December 5, 2022 12:00 EST

A Beautiful Reality: The Fine Art Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Arnold Rifkin

 
  Lot 14
 

14

George Benjamin Luks (American 1866-1933)
Woman with Bouquet (Old Flower Woman)

Signed 'George luks -' [sic] bottom right, oil on canvas laid down to panel
36 x 26 in. (91.4 x 66cm)
Executed in 1918.

Provenance

Collection of Mr. and Mrs. R.L. Ritter.
Kraushaar Galleries, New York, New York.
Owen Galleries, New York, New York.
Acquired directly from the above in 1997.
Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Arnold and Sandy Rifkin, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

Estimated at $30,000 - $50,000


 

Signed 'George luks -' [sic] bottom right, oil on canvas laid down to panel
36 x 26 in. (91.4 x 66cm)
Executed in 1918.

Provenance

Collection of Mr. and Mrs. R.L. Ritter.
Kraushaar Galleries, New York, New York.
Owen Galleries, New York, New York.
Acquired directly from the above in 1997.
Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Arnold and Sandy Rifkin, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

Exhibited

"Fifteenth Exhibition of Contemporary American Oil Painting," The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio, June 7-July 7, 1935.
"American Painting from 1880 Until Today," The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio, June 22-October 4, 1937.
Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, California, n.d.
"Kansas City Collects," William Rockhill Nelson Gallery of Art, Atkins Museum of Fine Arts, Kansas City, Missouri, n.d.
"The Eight," Owen Galleries, New York, New York, April 15-June 14, 1997.

Literature

Catalogue of an Exhibition of American Painting From 1860 Until Today at the Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland Museum of Art, Celeveland, 1937, pl. XVII (17), no. 128 (illustrated).

Note

Born in Pennsylvania to Polish immigrant parents, Luks was the most outspoken figure of the group of artists known as The Eight. Mostly recognized for his gritty and striking urban scenes of New York City, he focused on the daily life of shoppers, street markets and passers-by. He also devoted a significant part of his career to painting portraits. Just like in his street scenes, Luks used portraiture to reveal the true nature of his subjects, as exemplified by the present work. Executed with force and energy, the portrait was likely derived from quick sketches the artist made outdoors, on the spot, in order to capture the true spirit of his sitter, and render its striking psychological quality. The rich impasto and dark background are characteristic of the artist’s style. They harken the oil back to Dutch and Spanish Old Masters like Frans Hals and Diego Velázquez, who strongly influenced the artist throughout his career. The painting also speaks to Luks’ humanity and awareness of all the social classes of his time, as it depicts a humble flower girl, to whom he must have felt connected since his father worked with the poorest population of New York’s East side. Luks depicts her with a raw, unfiltered lens and does not hide her advanced age or her tired features. Yet, he also gives her amused gaze to see, and captures her imposing hairstyle, which adds irony and playfulness to the picture, as well as a certain grandeur. Luks warns us: there is no need to feel sad or pitiful. The large format of the portrait confirms the woman's inner higher status to Luks's eyes, and the lushness and vibrancy of the bouquet she holds add to her regal charm.

Images *

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George Luks