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Frank Weston Benson (1862-1951)
Frank Weston Benson (1862-1951)

Girl on the Headland

Frank Weston Benson (1862-1951)
Girl on the Headland
oil on canvas
16 x 20 in. (40.6 x 50.8 cm.)
Painted circa 1906.
The artist.
Eleanor Benson Lawson, daughter of the above.
Nancy Sutton Lawson Brown, daughter of the above.
By descent to the present owner.

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Lot Essay

A prominent member of the Boston School and founder of the group of painters called "The Ten," Frank Weston Benson is recognized as a leading figure in American Impressionism. Painted circa 1906, Girl on the Headland possesses all the traits of the artist's highly personal and celebrated style. A charming depiction of the artist's oldest daughter, the work depicts Eleanor basking in the sun's warm glow on Lookout Hill on the small island of North Haven in Maine, which was the family's summer retreat for several decades. Girl on the Headland exemplifies Benson's bold brushwork and mastery of light and atmosphere.

According to noted Benson scholar, Faith Andrews Bedford, the present work was "painted on the hilltop where he so often posed his daughters in their white dresses against the brilliance of an August blue sky, this canvas captures the sunlight and 'refreshing sea breezes,' that first drew Benson to the island. He has edited out distractions such as trees and clouds and reduced the picture to the elements that meant the most to him: his beloved daughter Eleanor and the wide sweep of sea and sky. Eleanor's figure is slightly braced against the stiff breeze that swirls the skirt of her summer dress and her red shawl, brought in case the afternoon cools. She clasps her hand against her strawberry blonde hair lest the wind loosen it from its soft chignon. The shawl adds a note of bright color to the painting anchoring Eleanor's figure as the center of attention." (unpublished letter)

We are grateful to Faith Andrews Bedford, author of the biography Frank W. Benson: American Impressionist, The Sporting Art of Frank Benson, and Impressionist Summers: Frank W. Benson's North Haven, for her assistance in cataloguing this lot.

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