63
63
Elihu Vedder
YOUNG MARSYAS (MARSYAS ENCHANTING THE HARES)
Estimate
30,00040,000
LOT SOLD. 93,750 USD
JUMP TO LOT
63
Elihu Vedder
YOUNG MARSYAS (MARSYAS ENCHANTING THE HARES)
Estimate
30,00040,000
LOT SOLD. 93,750 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

American Paintings, Drawings & Sculpture

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New York

Elihu Vedder
1836 - 1923
YOUNG MARSYAS (MARSYAS ENCHANTING THE HARES)
signed Elihu Vedder  and dated 1878 (lower left); signed and titled Young Marsyas on an old handwritten label affixed to the backing
oil on canvas
37 1/4 by 53 3/4 in.
94.5 by 136.5 cm.
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Provenance

Mr. and Mrs. Frank Tracy, Buffalo, New York (acquired from the artist, July, 1879)
Mrs. Harold G. Henderson, New York (Sold:  Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York, April 20-22, 1943, lot 347)
Renaissance Art Gallery (acquired at the above auction)
Rudoph Berger, New York
Carole L. Berger, New York (by descent from the above)
By descent to the present owner from the above, 2011

 

Exhibited

Paris, Exposition Universelle, May 1 – November 10, 1878
New York,  American Academy of Arts and Letters, The Works of Elihu Vedder, November 12, 1937 – April 3, 1938, number 64.

Literature

Regina Soria, Elihu Vedder, American Visionary Artist in Rome, Rutherford, 1970, pages 117-119, 318 number 319, illustration 18.

Catalogue Note

Sotheby’s is pleased to be offering this important painting by Elihu Vedder, The Young Marsyas Charming the Hares, long lost and thought to have been destroyed.

The idea for the painting emerged late in 1877, as Carrie Vedder, the artist’s wife, explained the theme in a letter to her father-in-law: "Marsyas was the Faun, you know, who had a contest of musical skill with Apollo, Marsyas playing the pipes, with Apollo his lyre….Vedder says that before trying his skill with Apollo he must have proved his pipes on something, and as Apollo made the trees and stones come to hear him Marsyas must, at least, have charmed the hares."

In her diary, Carrie records that on January 10, 1878,  she ‘went with Vedder to buy some hares at the Pantheon’; so by this time he was ready to start, or was already working on, the picture.

The scene, set at the edge of a snow-laden woodland, is recognizable as a New England winter scene rather than the Roman Campagna.   This suggests that Vedder aimed for a sale to a client from the United States, which remained his main market.

American visitors were a common sight in Rome that winter.  Writers and artists took apartments and affluent tourists followed.  Picnics and concerts were organized for them and, for those in the know, a visit to Vedder’s studio was obligatory.  In late March, the Vedders had a magnificent reception, comprising ‘about 125 people, principally American and English.’   The guest list included General U.S. Grant and the United States Consul General.  The main event at the gathering was the first public display of two pictures, The Young Marsyas Charming the Hares and The Cumaean Sibyl.  These pictures were destined for public exhibition in Paris at the Exposition Universelle, due to open in May.  Vedder hoped that the promise of this exhibition would stimulate a sale.  Alas, this did not come about.  Though much praise was heard that afternoon, the following month Vedder shipped the two paintings to France for the exhibition as his property.  When he saw the display in June, he was disappointed, complaining in a letter to Carrie that ‘the room is low, and the light is of such a quality that, at least that day, it seemed to take all the color out, at least mine.’

Apparently, the picture was exhibited unfinished.  Carrie reports in a letter dated June 14, 1879, ‘V. finished Marsyas.’  Then it was sold, to Mr. & Mrs. Frank Tracy of Buffalo, N.Y., for $2,000.  Its next owner had it until 1943 when it was sold at auction to a New York dealer, who probably then sold it to Rudolph Berger, in whose family it has remained until now.

American Paintings, Drawings & Sculpture

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New York