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Roderic O'Conor (1860-1940)
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Roderic O'Conor (1860-1940)

Mixed Flowers in a Vase

Details
Roderic O'Conor (1860-1940)
Mixed Flowers in a Vase
stamped with studio stamp 'atelier/O'CONOR' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
14¼ x 12¼ in. (36.2 x 31.1 cm.)
Painted circa 1923-26.
Provenance
Studio of the artist.
Vente O'Conor, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 7 February 1956.
Literature
J. Benington, Roderic O'Conor, a biography with a catalogue of his work, Dublin, 1992, p. 221, no. 263.
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Lot Essay

At intervals throughout his career, O'Conor chose to impose on himself the discipline of painting still life objects in a more representational and understated style than was usually his wont. The present picture is a case in point. In subject matter it can be compared to O'Conor's painting of Irises dating from 1913 (Tate Britain, London). Whereas the latter work places the flower-heads in a continuum of light and space, in which they are picked out as freely brushed silhouettes, the present picture gives unambiguous centre stage to the arrangement of flowers.

Whilst allowing himself a range of painterly touches for the depiction of the flowers, O'Conor deliberately keeps the rest of the picture as straightforward as possible - comprising a neutral background, a plain vase and a sliver of perfectly horizontal tabletop. The end result is charmingly subtle and refined, apparent not only in the delicately balanced colours, but also in the centralised and flattened composition that all but eliminates distracting shadows and aligns the top of the vase with eye level (so that it is viewed as a straight line rather than an ellipse). The symmetrical arrangement recalls the flower-pieces of Odilon Redon, whose approach was more decorative, but who nonetheless had a prominent position in O'Conor's pantheon of great contemporary artists. The Irishman owned no fewer than 53 lithographs by Redon.

J.B.
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