Lot 147
  • 147

Charles Sheeler 1883-1965

bidding is closed


  • Charles Sheeler
  • San Francisco (Fisherman's Wharf)
  • signed Sheeler and dated 1956, l.r.
  • oil on canvas
  • 31 1/2 by 21 1/2 in.
  • (80 by 54.6 cm)


The Downtown Gallery, New York
The Sara Roby Foundation, New York
Terry Dintenfass Gallery, New York
William C. Janss (sold: Sotheby's, New York, May 24, 2000, lot 189, illustrated in color)
Acquired by the present owner at the above sale


The American Federation of Arts, The Collection of the Sara Roby Foundation, September 1966-June 1968, no. 48, illustrated
Washington, D.C., National Collection of Fine Arts, Smithsonian Institute; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Museum of Art; New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, Charles Sheeler, October 1968-April 1969, no. 155, p. 29, illustrated p. 143 (as San Francisco)
The American Federation of Arts, Americans: Individualists at Work, September 1972-September 1974, no. 24
The American Federation of Arts, Selections from the Sara Roby Foundation Collection, September-December 1978, no. 38
New York, Terry Dintenfass Gallery, Charles Sheeler (1883-1965), Classic Themes: Paintings, Drawings and Photographs, May 1980, no. 46, illustrated
Boise, Idaho, The Boise Gallery of Art, American Modernists, August-October 1982
Boston, Massachusetts, Museum of Fine Arts; New York, Whitney Museum of American Art; Dallas, Texas, Dallas Museum of Art, Charles Sheeler: Paintings and Drawings, October 1987-July 1988, no. 82, p. 210, illustrated in color p. 213
San Francisco, California, John Berggruen Gallery, American Modernism: Paintings and Drawings from the Collection of William and Glenn Janss, September-October 1996, illustrated in color p. 24
San Francisco, California, San Francisco Museum of Art (on loan)


Martin Friedman, Charles Sheeler, New York, 1975, illustrated in color p. 206 (as San Francisco)

Catalogue Note

Charles Sheeler traveled to the West Coast during the summer of 1956 and spent much of his time touring San Francisco and Yosemite. His works from this trip depict well-known sites such as Fisherman's Wharf rendered in the present painting, and the Golden Gate Bridge. Sheeler's late works evolved primarily from photographs, from which he made studies in gouache on glass or tempera on plexiglas. These surfaces gave him the ability to make changes with a wipe of a sponge. Carol Troyen and Erica B. Hirshler write, "San Francisco (Fisherman's Wharf) is based on photographs of the prow of a fisherman's dinghy. In the photographs, the gunwales, oarlocks, and seats cast complex shadows as the boat sparkles in the sunlight. Sheeler's overlapping technique in the oil multiplies the effect, creating sharp, bold shapes and equally bold shadows that form a patchwork across the surface of the canvas" (Charles Sheeler: Paintings and Drawings, Boston, 1987, p. 212).

In discussing San Francisco (Fisherman's Wharf), Ms. Troyen and Ms. Hirshler continue, "Sheeler's color attains new brilliance and luminosity in this picture. The vibrant squares and irregular geometric shapes with crisp edges suggest a highly colored mosaic or--in an effect heightened by his thin, textureless application of paint--dazzling prisms of stained glass. The boat itself, shown upended and parallel to the picture plane, also evokes architectual form. Filling the visual field, looming upward with monumental presence, these arched shapes with pointed tops recall the slender lancet windows of a Gothic cathedral" (Charles Sheeler: Paintings and Drawings, p. 212). The present work illustrates Sheeler's ability to transform a simple boat into an abstract pattern and pays homage to his appreciation for modern technology.