Galerias La Granja, Mexico City Collection of James K. Wilson, Tuscon Thence by descent to the previous owner
This is one of the largest and most important compositions of the Valley of Mexico by Conrad Wise Chapman to be offered at auction. Chapman was an American artist from a family of painters from Virginia. His father, John Gadsby Chapman, took the family to Italy in 1848. Chapman returned to the United States to fight on the side of the Confederacy during the American Civil War. When the South lost, he escaped to Mexico only to find himself in the middle of the short lived French occupation and war of Liberation. Mexico was to be a second home to him and he became well known for his views of Mexico, especially the wide panoramas of the Valley of Mexico. This present painting depicts farmers bringing in the harvest and taking a midday meal beside a haystack, with the Lake of Texcoco and the mountains in the background. Chapman includes an unusual theme on the right hand side of the composition: men and horses threshing the grain while mounted charros watch on.
This work has been fairly recently lined with wax as an adhesive. The paint layer and the cracking are
secure and in plane. Although the lining has visibly pressed the pigment in the sky, there is still a fair
amount of texture in the foreground. More texture would be acquired if the painting were cleaned.
Some portions of the picture are cleaned more than others at present. It can be seen that old varnish
remains in the interstices of the heavier pigment in the foreground. Under ultraviolet light, retouches that reduce some cracking are visible in the sky. The remainder of the picture seems to be mostly unretouched. It is recommended that the work be cleaned again in order to remove the restorations and any old dirt in the foreground; the picture could then be restored more accurately. The painting is in very good state despite the slight lack of texture as a result of the lining. (This condition report has been provided courtesy of Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc.)
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE PRINTED IN THE CATALOGUE.