4th Jun, 2023 14:00 EDT

American Art and Pennsylvania Impressionists Featuring the Papageorge Family Collection

  Lot 61


Horace Pippin (American, 1888-1946)
Portrait of Major-General Smedley D. Butler, U.S.M.C. (Retired)

Signed 'H. PIPPIN' bottom right, oil on canvas
19 1/4 by 25 1/8 in. (48.3 x 63.5cm)
Executed in 1937-1938.


The Artist.
A gift from the above.
Bernard F. Schlegel Post and Charles F. Moran Post, from the American Legion Post 134, West Chester, Pennsylvania.

Acquired directly from the above in 1965.
Collection of Philip D. Jamison, Jr., West Chester, Pennsylvania.
Property from the Estate of Philip D. Jamison, Jr.

$250,000 - $400,000

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Signed 'H. PIPPIN' bottom right, oil on canvas
19 1/4 by 25 1/8 in. (48.3 x 63.5cm)
Executed in 1937-1938.


The Artist.
A gift from the above.
Bernard F. Schlegel Post and Charles F. Moran Post, from the American Legion Post 134, West Chester, Pennsylvania.

Acquired directly from the above in 1965.
Collection of Philip D. Jamison, Jr., West Chester, Pennsylvania.
Property from the Estate of Philip D. Jamison, Jr.


"Seventh Annual Exhibition," Chester County Art Center, West Chester, Pennsylvania, 1938 (as General Butler), on loan from the Artist.
"Horace Pippin Exhibition," Carlen Galleries, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1940.
"Paintings by Horace Pippin," Bignou Gallery, New York, New York, 1940 (as Portrait of Major-General Smedley D. Butler).
"Exhibition of Paintings by Horace Pippin," Arts Club of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, 1941 (as Portrait of Major-General Smedley D. Butler, U.S.M.C., 1937).
"Four Delaware Valley Primitives," Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington, Delaware, 1974, no. 52.
"Horace Pippin Exhibition," Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C., February 25-March 27, 1977; also Terry Dintenfass Gallery, New York, New York, April 5-April 30, 1977; and Brandywine Museum of Art, Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, June 4-September 7, 1977, no. 5 (traveling exhibition).
"I Tell My Heart: The Art of Horace Pippin," Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, January 21-April 17, 1994; also The Art Institute of Chicago, April 30-July 10, 1994; also Cincinnati Art Museum, July 28-October 9, 1994; also The Baltimore Museum of Art, October 26, 1994-January 1, 1995; and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, February 1-April 30, 1995, no. 22 (traveling exhibition).


George H. Straley, "General Butler Pleased with Portrait, Especially Way Artist Painted Nose" in Daily Local News, 1938.
William J. Johnston, "West Chester Post 162" in Pippin Clippings Scrapbook, Robert Carlen Papers, Archives of American Art, 1940.
Selden Rodman, Horace Pippin: A Negro Painter in America, The Quadrangle Press, New York, 1947, p. 13, no. 20 (listed, not illustrated).
Romare Bearden, et al., Horace Pippin, an exhibition catalogue, The Phillips Collection, Washington D.C., 1977, p. 13, no. 5 (illustrated as Major-General Smedley D. Butler, U.S.M.C, Retired).
Sarah J. Wilson, Horace Pippin: A Chester County Artist, Chester County Historical Society, West Chester, 1988, Vol. 8.
Judith E. Stein, I Tell My Heart: The Art of Horace Pippin, an exhibition catalogue, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, 1993, no. 88, pp. 96, 102, 104, 167, 179, 187 and 196, no. 22 (illustrated p. 102).

Romare Bearden and Harry Henderson, A History of African American Artists from 1792 to the Present, Pantheon Books, New York, 1993, p. 363 (illustrated).
Audrey Lewis, Horace Pippin: The Way I See It, Scala Arts Publishers, Inc., New York, 2015, pl. 20 (illustrated).
Celeste Marie Bernier, Suffering and Sunset: World War I in the Art and Life of Horace Pippin, Temple University Press, Philadelphia, 2015, p. 125 (illustrated).
Anne Monahan, Isabelle Duvernois and Silvia A. Centeno, "'Working My Thought More Perfectly': Horace Pippin's 'The Lady of the Lake'" in The Metropolitan Museum Journal, vol. 52, 2017, pp. 104, 107, n2.
Katherine Jentleson, Gatecrashers: The Rise of the Self-Taught Artist in America, University of California Press, Oakland, 2020, p. 83 (illustrated).
Anne Monahan, Horace Pippin: American Modern, Yale University Press, New Haven, 2020, pp. 6, 37, 50-51, 67, 118, 120-21, 157, 164-65, 174 and 197, no. 57 (illustrated).


Horace Pippin, a titan of 20th-century painting and one of Philadelphia’s favorite sons, executed his portrait of West Chester, Pennsylvania native Major-General Smedley Darlington Butler in 1937. Over a 34-year career in the United States Marine Corps, Butler served with distinction in far-reaching military actions, including the Spanish-American War, the Boxer Rebellion in China, and in France during World War I. Nicknamed the “Fighting Quaker,” he retired in 1931 as the most decorated marine in U.S. history, earning 16 military medals—5 of them for valor—and the Medal of Honor twice.

Following his retirement, Butler emerged as an outspoken critic of American interventionism. His 1935 speech (and subsequent book), War is a Racket, offered a sharp rebuke: “In the World War a mere handful garnered the profits of the conflict. At least 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires were made in the United States during the World War...How many of these war millionaires shouldered a rifle?...The general public shoulders the bill...For a great many years, as a soldier, I had a suspicion that war was a racket; not until I retired to civil life did I fully realize it. Now that I see the international war clouds gathering, as they are today, I must face it and speak out.”

Pippin’s portrait offers a visual analogue to the General’s comments. Against a blue sky, Butler is flanked by a ribbon-like cloud formation—“international war clouds,” arguably. Outfitted in full regalia, his military achievements–and record of meritorious service–are on full display. Butler’s mouth, slightly agape, alludes to his outspokenness. Bright colors, flattened forms, and an uncomplicated perspective are characteristic of Pippin’s self-taught, non-academic style. Alongside religious subjects, recollections of his own WWI service, and sympathetic renderings of the African-American experience, his body of work–and the present painting in particular–pays tribute to heroes both historical and contemporary, national and local.


The relined canvas in overall good condition, with scattered surface soiling in the clearest parts of the canvas (mostly the sky), which brings out signs of discoloration, thus warranting a light cleaning although most of it is likely due to the artist's working technique as the paint layers have been lightly applied onto the canvas. We notice the ground of the canvas (not primed) along the right outer edge. Slight buckle at center of the bottom outer edge. Examination under UV light reveals minor inpainting in bottom right corner, bottom left corner as well as at upper left corner. Careful and precise inpainting also seen along the right outer edge at at center of the left outer edge. The composition itself is intact, with remnants of old varnish on the General's coat. See Specialits's picture for more details.

To receive additional information about this Lot, please email Specialist Raphael Chatroux at rchatroux@freemansauction.com.

Frame: 25 1/2 x 31 3/4 x 2 in.

Please note: All lots show signs of wear consistent with age and use, and the absence of a statement regarding condition issues does not imply that the lot is in perfect condition or completely free from imperfections or the effects of aging.

Unless otherwise noted, all information provided is the opinion of Freeman's specialists.

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