Lot 26
  • 26

Georgia O'Keeffe 1887 - 1986

500,000 - 700,000 USD
965,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Georgia O'Keeffe
  • Blue Flower (The Blue Flower)
  • inscribed For Mrs. & Dr. Hirst / Ever gratefully / Alfred Stieglitz / Oct 6 44 / Georgia O'Keeffe / "Blue Flower"  - 1928 / repainted by Alfred Stieglitz on the backing board
  • oil on board
  • 12  3/4  x 9  1/2  inches


Dr. and Mrs. Virginius Hirst, New York, 1944 (gift from Alfred Stieglitz)
Mr. and Mrs. Norman Dudley Johnson, New York, 1952 (gift)
Hirschl & Adler Galleries, New York and Mickelson Gallery, Washington, D.C., 1986
Acquired by the present owner from the above, 1986


New York, The Anderson Galleries, Alfred Steiglitz Presents Seven Americans: 159 Paintings, Photographs & Things, Recent & Never Before Publicly Shown, by Arthur G. Dove, Marsden Hartley, John Marin, Charles Demuth, Paul Strand, Georgia O'Keeffe, Alfred Stiegltiz, March 1925, no. 125 (as The Blue Flower)
New York, Union Club, Second Member's Loan Art Exhibition, October 1968
New York, M. Knoedler & Co., 19th and 20th Century American Paintings from Gallery Collections, February-March 1972, no. 1


Nicholas Callaway, ed., Georgia O'Keeffe: One Hundred Flowers, New York, 1987, no. 23, p. 110, illustrated in color p. 22
Barbara Buhler Lynes, Georgia O'Keeffe: Catalogue Raisonné, New Haven, Connecticut and London, 1999, vol. I, no. 277, p. 265, illustrated in color

Catalogue Note

Georgia O’Keeffe painted Blue Flower during a highly creative period in her career, when she began to spend nearly every summer away from New York City at the Lake George, New York home of her husband and gallerist Alfred Stieglitz. While the natural world would provide O’Keeffe with ample subject matter for decades, it was during these sojourns that she began painting the images for which she is perhaps best known: large-scale compositions of magnified flowers. O’Keeffe revered flowers for what she felt was the challenge they inherently posed to human observation. It was easy, she believed, to overlook the beauty found in these small and delicate forms. She recalled her initial attraction to the subject by saying, “So I said to myself—I’ll paint what I see—what the flower is to me but I’ll paint it big and they will be surprised into taking time to look at it—I will make even busy New Yorkers take time to see what I see of flowers (Georgia O’Keeffe: Exhibition of Oils and Pastels, New York, 1939).

O’Keeffe ultimately succeeded in this endeavor, as it was these works that captured the attention of the New York art world. They are now considered among her most innovative and original contributions to American modernism. As she simplifies, crops and enlarges the blossom, she leaves the realm of pure objectivity and instead presents its essence, compelling her viewer to experience the natural world in a new and more profound way.

O’Keeffe’s earliest depictions of the flower were tentative and executed on a small scale, but by 1924 her approach had evolved from somewhat traditional still-life arrangements to close-up studies of the blossoms themselves. The present work, which O’Keeffe painted in 1924 and revisited four years later, demonstrates how the artist utilized this subject not only to explore color and form, but also to experiment with the powerful relationship between realism and abstraction.

The distinctive composition O’Keeffe employs in paintings like Blue Flower correlates closely to the work of many modern photographers of the early 20th century. Like Alfred Stieglitz and Paul Strand, O’Keeffe focuses closely on her subject, isolating the flower from its environment to examine its form and color. This striking aesthetic approach, however, is equally indebted to her early training under the artist Arthur Wesley Dow, who emphasized the inherent symbiosis of art and personal expression. O’Keeffe was deeply influenced by Dow’s theories and in the wake of his teachings sought not to duplicate nature, but rather to record her personal expression of the world around her. She later explained, “Long ago I came to the conclusion that even if I could put down accurately the thing I saw and enjoyed, it would not give the observer the kind of feeling it gave me. I had to create an equivalent for what I felt what I was looking at—not copy it” (Marjorie Balge-Crozier, “Still Life Redefined,” Georgia O’Keeffe: The Poetry of Things, Washington, D.C., 1999, p. 69).