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George Copeland Ault (1891-1948)
On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial int… Read more An American Place: The Collection of Barney A. Ebsworth
George Copeland Ault (1891-1948)

Fruit Bowl on Red Oilcloth

Details
George Copeland Ault (1891-1948)
Fruit Bowl on Red Oilcloth
signed and dated 'G.C. Ault '30.' (lower left)
oil on canvas
24 ¼ x 20 in. (61.6 x 50.8 cm.)
Painted in 1930.
Provenance
James Graham & Sons, Inc., New York, 1969.
Noah Goldowsky Gallery, New York.
Harry Spiro, New York.
Zabriskie Gallery, New York.
Acquired by the late owner from the above, 1977.
Literature
Archives of American Art, George Ault Papers, reel 1927, frames 297, 773; reel D247, frame 613.
“In the Galleries,” Arts Magazine, vol. 32, November 1957, p. 52.
Artnews, vol. 76, Summer 1977, p. 26, illustrated.
R. Stewart, “Charles Sheeler, William Carlos Williams, and Precisionism: A Redefinition,” Arts Magazine, vol. 58, no. 3, November 1983, pp. 108, 112, illustrated.
Exhibited
Montclair, New Jersey, Montclair Art Museum, Artists of New Jersey, 1931, no. 14 (as Fruit Bowl on Red Oil Cloth).
Albany, New York, Albany Institute of History and Art, Seventh Annual Exhibit: Artists of the Upper Hudson, 1942, no. 2 (as Fruit Bowl on Red Tablecloth).
Woodstock, New York, Woodstock Art Gallery, George Ault Memorial Exhibition, September 9-28, 1949, no. 17.
New York, Milch Galleries, George Ault: Memorial Exhibition, 1950.
New York, Zabriskie Gallery, George Ault 1891-1948, October 28-November 23, 1957, no. 4.
New York, Zabriskie Gallery, American Art: Fifty Years Ago, May 24-June 18, 1977.
St. Louis, Missouri, St. Louis Art Museum; Honolulu, Hawaii, Honolulu Academy of Arts; Boston, Massachusetts, Museum of Fine Arts, The Ebsworth Collection: American Modernism 1911-1947, November 20, 1987-June 5, 1988, pp. 12, 46-47, 197, no. 1, illustrated.
Memphis, Tennessee, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art; Omaha, Nebraska, Joslyn Art Museum; Trenton, New Jersey, New Jersey State Museum, George Ault, November 13, 1988-June 11, 1989, p. 53.
Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art; Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Twentieth-Century American Art: The Ebsworth Collection, March 5-November 12, 2000, pp. 40-42, 278, no. 1, illustrated.
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Lot Essay

Fruit Bowl on Red Oilcloth is a quintessential example of George Copeland Ault’s Precisionist oeuvre. A loosely affiliated group of artists who shared a common aesthetic, the Precisionists created crisp works sharply defined with geometric forms and flat planes. In addition to depicting the architecture of New York City, and the barns and buildings in Woodstock, New York, Ault occasionally painted exquisite still-life scenes with the same level of orderliness. In Fruit Bowl on Red Oilcloth, Ault rejects the superfluous in favor of line, form and color to depict an intimate composition in a smooth, Precisionist aesthetic.

While Ault worked in a representational manner, the renowned critic Clement Greenberg considered the artist’s restrained yet deeply emotive compositions as key forerunners to the Abstract Expressionist movement. Indeed, Greenberg cited the present work when praising the 1950 Ault retrospective at Milch Galleries, writing, “I must say that I was struck chiefly by the waterfall painting, by the 1930 still life of apples, pears and oranges with a blue bottle, and to a lesser extent by the early nudes… Surely, he painted more still lifes like the 1930 one [Fruit Bowl on Red Oilcloth]… All in all, I would say that this representation of thirty years of work is… as valid a record as could be found on how honest and talented American painters kept searching doggedly for a wide vein outside French painting that would permit them to express themselves with their own spontaneity” (C. Greenberg letter to L. Ault, February 19, 1950, Archives of American Art, George Ault Papers, reel D247, frame 613).

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