Lot 58
  • 58

Richard La Barre Goodwin 1840 - 1910

300,000 - 500,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Richard La Barre Goodwin
  • Hunting Cabin Door
  • signed R. La Barre Goodwin./fecit (lower right)
  • oil on canvas
  • 76 1/4 by 40 inches
  • (193.7 by 101.6 cm)


M. Knoedler & Co., New York
Acquired by the present owner from the above, 1969


This work is in very good condition. The canvas is unlined on a contemporary mechanical stretcher and there are stretcher bar marks across the center and at the edges. There are some scattered cracks and ridges primarily in the background. Under UV: there is some inpainting to frame abrasion at the edges to allow for the float frame, and three 1-inch lines of inpainting in the lower right quadrant.
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

Richard La Barre Goodwin’s most celebrated works are deceptive trompe l’oeil compositions depicting game and hunting accessories against rustic cabin doors, which he painted from 1889 until his death in 1910.  These works were inspired by William Michael Harnett’s After the Hunt series, the fourth version of which was well-known as it hung in Theodore Stewart’s saloon on Warren Street in New York beginning in 1886. Often displayed in the bar room or den, these homages to masculine leisure activity were a response to the burgeoning popularity of sporting in America among both artists and their patrons.  William H. Gerdts and Russell Burke write, “Urbanization and an urban economy made the former critical pursuits of life–hunting and fishing–the purpose of pleasant outings for gentleman.  The pantheistic philosophy of American painters at the mid-century caused large numbers of them to take avidly to forest and stream” (American Still-Life Painting, New York, 1971, p. 121).

Hunting Cabin Door is an outstanding example of this genre in its degree of detail and quality of composition.  While certain aspects of the work such as the artist’s signature, which appears carved into the door, are a nod to Harnett, the overall aesthetic is inimitably Goodwin.  Hunting Cabin Door is a study in balance, design and texture executed in a tonal palette.  Goodwin carefully arranges the “casually” placed elements against the rigid lines of the door to create an image that is simultaneously deceptive and visually compelling.  He uses the boots and butt of the rifle to anchor the composition and spatially orient the viewer, building on this base with a syncopated placement of objects and surfaces.  The raucous flurry of fowl is wonderfully juxtaposed with the more rigid lines of rifle, leather strap and powder horn.  Horizontally the composition is anchored by the fringed game bag balanced with the door handle and vertically the soft hat echoes the broken-in leather of the boots.  Thus he creates a wonderful series of visual dialogues that leads the viewer’s eye through the painting.  Alfred Frankenstein comments on Goodwin’s compositional strategy, “The whole thing is like a rocket in flight, although there is none of the nervous free brushwork commonly associated with such expressions of energy” (After the Hunt: William Harnett and Other American Still Life Painters, 1870-1900, Berkeley, California, 1953, p. 133).  Although his basic compositional strategy is similar in all the cabin door pictures, the degree of complexity varies significantly.  Hunting Cabin Door is exemplary in the number of pictorial elements as well as the degree of detail with which they are rendered.  And, at the very top of the present work is a wonderful element of autobiographical wit. Tucked under a splinter of the door is a letter addressed to Goodwin’s father, the portrait painter “Mr. E. W. Goodwin.”  “Albany,” the younger Goodwin’s birthplace, is written on the envelope and it is postmarked “Mar 21 1840,” his birth year.

Goodwin was an itinerant painter who traveled extensively throughout the United States including New York, Illinois, Washington, D.C., Illinois, Colorado, and California.  He counted among his patrons several prestigious figures including Leland Stanford and the Hearst family.  Virginia Sandwick Schmitt comments of his popularity, “R. L. Goodwin’s life and his sophisticated and highly realistic hunting-related still lifes reflect important artistic trends of his time: rugged individualism and an interest in traveling to little known places in order to hunt and enjoy the outdoors” (Four Centuries of Sporting Art, Mumford, New York, 1984, p. 54).