Freeman's Vice Chairman and fine art specialist Alasdair Nichol chooses some of his favorite pieces in our June 5 auction American Art & Pennsylvania Impressionists. Exhibition for this sale opens to the public on Tuesday, June 1 at 10am. We invite you to join us to view these, and the many other fine examples of American art being offered.
I always enjoy art which has the power to transport the viewer to a specific time and place, in this instance we have a vivid evocation of a market in Lahore (then in India, now in Pakistan) in the early 1890's. The artist succeeds in bringing the scene alive through his use of loose impressionistic brushwork which contrasts effectively with the detailed draftsmanship used to describe the architecture. It is a particularly impressive feat as we know that Weeks would have painted this work in situ and en plein air. The golden domes in the background, the startling white accents of the figures' clothing in the foreground and the dramatic use of light and shadow give this work a unique and distinctive flavor that brings the scene alive.
Edwin Lord Weeks
"Market Scene, Lahore" (detail)
Guy Pene DuBois' depictions of life in the Jazz Age have become increasingly sought after in recent years and in this painting we witness a dramatic rendition of a jury arguing a case. The muted tones and palette allow us to focus on the extravagant and theatrical gestures and expressions of the participants locked in a heated debate. This mise en scene brings to mind a favorite film, Sidney Lumet's 'Twelve Angry Men' - or, in this case, Eleven Angry Men and A Woman...
Guy Pène du Bois
"Locked Jury" (detail)
Perhaps the most idiosyncratic of the Pennsylvania Impressionists Fern Coppedge was in many regards also the most adventurous of the group. She was clearly aware of modernist developments on the continent and her dynamic and joyous use of color owes much to the Fauves and the Expressionist painters- not least to the renowned German woman artist Gabriele Munter with whom she may have sensed a kinship. This painting , a particularly fine example from her series painted in and around Gloucester, shows her at the height of her powers with the almost calligraphic brushwork in the foreground, dramatic composition and, above all, vivid color.
Fern Isabel Coppedge
"Harbor Scene" (detail)
When I first moved to New York, I often arranged to meet visiting friends at the historic Oak Bar at the Plaza Hotel - many lively martini fueled evenings were spent there. The most famous features of the bar are of course the three large Everett Shinn murals which dominate the room. According to a note by the artist verso, this work was executed as one of the 'first sketches made for decorations in the Hotel Plaza bar'. Depicting the bustle of Manhattan street life outside the Plaza and coming with an impressive provenance and exhibition history,including at the Museum of Modern Art, it brings back many fond memories.
"The Plaza Looking Northeast at 59th Street" (detail)
One of America's most beloved and greatest illustrators, NC Wyeth is justly celebrated for the memorable images that he created for many of the greatest literary classics. Relatively recently Freeman's successfully sold a group of his paintings which were painted to illustrate the story of Robinson Crusoe. This painting entitled 'After The Day's Work' was used to illustrate a school textbook and thematically is closer in many ways to the work of that other giant of American illustration, Norman Rockwell. It depicts an idyllic family scene, a veritable slice of Americana, which will surely strike a chord with many nostalgic for less troubled and apparently much simpler times. In a private collection since it was acquired at auction in 1993 we are pleased to feature it as our front cover lot.
Newell Convers Wyeth
"After the Day's Work" (Arriving Home) (detail)