Lot 31
  • 31

Georgia O'Keeffe 1887 - 1986

450,000 - 650,000 USD
Log in to view results
bidding is closed


  • Georgia O'Keeffe
  • Oak Leaves
  • oil on panel
  • 9 5/8 by 7 3/8 inches
  • (24.4 by 19.4 cm)
  • Painted in 1923.


The Anderson Galleries, New York
Private Collection, New York, 1924 (acquired from the above)
By descent to the present owners


New York, The Anderson Galleries, Alfred Steiglitz Presents Fifty-One Recent Pictures: Oils, Water-colors, Pastels, Drawings, by Georgia O'Keeffe, American, March 1924


Barbara Buhler Lynes, Georgia O'Keeffe: Catalogue Raisonné, New Haven, Connecticut, 1999, vol. II, appendix II, no. 41, p. 1102


This work is in excellent condition. There is a small area of minor paint separation in the red pigment in the leaf at left center and one pindot of loss in the upper center. There are a few minor surface accretions. Under UV: a few spots fluoresce eccentrically but appear to be inherent to the artist's technique and materials.
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.

Catalogue Note

Georgia O’Keeffe first visited Lake George, New York in 1908. A decade passed before she returned to the area, during which time she worked as a commercial artist in Chicago and as an art teacher in Texas, simultaneously evolving her artistic practice through various media and subject matter. One such venture, a series of innovative charcoal abstractions executed in 1916, brought O’Keeffe to the attention of Alfred Stieglitz. By 1918 the two were inextricably intertwined; he was her mentor and gallerist, she was his muse. Stieglitz and O’Keeffe would ultimately marry and for the next 11 years divide their time between his apartment in New York City and Oaklawn, the Stieglitz family’s cottage on the shores of Lake George. The couple's creative and artistic output during this period is arguably one of the most significant contributions to American modernism.

Feeling increasingly suffocated by New York City, O’Keeffe sought refuge in the area surrounding Lake George. Focusing on magnified images of flowers and leaves, O’Keeffe rediscovered her interest in still-life compositions. By purposefully magnifying her subject, much in the same way the cameras of Stieglitz and Paul Strand zoomed in mechanically, she was able to isolate the image and concentrate fully on color and form. As her approach developed, the increasing size and scale of the subject, as well as the selectivity of her compositional details, began to exert a more profound visual resonance. O’Keeffe’s tendency toward abstraction was a conscious one-while her vision remained tempered with vestiges of realism, she sought and achieved something more individual. “It is surprising to me to see how many people separate the objective from the abstract," she observed. "Objective painting is not good painting unless it is good in the abstract sense. A hill or tree cannot make a good painting just because it is a hill or a tree. It is lines and colors put together so that they say something. For me that is the very basis of painting” (Barbara Haskell, Georgia O’Keeffe: Abstraction, New York, 2009, p. 166).

Oak Leaves beautifully exemplifies the balance O’Keeffe established between abstraction and realism. Barbara Lynes writes, “She cropped forms, eliminated or distorted relationships between foreground and background elements, compressed space, and forced her subjects forward, as if seen through a close-up lens…It is clear that O’Keeffe was fascinated with the world around her, and she collected objects whose particular qualities—color, shape, texture—symbolized for her the meaning of a specific place or experience…and by isolating them from any environmental reference transformed the simple and seemingly nondescript objects into centralized, monumental forms” (Georgia O’Keeffe Museum Collections, New York, 2007, pp. 143, 175). Painted in 1923, Oak Leaves belongs to one of the most formative periods in the artist’s career, during which time she defined the imagery that would characterize her most iconic works.