Lot 52
  • 52

LOUIS RITMAN | Garden in Giverny

200,000 - 300,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Louis Ritman
  • Garden in Giverny
  • signed L. Ritman and dated 1914 (lower right)
  • oil on canvas
  • 32 by 25 3/4 inches
  • (81.3 by 65.4 cm)


Private collection, Paris, France
Campanile Galleries, Inc., Chicago, Illinois
Dr. John J. McDonough, Youngstown, Ohio (sold: Christie's, New York, December 4, 1992, lot 11)
Acquired by the present owner at the above sale


Chicago, Illinois, Campanile Galleries, Inc., American Paintings, 1977, p. 8, illustrated
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute; Columbus, Ohio, Columbus Museum of Art; Chattanooga, Tennessee, Hunter Museum of Art; Jacksonville, Florida, Cummer Museum of Art; Palm Beach, Florida, The Society of the Four Arts; Orlando, Florida, The Loch Haven Art Center; Greensburg, Pennsylvania, The Westmoreland County Museum of Art; Canton, Ohio, Canton Art Institute; Knoxville, Tennessee, Dulin Gallery of Art; Danville, Kentucky, Centre College, Norton Center for the Arts; Youngstown, Ohio, Youngstown State University; South Bend, Indiana, The Snite Museum of Art, University of Notre Dame, Directions in American Painting 1875-1925: Works from the Collection of Dr. and Mrs. John J. McDonough, June 1982-April 1987, no. 28, pp. 68-69, illustrated (as Lady in the Garden with Hollyhocks)
Columbus, Ohio, Keny and Johnson Gallery, Giverny, Past and Present, May 1984, n.p., cover illustration
Youngstown, Ohio, Youngstown State University, The John J. McDonough Museum of Art, Inaugural Exhibition, October 1991-May 1992, p. 20, illustrated p. 29


The canvas is unlined and there is frame abrasion at the extreme edges. There appears to be fine surface cracking/paint separation in some areas of thicker impasto with a few scattered specks of loss. Under UV: Although some pigments fluoresce, they appear to be the artist's original work.
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

Painted at the height of his career, Garden in Giverny is a superlative example of Louis Ritman’s ability to convey the brilliant visual effects of light and color in his own Impressionist style. Through lively broken brushwork, Ritman conveys the sensuous vitality of the multi-hued flowers in a sunlit garden. The shady earthen path is composed of loose applications of lavender and highlights of warm sun-white, while the figure is delineated with tighter, more controlled strokes. The vibrancy of the foreground recedes softly into the subtler palette of the background, suggesting the languid tranquility of afternoon sunshine among the garden paths. A highly-organized and balanced composition, Garden in Giverny showcases Ritman’s clear understanding of rich, decorative patterning, reminiscent of Nabis artists Édouard Vuillard and Pierre Bonnard. A poignant study in texture and contrast, the present work exemplifies the artist’s personal adaption of European Impressionism.

Ritman first traveled to Giverny in 1911, where he joined his friends and fellow artists Frederick Frieseke and Richard Miller. Ritman resided at the Hotel Baudy along with other expatriate Americans experimenting with European Impressionism. The artist returned to Giverny each year until 1929, often living and working in a small cottage with his models. Describing Ritman's works painted during the summer of 1914, the scholar Richard Love writes, “[he] began producing more scenes al fresco. These were still genre works in which he focused on a single figure, specifically an attractive young woman, but distinct variations appeared within overall compositional design...In some of his plein-air works, the figure takes up even more of the picture format; but in other examples from the same period, the model is relegated to a lesser role and woven almost imperceptibly into a tapestry-like background" (Louis Ritman: From Chicago to Giverny, Chicago, Illinois, 1989, p. 191).

During his time in Giverny, Ritman became particularly close to Frieseke who served as both his friend and artistic mentor. The latter artist lived adjacent to the French Impressionist Claude Monet and had a garden of his own, which he granted Ritman access to paint. Critics in the United States aptly appreciated Ritman’s association with Frieseke: “[Ritman] paints in the same style and coloring as F.C. Frieseke, with whom he has worked in Frieseke's delightful old garden...Ritman's aim, like that of his teacher, is to depict foliage in brilliant sunlight. Figures, flowers and garden furniture take their place as spots of color" (Indianapolis News, April 24, 1915, p. 209).

Ritman's subdued portrayal of a solitary female figure within an intimate setting underscores his affection for the Dutch master Johannes Vermeer. According to Richard Love, Ritman’s personal vision of Dutch intimisim was "quiet, reserved, and above all, discreet, never outside the parameters of the genteel tradition" (Love, p. 155). Though situated within Frieseke’s idyllic Giverny garden, the figure’s introspective gaze alludes to the complexities of modern life in early twentieth century France and European anxieties surrounding the First World War.