John Sloan (1871-1951)
On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial int… Read more Property from the Samuel B. and Marion W. Lawrence Collection
John Sloan (1871-1951)

Sally and Paul, Reds and Greens

John Sloan (1871-1951)
Sally and Paul, Reds and Greens
signed 'John Sloan-' (lower right)
oil on canvas
20 x 24 in. (50.8 x 61 cm.)
Painted in 1917.
Mrs. Charles Cohn.
Private collection.
Christie's, New York, 10 March 1989, lot 294.
Spanierman Gallery, LLC, New York.
Acquired by the present owner from the above.
G. Holcomb, III, A Check List for John Sloan's Paintings, Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, 1970, p. 27, no. 297.
G. Holcomb, III, John Sloan, The Gloucester Years, Springfield, Massachusetts, 1980, n.p.
R. Elzea, John Sloan's Oil Paintings: A Catalogue Raisonné, part one, Newark, Delaware, 1991, p. 211, no. 527.
V.A. Leeds, The Independents: The Ashcan School & Their Circle From Florida Collections, exhibition catalogue, Winter Park, Florida, 1996, p. 37, no. 9, illustrated.
J. Hardin and V.A. Leeds, In the American Spirit: Realism and Impressionism from the Lawrence Collection, exhibition catalogue, St. Petersburg, Florida, 1999, pp. 19, 21, 74, 84, no. 42, illustrated (as Sally and Paul).
(Possibly) New York, Art Students League, December 1920.
New York, Kraushaar Galleries, John Sloan: Paintings and Drawings, January 11-February 5, 1966, no. 20.
Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, Annie Halenbake Ross Library, John Sloan 1871-1951, May 21-October 30, 1966.
Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, Lock Haven State College, The Sloan Exhibit, 1967.
Winter Park, Florida, Rollins College, Cornell Fine Arts Museum, The Independents: The Ashcan School & Their Circle From Florida Collections, March 9-May 5, 1996, no. 9.
St. Petersburg, Florida, Museum of Fine Arts, In the American Spirit: Realism and Impressionism from the Lawrence Collection, March 21-June 13, 1999, no. 42 (as Sally and Paul).
Special notice

On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial interest in the outcome of the sale of certain lots consigned for sale. This will usually be where it has guaranteed to the Seller that whatever the outcome of the auction, the Seller will receive a minimum sale price for the work. This is known as a minimum price guarantee. This is such a lot.

Lot Essay

Perhaps best known for his depictions of street life in New York City, John Sloan also produced a sizeable body of art inspired by the landscape, architecture and people of Gloucester, Massachusetts. The artist was drawn to the coastal town each summer between 1914 and 1918 and found the rich landscape and relaxed environment to be a perfect setting in which to work. Painted in the summer of 1917, Sally and Paul, Reds and Greens typifies the artist's work of this period in its vibrant use of color, its strong architectural elements and its playful subject matter.

After nearly a decade of painting daily life in New York, Sloan viewed the seminal Armory Show of 1913 and was influenced by the work of the European artists who participated in the show. Sloan stated: "I realize [the European artists] had a 'habit of working.' My way had been, since I had so little time to work for myself, to wait until I had an idea for a picture. Of course I painted some portraits of friends and did some small landscapes when I had a week or two off in the summer, but at the age of forty I realized that I needed some new way to keep at work. I saw that the European artists kept themselves going with any kind of subject, landscape or portrait or still life (in any style). This method produces more work, more 'studies'; but it also leads to the discovery of new motivation. I made up my mind to save enough money to take a few months off to paint landscapes in Gloucester." (as quoted in The John Sloan Exhibit, exhibition catalogue, Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, 1970, p. 5) In Gloucester, Sloan was relieved of his duties as an illustrator and art teacher and concentrated full time on painting.

Sloan's Gloucester paintings were more spontaneous than his New York works. Less concerned with narrative or incident, they were more focused on the dynamics of color and the solidity of form. Sloan and his good friend and mentor, Robert Henri, studied the then widely discussed color theories of Hardesty Maratta, whose system of color harmonies led Sloan to brighten his palette. In Sally and Paul, Reds and Greens, Sloan uses several of Maratta's techniques, including the use of primary colors, to carry the eye throughout his composition. Sloan's exposure to the European artists, Vincent Van Gogh in particular, at the Armory Show also had a profound effect on the artist's choice of palette and composition. David Scott writes: "The expressive power of Van Gogh has deeply impressed him when he saw the Dutchman's pictures at the Armory Show, and Sloan emulated his color intensity, impetuous rhythm, and graphic bite. Behind the apparently spontaneous paintings lay careful preliminary planning and individually selected set palettes. On this foundation he constructed pictures that, at best, were powerful and immediate transcriptions of the Gloucester scene, a new achievement for him in pictorial expressiveness." (John Sloan: Paintings Prints Drawings, New York, 1975, p. 116)

Sally and Paul, Reds and Greens is a work about people and their spaces. Here, Sloan depicts his next door neighbor, Sally Stanton, lying playfully on a mattress as Paul, a neighborhood cat, crawls across the grass. An older woman, possibly Sally's grandmother, stands at the top of a back landing staircase and gazes towards Sally and Paul, leading the viewer's eye towards the foreground on a diagonal. The roof and the stairs of the large red house are at steep angles and the porch on which Sally relaxes has been enlarged and brought forward in order to exaggerate the repetitive geometric forms of the building. In Sally and Paul, Reds and Greens, architectural elements are an important feature, as they are among nearly all of the forty-six canvases Sloan kept from 1917.

A master printmaker and draughtsman, the artist was skilled at producing prints depicting fleeting moments with humor and pathos, and he brings some of his natural storytelling to Sally and Paul, Reds and Greens in which he depicts a languid afternoon and the small interactions of a quiet day. Sloan's artistry however, also focuses on technical issues of form and composition. In a 1938 retrospective exhibition, for example, John Sloan wrote about his aesthetic which is likewise encapsulated in Sally and Paul, Reds and Greens: "My present credo which I believe might produce thousands of various minds, is briefly, first, the eye sees only colour; second, form, light and shade, are mental deductions based on experience. No scientific nor clever nor sensitive nor plodding record of the visual produces a work of real aesthetic import. Shape must therefore be conveyed by some means apart from, and augmented by, colour. I call the above my mental technique and I believe it to be in line with tradition and in accord with the most ultra-modern expositions." (Addison Gallery of American Art, John Sloan: Retrospective Exhibition, exhibition catalogue, Andover, Massachusetts, 1938, pp. 8-9) Sloan's deliberate treatment of color and form harmonize perfectly in Sally and Paul, Reds and Greens. The refreshing palette of primary colors and the abstracted, precisionist depiction of architectural forms epitomize the artist's body of work produced during his Gloucester summers.

More from Important American Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture

View All
View All