Lot 65
  • 65

Thomas Worthington Whittredge

300,000 - 500,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Thomas Worthington Whittredge
  • The Old Homestead, Newport, Rhode Island
  • signed W. Whittredge (lower right)
  • oil on canvas
  • 35 3/8 by 55 1/2 inches
  • (90.4 by 140.9 cm)
  • Painted circa 1872.


Kennedy Galleries, New York, by 1970
Acquired by the present owner from the above, circa 1970s


New York, Kennedy Galleries, An Exhibition of Oil Paintings, March 1970, no. 5


Anthony F. Janson, Worthington Whittredge, Boston, Massachusetts, 1989, p. 142, illustrated fig. 108


The following condition report has been provided by Simon Parkes, Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc. 502 East 74th St. New York, NY 212-734-3920, simonparkes@msn.com, an independent restorer who is not an employee of Sotheby's. The work has been restored. It has never been abraded and the details throughout the picture, particularly the lower half, are very well preserved. As one would expect in large scale pictures such as this, there are areas that do need attention. In the darker colors of the trees in the back of the road in the foreground, a few cracks have been retouched. In the beach there is a slightly uneven area of darker pigment between the grass and water which has been retouched slightly. In the sky on the right side we can see the faint remnants of a pentemento here in the water and the lower sky. This pentemento stretches upwards towards the upper right corner. On the left side, there is an old pentemento of what appears to be a large tree, with the trunk extending down through the white doves towards the top of the house on the left side. These indications of a previous composition have been reduced in retouching. Pentimente are a normal and interesting development in art and certainly not considered to be damage. The retouches have been applied carefully and thoughtfully. The work should be hung in its current state.
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

After spending his early adult years, from 1849 to 1859, traveling through Europe, Thomas Worthington Whittredge returned to the United States and established his career as a landscape painter. His focus on natural subjects and the acute attention to detail he achieved in his compositions often affiliated him with the painters of the Hudson River School, who privileged similar artistic concerns in their own work. In the late 1860s, Whittredge found inspiration in beaches and bodies of water of Newport, Rhode Island. The artist was also captivated by the colonial architecture—then in the midst of a revival—that he observed there, and which he had first discovered as a young child. "Torn between his Hudson River outlook and the Barbizon aesthetic,” Anthony F. Janson writes of this pivotal period in the artist’s career, “[Whittredge] now found it difficult to reconcile the contradictions between the two seemingly incompatible schools.  Realizing that he had to change his style without renouncing his artistic personality, Whittredge turned to Newport for his subject matter.  The familiar coast of Rhode Island held deep personal associations unburdened by Hudson River rhetoric or Barbizon ethos, and it was there that he would achieve a new synthesis" (Worthington Whittredge, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1989, p. 163).

In The Old Homestead, Newport, Rhode Island, Whittredge offers a panoramic view of the Newport coastline with a shingled farmhouse nestled in the foreground. Although the house in this painting has not been concretely identified, this structure features often in the artist’s Newport pictures. Though Whittredge renders the farmhouse, figures and other signs of human presence with meticulous details, his composition undoubtedly emphasizes the vastness and grandeur of the Newport landscape, indicating that this is his primary subject. Indeed, The Old Homestead, Newport, Rhode Island portrays nature as a powerful and prominent entity, consistent with the message of Whittredge’s most important works.