Property from the Collection of Willard and Elizabeth Clark
GEORGE DE FOREST BRUSH
1855 - 1941
signed Geo. De. F. Brush and dated 1892 (lower left)
oil on board
19 ¾ by 23 ½ inches
(50.2 by 59.7 cm)
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, firstname.lastname@example.org, an independent restorer who is not an employee of Sotheby's.
This work is in very good condition. It is painted on a board which is reinforced with a wooden stretcher on the reverse. The board is flat and the paint layer is stable. It may have been more recently cleaned. The varnish is slightly dull at present. The work is extremely detailed, and the artist's technique is very complex. The retouches are quite well applied. They are visible in the cheek of the baby, and this area is still slightly uneven and could be improved. The dark back chair leg seems to have weakened and attracted retouches, as have other areas in the background around the chair legs and above the chair seat. There are a few spots of retouching in the artist's dark coat in the lower left, and a few small retouches beneath and in his feet. The stockinged legs and britches of the standing boy have received retouches. His face, the mother's face, the woman in the upper right, the artist's face and all of the hands are beautifully preserved.
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.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE PRINTED IN THE CATALOGUE.
Mr. and Mrs. Potter Palmer, Chicago, Illinois, by 1896
Potter Palmer, Jr., Chicago, Illinois (by descent)
Sold: Christie's, New York, May 23, 1979, lot 100
The Jordan-Volpe Gallery, New York (acquired at the above sale)
Acquired by the present owner from the above, 1981
New York, Union League Club, March 1892
New York, Society of American Artists, Fourteenth Exhibition of the Society of American Artists at the Fifth Avenue Art Galleries, May 1892, no. 29
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Annual Exhibition, May-June 1896, no. 40
Paris, France, Exposition Internationale Universelle, 1900, no. 7, p. 53 (as The Artist)
New York, Grand Central Art Galleries, Retrospective Exhibitions of Paintings by George de Forest Brush, N.A., January 1930, no. 16, p. 3, illustrated p. 9
New York, American Academy of Arts and Letters, Exhibition of Paintings and Drawings by George de Forest Brush, November-May 1934, no. 29, p. 17
New York, Vance Jordan Fine Art, Selections from the Libby and Bill Clark Collection, October-December 2001, pp. 36-37, illustrated pl. 2, p. 14
The New York Times, March 6, 1892, n.p.
"The Society of American Artists," The Art Amateur, vol. 27, no. 1, June 1892, p. 3
Elliott Daingerfield, “George De Forest Brush,“ Art in America, vol. 18, 1930, p. 218
Nancy Bowditch, George de Forest Brush, Recollections of a Joyous Painter, Peterborough, New Hampshire, 1970, pp. 37-38, illustrated fig. 17
Joan B. Morgan, George de Forest Brush: Master of the American Renaissance, New York, 1985, p. 23, illustrated fig. 19, p. 23
Barbara Dayer Gallati, Children of the Gilded Era: Portraits by Sargent, Renoir, Cassatt, London, 2004, pp. 19-20, illustrated p. 20
Nancy K. Anderson, George de Forest Brush: The Indian Paintings, Washington, D.C., 2008, p. 207
The Portrait, painted in 1892, represents a pivotal shift in George de Forest Brush’s career away from Native American subject matter to the 'family groups' which ultimately afforded him continued success and widespread recognition. In his Parisian home on the rue Boissonade, where he lived from 1890-92, Brush created The Portrait, the first of his 'family groups,' and the only one to feature a self-portrait of the artist: "The autobiographical scene depicts the artist in the foreground sketching his wife Mittie, toddler son Gerome, baby Nancy, and, demurely observant in the background, their nursemaid...Gerome is celebrated here as the focal point of the picture. With his finely finished features, long golden locks, and elaborate collar and vest, he commands both the artist's attention and that of his fellow sitters. His coy, yet direct stare engages the viewer as well. Brush based his design on a dramatic diagonal from lower left to upper right, a Baroque arrangement he utilized throughout his career" (Andrea Dale Smith, Selections from the Libby and Bill Clark Collection, New York, 2001, p. 36).
The present work, and the larger stylistic change that it represented, was well-received by critics when it debuted at the Society of American Artists in 1892: "We count it as a most hopeful sign that even men who have conquered legitimate success in certain kinds of works, and who might be expected in consequence to go on painting the same sort of pictures, have, on the contrary, sought to vary their technique, or have attempted new genres...[For instance,] nothing could well be more distinct from [Brush's] former manner than the melting outlines and low, harmonious tones of this excellent little picture...We own that The Portrait was to us an agreeable surprise" ("The Society of American Artists," The Art Amateur, vol. 27, no. 1, June 1892, p. 3). Brush later exhibited The Portrait at the 1900 Exposition Internationale Universelle in Paris where he won the Gold Medal.
Although scholars have debated the motivations behind Brush’s withdrawal from Native American subject matter around 1890, his daughter Nancy Bowditch believed that “he now discovered in his own wife and his small children a new and rich source of inspiration. Turning in the 1890s to paintings of his own family…he found depth and maturity as an artist and produced some of his finest work” (George de Forest Brush: Recollections of a Joyous Painter, Peterborough, New Hampshire, 1970, p. 38).