A stunning selection of accessibly-priced depictions of the American coastline — offered in our American Art Online sale
The American Impressionist artist Reynolds Beal was the older brother of Gifford Beal (see below). In an inscription on the reverse of Echo Bay, above, Reynolds Beal referenced the Australian-American painter Richard Hayley Lever, whose work is also offered in this sale: ‘Haley Lever [sic] saw the oil painting I made from this sketch and decided this was the place he wanted to live — on his return from England — but could not find the place when he went to New Rochelle [New York] with his wife.’
Over the course of three generations, the New England state of Maine has played an important role in the lives of the Wyeth family and their artistic legacy. It was in Maine that Andrew Wyeth met Betsy James, whom he married in 1940, the year he created this drawing. The classic coasting schooner depicted here, Stephen Taber, was built in 1871 and still sails today from Rockland Harbor, Maine.
In February 1934, Edwin Dickinson was invited to participate in the first Depression-era programme for artists, the Public Works of Art Project, which offered him weekly pay and the opportunity to exhibit his paintings in Washington. According to the artist’s journal, Our Ford, High Head was painted some months later on 11 July, 1934 at High Head Ocean Beach on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The Ford automobile depicted had been purchased by Dickinson the month before. In 1939, Dickinson bought a house on Cape Cod in Wellfleet, which he lived in until his death in 1978.
Described as ‘the American Matisse’, Milton Avery was a major influence on abstract painters such as Mark Rothko. It was Rothko who delivered the eulogy at Avery’s memorial service in 1965, stating, ‘[He] is first a great poet. His is the poetry of sheer loveliness, of sheer beauty.’ From 1957 Avery spent four consecutive summers in Princetown, Massachusetts, where he began working on large canvases that captured the sandy landscape and pushed his imagery to the very brink of abstraction.
An untrained artist, Francis Silva set up his studio in New York in 1867 following a brief tour in the New York State Militia during the Civil War. Possessed by a certain wanderlust, Silva travelled up and down the coast in search of subject matter. In the 1870s he made frequent trips up the Hudson River, recording what he saw in a series of extensive sketches and painting them back in his studio. This oil painting of of Cape Elizabeth, Maine, is representative of Silva’s mature style, which has been compared with that of Winslow Homer.
Gifford Beal’s Lobstermen on the Shore is a powerful example from a body of work that the artist completed in the 1920s and 1930s on summer trips to Rockport, Massachusetts. As a trio of men carry their lobster cages down to the sea, the dark silhouette of a fourth figure can be seen at the dock. Set against a vivid, sun-dappled sea of complementary oranges and blues and a deep red sky, the figures in Lobstermen on the Shore are painted in a large-scale format that heightens the visual drama.
Pirates’ Chest belongs to a series of watercolours of pirate subjects that Andrew Wyeth created from his imagination following a trip to South Carolina with his father, the artist and illustrator N.C. Wyeth. The youngest of five children, Andrew Wyeth was tutored by his father. In 1963 he became the first artist to receive the Presidential Freedom Award, the country’s highest civilian award, and in 1970 he was the first living artist to have an exhibition at the White House.
Born in Pennsylvania, William Trost Richards was an American landscape artist who was associated with both the Hudson River School and the American Pre-Raphaelite movements. Richards eventually rejected the romanticized approach of the other Hudson River painters in favour of meticulous factual renderings of mountains and seascapes. His work appears in the collections of many significant American institutions, including the National Gallery and the Smithsonian, both in Washington, D.C.
Andrew Wyeth’s father, N.C. Wyeth, owned a house known as Eight Bells, in Port Clyde, Maine, and the young Andrew spent many summers there before purchasing his own residence nearby. Many of Andrew’s most celebrated works are the result of his time spent in the state, including Wind from the Sea (1947, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.), Christina’s World (1948, Museum of Modern Art, New York), and Sandspit (1953, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts). In After the Rain Wyeth depicts the Lowell and Cushman houses on Horse Point Road in Port Clyde, after the passing of a New England squall.
In his unique American Impressionist style, Edward Redfield’s Monhegan Fishing Boats exudes the peaceful, quiet warmth of a summer afternoon spent along Maine’s rugged shoreline. The artist colony on Monhegan Island, Maine, founded in the mid-1800s, was fully established by the turn of the 20th century, drawing artists such as Robert Henri, George Bellows and Edward Hopper to visit. As early as 1903, Redfield and his wife Elise began spending summers there, joining Henri and his wife for the season. Redfield was so taken with the beauty of Monhegan Island and its surroundings that he eventually bought a home in nearby Boothbay and spent almost every vacation in and around the area.