24
24

PROPERTY FROM A MIDWESTERN ESTATE

Grant Wood
PORTRAIT OF MRS. DONALD MACMURRAY
Estimate
600,000800,000
LOT SOLD. 680,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT
24

PROPERTY FROM A MIDWESTERN ESTATE

Grant Wood
PORTRAIT OF MRS. DONALD MACMURRAY
Estimate
600,000800,000
LOT SOLD. 680,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

American Art

|
New York

Grant Wood
1891 - 1942
PORTRAIT OF MRS. DONALD MACMURRAY
signed GRANT/WOOD and dated 1933 (lower right)
oil on Masonite
24 by 21 inches
(61 by 53.3 cm)
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This painting will be included in Joseph S. Czestochowski's forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the artist's work by InternationalArts® at www.catrais.org. We wish to thank him for his assistance cataloguing this lot.

Provenance

Donald MacMurray, Chicago, Illinois (the sitter's husband, commissioned from the artist)
Mildred Klein (the sitter, by descent)
Sherman Sexton, 1950 (her later husband)
William and Margo Sexton (by descent)
By descent in the family
(possibly) [With]R.H. Love Galleries, Inc., Chicago, Illinois
Acquired by the present owner from the above, circa 1990

Exhibited

Chicago, Illinois, The Lakeside Press Galleries; New York, Ferargil Galleries, Catalogue of a Loan Exhibition of Drawings and Paintings by Grant Wood, February-April 1935, no. 47, p. 28

Literature

Darrell Garwood, Artist in Iowa: A Life of Grant Wood, New York, 1944, pp. 211-12, 253
Nan Wood Graham, Photographs of Grant Wood Paintings Compiled by Nan Wood Graham, 1968, unpublished scrapbooks, vol. 15, p. 64, illustrated
Joseph S. Czestochowski, Marvin D. Cone and Grant Wood: An American Tradition, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 1990, p. 197
Nan Wood Graham, My Brother, Grant Wood, Maryville, Missouri, 1993, p. 94

Catalogue Note

We are grateful to Joseph S. Czestochowski for preparing the following essay:

Throughout his life, Grant Wood was keenly interested in portraiture, from his own self-portraits painted between 1917 and the late 1930s, to those of close friends, periodic commissions and those simply of artistic interest to him. Portrait of Mrs. Donald MacMurray is a wonderful example of Wood’s noted efforts in this genre, which included, among others: Portrait of John B. Turner, 1928-30 (Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, Iowa), his mother in Woman with Plants, 1929 (Cedar Rapids Museum of Art), Portrait of Francis Fiske Marshall, 1929 (Cedar Rapids Museum of Art), Portrait of Mary Van Vechten and Susan Angevine Schaffer, 1930; Portrait of Nan, 1931 (Private collection), The American Golfer, 1940 (Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas), and of course, his iconic portraits in American Gothic (Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois) of his sister Nan Wood Graham and their dentist Byron McKeeby.

The artist was likely familiar with Mrs. MacMurray through his relationship to Sara Sherman Maxon, of Michigan City, Indiana, who was the former head of the School of Fine Arts there, and very active in regional theater and music circles. Wood and Sara Maxon were married from 1935 to 1939. Mrs. MacMurray was an avid art collector, active in Chicago symphony and cultural circles. Despite her wealth, Wood portrayed her in a humble dress with no jewelry in a rural setting, but he clearly delighted in the contrast of patterns in her clothing. Clearly evidenced in this patterning is Wood's technique of applying glazes in select areas before carving into them with a knife. Perhaps as a further acknowledgement of the hard times during the Great Depression she holds a very commonplace fern flower with its myriad meanings of hope, good luck, happiness, humility, sincerity, and confidence, among others, and perhaps indicating the sitter's keen interest in gardening. In any case, it was an important reflection of the Victorian culture, the concurrent mania for ferns and the social history of a time that was passing in the early twentieth century.

American Art

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New York