expression of everyday American life and popular culture, citing Babe Ruth and 'sporty automobiles' as examples. He stated "Simply take some things you like and make something out of them. 'Copy Nature' only copy the nature of the present days – photographs and advertisements. Tobacco cans and bags and tomato can labels..." (The Modern West, p. 154). Works such as Lucky Strike (1921, Museum of Modern Art, New York) exemplified this new credo, displaying Davis' Cubist technique of flattening the picture plane through the use of text, while raising a decidedly low brow object of a cigarette box to the realm of fine art. This use of everyday objects in his pictures was inspired in part by Dadaists Marcel Duchamp and Francis Picabia. Davis had begun to paint everyday objects like the handsaw in the early twenties, and it was in New Mexico that the eggbeater first made its appearance. Davis would continually refer back to both of these objects throughout the course of his career. In Still Life with Map, New Mexico a pale magenta saw and a blue map are juxtaposed within an interior green and red border in a noticeably two-dimensional picture plane. Though New Mexico is the source for this image, Davis has reduced the landscape to a mere suggestion of a mountain along the bottom edge. Instead of a vista, the flat map functions as the memento of his travels; the map has also been reduced, indicating only the cities of Santa Fe and Gallup, as well as the Zuni Pueblo, three places he visited while traveling throughout New Mexico.

"In her exhibition catalogue, The Modern West: American Landscapes 1890-1950, Emily Neff describes the painting as: "Witty colorful, engaging, and muscular. The painting moves back and forth between flatness and allusions to three-dimensionality, embodied strategically in the map's form. Like a conventional painting of a landscape, a map by its nature reduces three dimensions to a flat surface. The can appears as a 'regular' object but also assumes the form of a roadrunner or some sort of figure dashing across the landscape. This jolly tension gives the painting a startling presence that Davis's bold colors of green, pink, red, and blue make even more vivid, especially as the artist uses them to create a frame, a device that first appears during his New Mexico period and will become a leitmotif in his work. Just as the painted frame of the map within the painting objectifies the landscape, the painted 'frame' literally turns the artist's experience of the landscape and also his experience of painting it into a picture" (The Modern West, p. 156).

"With its sun-drenched plains and natural sculptural forms, New Mexico turned out to be an ideal place for Davis's pursuit of abstraction. Ultimately, however, the desert's distance from the energy of quickly modernizing cities ran counter to Davis's interest in an artform that engaged contemporary life. In October 1923 he suddenly indicated a desire to go home. He reflected in 1945 that New Mexico was "a place for an ethnologist not an artist. Not sufficient intellectual stimulus." Davis would go on to emerge as one of the most important pioneers of American modernism, but would never return to New Mexico to paint again.

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