Lot 83
  • 83

Charles Sprague Pearce 1851 - 1914

250,000 - 350,000 USD
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  • Charles Sprague Pearce
  • Reading by the Shore
  • signed Charles Sprague Pearce (lower right)
  • oil on canvas
  • 11 3/4 by 18 1/8 inches
  • (29.8 by 46 cm)
  • Painted circa 1883-85.


Sold: Sotheby's, New York, June 19, 1981, lot 130A, illustrated; also illustrated on the cover
Tomlinson Collection, Texas
Michelman Fine Art, New York
Acquired by the present owner from the above, 1983


Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art; San Francisco, California, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, M.H. de Young Memorial Museum; New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Detroit, Michigan, Detroit Institute of Arts, American Paintings from the Manoogian Collection, June 1989-May 1990, no. 50, p. 138, illustrated p. 139
New Haven, Connecticut, Yale University Art Gallery; Detroit, Michigan, Detroit Institute of Arts; Atlanta, Georgia, High Museum of Art, A Private View: American Paintings from the Manoogian Collection, April 1993-March 1994, no. 37, pp. 120, 122, illustrated p. 121
London, The National Gallery; Boston, Massachusetts, Museum of Fine Arts; New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Americans in Paris, February 2006-January 2007, no. 64


Mary Lublin, A Rare Elegance: The Paintings of Charles Sprague Pearce, New York, 1993, no. 18, pp. 30, 82, illustrated p. 67

Catalogue Note

Mary Lublin writes, "Perhaps Reading by the Shore was executed near the Norman beaches [on the northwest coast of France] where Pearce spent several summers during the early 1880s. The work combines a brilliant light and free handling of paint in the landscape with a tightly rendered fashion portrait of Antonia [the artist's wife]. Pearce's palette is a[n] electrifying range of colors, with the tonal range of the background liberated from the conventions of knowledge, treated with little regard to local color, or the tone inherent in an object. The pink sand beach with its lilac shadows recalls the color investigations in Impressionist works by Monet in the 1870s, although Pearce does not attempt to dissolve form under the conditions of light and atmosphere. The dazzling and stylish Japanese parasol, protecting Antonia’s face from the sun, is the true focus of the piece. It is a daring and complex compositional device, a kaleidoscope of intense tones that push the head of the figure toward the picture plane. The carefully rendered head, cast in shadow, recedes away from the viewer, while the thick border of black, radiating spokes of the parasol flatten into a two-dimensional pattern, adhering to the surface plane. This tremendous tension continues throughout, opposing spatial recession, the pull towards the distant horizon, with the areas of pure pigment and abstractly handled paint, seen, for example, in the daubs of color along the beach, and in the blocky massing of the boulders. The academically modeled and dispassionately viewed figure of Antonia is transposed into a space charged with ambiguity, invoking a modernist sensibility” (A Rare Elegance: The Paintings of Charles Sprague Pearce, New York, 1993, p. 30).