Julius LeBlanc Stewart (American, 1855-1919)
Julius LeBlanc Stewart (American, 1855-1919)
Julius LeBlanc Stewart (American, 1855-1919)
Julius LeBlanc Stewart (American, 1855-1919)
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Julius LeBlanc Stewart (American, 1855-1919)

Study for 'Full Speed'

Details
Julius LeBlanc Stewart (American, 1855-1919)
Study for 'Full Speed'
oil on canvas
32 x 23 5/8 in. (81.3 x 60 cm.)
Painted circa 1886.
Provenance
Anonymous sale; Sotheby's, New York, 31 May 1984, lot 156, as Full Speed.

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Lot Essay

Julius LeBlanc Stewart spent almost the entirety of his artistic career in Paris and was nicknamed the ‘Parisian from Philadelphia’. His father, the sugar millionaire William Hood Stewart, moved his family to Paris in 1865, and Stewart’s family wealth enabled him to live an extravagant life and to paint when and what he pleased. He exhibited regularly at the Paris Salon from 1878 into the early 20th century, and he helped to organize the ‘Americans in Paris’ section of the 1894 Salon.
The present work is a preliminary compositional study for Stewart’s Full Speed, which depicts an outing on the Seine among friends aboard the Hassan, a steam launch owned by the artist’s patron and fellow American ex-patriate, James Gordon Bennett, Jr. Seen at the very left edge of the finished painting depicted in an elegant white suit (fig. 1), Bennett was the millionaire newspaper tycoon who owned The New York Herald, one of the most popular dailies of the time. In 1877, Bennett made Paris his domicile and began to cover the social scene in a European edition of the publication, detailing the parties and travel of those in his social circle.
In this study, Stewart concentrates primarily on the figures of the two women. It is interesting to note that in the final composition he has changed the positions of the two models; the young woman at the helm in the pink costume has been replaced by the seated figure in the final composition. Although the position of the hands of the model at the helm is the same in the study and the final composition, the artist has changed the seated model from sitting with her hands demurely in her lap to taking off her gloves. This subtle change contributes to the narrative of the painting and makes the figure a more dynamic part of the composition. He has also removed the architectural elements from the shoreline in the final composition, which focuses the viewer’s attention more on the elegant figures in the boating party.
The final version of Full Speed achieved international success almost immediately. After its exhibition in the Paris Salon in 1866, it almost certainly traveled to the 1891 International Art Exhibition in Berlin where it was awarded a gold medal. An engraving of the work was published in Harpers Bazaar on May 7, 1887, where it was described as a ‘seductive and charming’ work and Stewart was mentioned as having ‘the profoundest interest in happy, well-dressed men and women outdoors in the sunshine, delineating them and their surroundings with exquisite and refined fancy’ (Harpers Bazaar, 7 May 1887, p. 332).

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