Category Archives: Art At Auction

Art at Auction: John Sloan and Bristol Bricks, 1941

A John Sloan painting recently went through auction at William Bunch Auctions.  John Sloan (1871-1951) was a well-known artist and a founder of the Ashcan School of artists.

https://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/55995867_american-school-20th-c-ob-tol-bricks.

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The painting is oil on board and shows an overcast urban landscape and river view with piles of bricks and rubble in the left foreground.  On the reverse it is entitled [Tol Bricks / N.Y.C.”]

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An internet search for “Tol Bricks” didn’t come up with a match but “Bristol Bricks”  and “New York City” did.

In 1941, empty cargo ships returning to the Port of New York from the United Kingdom carried bomb debris from destroyed buildings in Bristol, England as ballast.  The bricks and concrete were used as landfill to construct East River Drive between 23rd and 34th streets.

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And what became Waterside Plaza (photograph from the 1970s):

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The newspaper photograph and the photo from Waterside Plaza show the Queensboro Bridge and large smoke stacks in the background.

A view that is the same as the painting’s:

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Detail:

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A plaque was laid in 1942 to commemorate the naming of part of the area:

BRISTOL BASIN

BENEATH THIS EAST RIVER
DRIVE OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK
LIE STONES, BRICKS AND RUBBLE
FROM THE BOMBED CITY OF BRISTOL
IN ENGLAND… BROUGHT HERE IN
BALLAST FROM OVERSEAS, THESE
FRAGMENTS THAT WERE ONCE HOMES
SHALL TESTIFY WHILE MEN LOVE
FREEDOM TO THE RESOLUTION AND
FORTITUDE OF THE PEOPLE OF BRITAIN.
THE SAW THEIR HOME STRUCK DOWN
WITHOUT WARNING…. IT WAS NOT
THEIR WALLS BUT THEIR VALOR
THAT KEPT THEM FREE ……

And broad-based under all
Is planted England’s oaken-hearted mood,
As rich in fortitude
As e’er went worldward from the island-wall.

ERECTED BY THE
ENGLISH-SPEAKING UNION OF THE UNITED STATES
** 1942 **

https://read-the-plaque.appspot.com/plaque/bristol-basin

In 1974, Cary Grant, who was from Bristol, rededicated the plaque:

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https://read-the-plaque.appspot.com/plaque/bristol-basin

Art at Auction: Sir Gordon Drummond, G.C.B. by Agricola

Nye & Co. of Bloomfield, NJ, recently had an auction that included this unsigned painting, Lot 39,

http://www.invaluable.com/auction-lot/oil-on-canvas-general-gordon-drummond-DC947D39D2

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The plate below the painting is hard to read but it says,”General Sir Gordon Drummond, G.C.B. D. 1854 / Robert McInnes, British / 1801-1886″

There is a short biography of General Drummond in “A Military History of Perthshire / 1660-1902” edited by the Marchioness of Tullibardine, pp. 486-492,

https://books.google.com/books?id=fyE7AQAAMAAJ&pg=PR22&dq=general+gordon+drummond+portrait+agricola&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwinwYzWzPTTAhVqjFQKHQPmD44Q6AEIJzAA#v=onepage&q=general%20gordon%20drummond%20portrait%20agricola&f=false

After page 486 is a reproduction of this painting:

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But the painting is listed as not by Robert McInnes but by Filippe (Filippo) Agricola, 1776-1857,[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Filippo_Agricola].  Agricola worked mainly in Rome and usually painted religious pictures.  After General Drummond retired from the British army in 1816, he would often visit Italy so it must have been on one of these trips that he met the artist.

General Drummond’s daughter married the 2nd earl of Effingham in whose family it descended.  It is possible, though, that McInnes made this copy of the Agricola painting and the original is still in the Effingham family.  The book reproduction of the Agricola painting is not very good so as to make a close comparison difficult.

Art at Auction: “Mlle. de Calonne” by Louis Gustave Ricard

On Saturday, April 22, at Stair Galleries in Hudson, New York, there was an auction which included some very fine works on paper and paintings, http://www.invaluable.com/catalog/3q0kztxdrm

While previewing the auction, I came across Lot 185:

“FRENCH SCHOOL: PORTRAIT OF A BOY Oil on panel, unsigned, with an indistinctly inscribed label on the reverse and a label from the Collection of Georges Lutz. 16 1/4 x 13 in., 18 14 3/4 in. (frame). From the Camilla and Earl McGrath Collection.”

http://www.invaluable.com/auction-lot/french-school-portrait-of-a-boy-2F9486780D

Below is the image without adjusting the exposure.

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Below is the painting after adjustment.

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In the edited version, it is clear that this is a painting of a girl.  Many times in 19th century paintings, especially with a lot of surface dirt, boys look like girls and vice versa. In this case, her collar looks like it could be a boy’s collar, and it’s hard to see her long hair.

On the reverse of the painting there are some possible clues:

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The easiest label to read was the “Collection Georges Lutz.” Searching in Hathi Trust (a very good resource) I found an article by Marcel Nicolle entitled, “La Collection Georges Lutz,” from Revue De L’Art Ancien Et Moderne. Paris: [Impr. Georges Petit], 1897-1938, tome 11, Janvier a Juin, 1902, pages: 331-343]: https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015035597767;view=1up;seq=457

The article details M. Lutz’s excellent art collection which contained works by Boilly, Gericault, Corot, and this painting, “Mlle. de Calonne” by Louis Gustave Ricard (1823-1873), illustrated after page 336.

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Here is the artist’s Wikipedia page,

Louis Gustave Ricard (1 September 1823 – 23 January 1873) was a French painter born in Marseille.

He studied first under Auber in his native town, and subsequently under Coignet in Paris. The formation of his masterly, distinguished style in portraiture was, however, due rather to ten years intelligent copying of the old masters at the Louvre and at the [Italian galleries, than to any school training. He was a master of technique, and his portraits about two hundred reveal an extraordinary insight into the character of his sitters. Nevertheless, for some time after his death his name was almost forgotten by the public, and it was only later that he has been conceded the position among the leading masters of the modern French school which is his due. A portrait of himself, and one of Alfred de Musset, were at the Luxembourg Gallery. Among his best-known works are the portrait of his mother, and those of the painters Fromentin, Heilbuth and Chaplin.

[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Gustave_Ricard]

One of Ricard’s most famous paintings is of the Vicomtesse de Calonne, nee Joulia Hogay, wife of the publicist Alphonse Bernard, Vicomte de Calonne.  Presumably, this is the mother of Mlle. de Calonne, but there is little information about either of them on the internet.  Originally at the Louvre, the painting is now at the Musee d’Orsay, http://www.musee-orsay.fr/fr/collections/catalogue-des-oeuvres/notice.html?no_cache=1&nnumid=21809&cHash=8da7dec93d

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(This image is from this website, http://fr.muzeo.com/reproduction-oeuvre/la-vicomtesse-de-calonne/ricard-gustave-dit-ricard-louis-gustave.)

Marcel Nicoll wrote an article about this and another portrait of the vicomtesse in the same magazine in 1907, starting on page 37, https://books.google.com/books?id=R8g_AQAAMAAJ&pg=PA40&lpg=PA40&dq=vicomtesse+de+calonne&source=bl&ots=sGD5p0nl8o&sig=zHvZHPCRxCT2jnzAEn0tG0tecFA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjG7Lz5vb3TAhUDbiYKHb1YCqM4FBDoAQgkMAA#v=onepage&q=vicomtesse%20de%20calonne&f=false.

Perhaps the painting of Mlle. de Calonne will be heading back to France.