Lot 49
  • 49

Edward Henry Potthast

250,000 - 350,000 USD
250,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Edward Henry Potthast
  • Playing in the Surf
  • signed E. Potthast (lower right)
  • oil on canvas


Private collection, Oklahoma (sold: Christie's, New York, December 4, 2008, lot 92)
Acquired by the present owner at the above sale

Catalogue Note

The Cincinnati-born artist Edward Potthast began his artistic education at the McMicken School of Design in 1870 and continued his studies at the Art Academy of Cincinnati. He went abroad in the late 1880s, traveling to Antwerp, Munich and Paris. By 1889-90, Potthast had arrived at the informal artist colony at Grez-sur-Loing, where he was influenced by the French Impressionists and befriended the expatriate artist, Robert Vonnoh, who introduced him to landscape painting. Potthast returned to the United States in 1894, living both in Cincinnati and New York for the next few years. He ultimately settled in New York in 1896.

Potthast spent many summers traveling along the New England coastline, visiting the beaches of Monhegan Island and Ogunquit in Maine, as well as Gloucester and Rockport in Massachusetts. When it wasn't possible to travel far from New York, Potthast would take his paints and canvases to study the local crowds at Coney Island and Far Rockaway. William H. Gerdts writes, "He is best known today for his scenes of beaches in New York, where he moved in 1896. These may be later pictures though they tend to be undated. Potthast maintained an Impressionist commitment from his days at Grez, but his adoption of carefree bathers as subjects may have developed in the 1910s. (The catalogue of Potthast's one-man show at the J.W.S. Young gallery in Chicago in March 1920 noted that the artist had begun to exhibit a series of beach scenes only recently). These paintings are often of children playing on the sand or in the water, rendered in generalized form and painted with emphasis on flat patterns of beach umbrellas, balloons, and bathing caps. Painted in both thickly impastoed oils and free-flowing washes, they seem inspired, at least in part, by the work of the Spanish artist linked to Impressionism, Joaquín Sorolla, while also recalling similar subjects by William Glackens and, particularly, by Maurice Prendergast" (American Impressionism, New York, 1984, p. 244).