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Charles Sheeler (1883-1965)
Charles Sheeler (1883-1965)
Charles Sheeler (1883-1965)
Charles Sheeler (1883-1965)
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Property from the Collection of Diana Metcalf Stainow

Conference #1

Conference #1
signed and dated 'Sheeler 1953' (lower right)
tempera and pencil on paperboard
image, 3 7⁄8 x 5 in. (9.8 x 12.7 cm.);
overall, 7 1⁄4 x 8 in. (18.4 x 20.3 cm.)
Executed in 1953.
The Downtown Gallery, New York.
Elizabeth Paine Card.
By descent to the late owner, by 1963.
L.N. Dochterman, "The Stylistic Development of the Work of Charles Sheeler," vol. 2, Ph.D. dissertation, University of Iowa, 1963, p. 515 (as Conference No. 1, Second Version).
M.C. Conrads, The Collections of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art: American Paintings to 1945, vol. 1, p. 490; vol. 2, p. 219, Kansas City, Missouri, 2007, p. 490.

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Tylee Abbott
Tylee Abbott Vice President, Head of American Art

Lot Essay

The present work is a preparatory sketch for Charles Sheeler's oil Conference No. 1 (1954, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri). "Conference No. 1 may have been based on photographs he took in Connecticut or north-central Massachusetts, areas Sheeler explored in the late fall of 1953 with his friend and benefactor William H. Lane. The New England barn complex in the Nelson-Atkins painting also appears in several other works, including Conversation Piece (1952; Reynolda House, Museum of American Art, Winston-Salem, N.C.)." (M.C. Conrads, The Collections of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art: American Paintings to 1945, vol. 1, Kansas City, Missouri, 2007, p. 490)

Sheeler's tempera studies, like the present work, have been praised as "the freshest and most spontaneous of his late work...In their crispness and delicacy, the temperas emerge as miniature masterpieces of graphic design." (C. Troyen, E. Hirshler, Charles Sheeler: Paintings and Drawings, Boston, Massachusetts, 1987, p. 214) They also provide an intriguing look into the artist's creative process. A photographer as well as a painter, Sheeler experimented with making composite photographs that would become the basis of his painting designs. He would next transfer an idea from the photocomposite to a pencil sketch, which he then attached to the back of a small piece of glass or Plexiglas. He then painted the front of the plexi sheet with tempera to develop the color relationships in the composition. As the tempera sat on top of the glass, it could be scraped off and reapplied. This method allowed Sheeler to experiment until he had achieved what he considered a resolved composition. Once satisfied, Sheeler would transfer the outlines and colors to a final canvas.

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