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Theodore Robinson (1852-1896)
Property from The Westervelt Company, formerly The Gulf States Paper Corporation
Theodore Robinson (1852-1896)

Sea

Details
Theodore Robinson (1852-1896)
Sea
signed and dated 'Th. Robinson '89' (lower right)
oil on panel
10½ x 13¾ in. (26.7 x 35 cm.)
Provenance
The artist.
Hamline Robinson, brother of the artist.
Mrs. C.F. Terhune, Kansas City, Missouri.
[With]Kennedy Galleries, Inc., New York.
[With]Berry-Hill Galleries, Inc., New York.
Acquired by the present owner from the above, 1983.
Literature
J.I.H. Baur, Theodore Robinson 1852-1896, exhibition catalogue, Brooklyn, New York, 1946, p. 75, no. 204.
Kennedy Galleries, Inc., Theodore Robinson, American Impressionist (1852-1896), exhibition catalogue, New York, 1966, p. 26, no. 27, illustrated.
J.I.H. Baur, et. al., Three Nineteenth Century American Painters: John Quidor, Eastman Johnson, Theodore Robinson, New York, 1969, p. 75, no. 204.
Exhibited
Brooklyn, New York, The Brooklyn Museum, Theodore Robinson 1852-1896, November 12, 1946-January 5, 1947.
New York, Kennedy Galleries, Inc., Theodore Robinson, American Impressionist (1852-1896), November 7-30, 1966, no. 27.
Washington D.C., Smithsonian Institution, National Gallery of Art, and elsewhere, American Impressionist Painting, August 1, 1973-April 29, 1974, no. 48 (as The Sea).
Jacksonville, Florida, Cummer Gallery of Art, American Favorites from the Warner Collection of Gulf States Paper Corporation and the David Warner Foundation, September 16-November 11, 1984.
Birmingham, Alabama, Birmingham Museum of Art, American Masterpieces from the Warner Collection, January 30-March 29, 1987.
South Bend, Indiana, South Bend Art Center, American Masterpieces from the Warner Collection, December 9, 1989-February 4, 1990.
Montgomery, Alabama, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Impressions of America: The Warner Collection of Gulf States Paper Corporation, June 18-July 28, 1991 (as Sea (River in Winter)).
Richmond, Virginia, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, American Dreams: Paintings and Decorative Arts from The Warner Collection, September 20, 1997-January 25, 1998.

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Lot Essay

Painted in 1889, Sea is exemplary of Theodore Robinson's abstracted depictions of Giverny, executed with dazzling color and vitality. Robinson's mastery of light, color and pattern makes Sea a masterpiece of his Impressionist landscapes.

Robinson first visited Giverny as early as 1885. After studying and painting in Paris and Grèz in the 1870s, he arrived in the town to call on Claude Monet, as suggested by their mutual friend, painter Ferdinand Deconchy. It was not until 1887 however, that the colony of American Impressionists was founded there. In 1895 Edward Breck, the brother of painter John Leslie Breck, recounted circumstances of the colony's beginnings, " In the early summer of that year Louis Ritter, of gentle memory, and his friend Willard Metcalf, visited their fellow-painter Coquand at the chateau of Fourge in Eure, the proprietor of which a lucky marriage had enabled him to become. Leaving Fourge, Ritter and Metcalf strolled along through the valley that grew more and more beautiful as it neared the Seine. At the little village of Giverny on the Epte, within an hour's walk from Vernon and the Seine, the transcendent loveliness of the country cast a spell over them, and they wrote to their friends in Paris that Paradise was found and only waiting to be enjoyed. The invitation was answered by Theodore Robinson, Theodore Wendell [sic], Blair Bruce and John Leslie Breck, who, with the present writer and his mother, formed the American colony that year, and are the 'simon pure' original 'Givernyites.' Hardly had the little company begun eagerly to transfer the lovely motifs of the neighborhood to their canvases when they discovered that they were not the only painters in Giverny, that none other than Moret [sic] himself had already been living there for several years past." ("Something More of Giverny," Boston Evening Transcript, March 9, 1895, p. 13 as quoted in W.H. Gerdts, Monet's Giverny: An Impressionist Colony, New York, 1993, pp. 26-27)

Of the artists in the colony, it was Robinson who had the closest bond to Monet, frequently visiting and dining with him. Not only did he have a close personal relationship with the French artist but his diaries and letters recorded the important impact of Monet on his art. The French master's influence is clearly evident in the broken, lively brushwork and the animated paint surface of Sea. The composition is simplified, with sweeping hues of blues, purples and pinks, organized into a horizontal, orderly pattern recalling Monet's palette and his abstracted artistic theories. Sea is manifested with clear, resplendent light--the hallmark of the greatest works of American Impressionism. So masterful is the painter's control of sunlight and color that the surface of the composition shimmers with brilliance. This sophisticated handling of paint combined with his exceptional use of light emphasizes Robinson's atmospheric effect.

Employing broad, dashing brushstrokes and a light palette, Robinson similarly undertook in Sea the techniques Monet utilized to depict the fleeting effects of light. Like Monet, Robinson preferred to paint out of doors, and the painterly and informal compositional quality of Sea suggests that it was executed en plein air, creating a masterful demonstration of the style of Impressionism practiced in the American art colony at Giverny.

This painting will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the artist's work being compiled by Ira Spanierman and Sona Johnston.

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