Irma Stern (1894-1966)
PROPERTY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF NEW ENGLAND IN PORTLAND AND BIDDEFORD, MAINE, TO BENEFIT THE CAMPUS ART COLLECTIONS These five works by Irma Stern to be offered in the Day and Evening auctions of Impressionist & Modern Art were originally in the collection of Rebecca Hourwich Reyher (1897-1987), an American writer from New York with Maine ties. Dorothy Healy, founder of the Maine Women Writers Collection, had many friends and contracts throughout New England. She established a relationship with the author and through that relationship learned of her desire to sell her entire collection, including the paintings. Westbrook College purchased the collection in the late 1970s and when Westbrook College merged with the University of New England in 1996, ownership of the works was passed forward to UNE. 'The university recognizes the important and lasting legacy of Dorothy Healy and Westbrook College, and we are grateful for the wonderful resources they brought to UNE', says President Danielle N. Ripich, PhD. 'Through the proceeds of these works, the UNE Art Gallery, the Maine Women Writers Collection, and the university will continue to enrich the education of our students and our connections to the community.' Proceeds from the sale will be used to strengthen UNE's acquisitions and conservation fund for its art and artifact collections, and enhance its ability to exhibit them.
Irma Stern (1894-1966)

Portrait of Rebecca Hourwich Reyher

Irma Stern (1894-1966)
Portrait of Rebecca Hourwich Reyher
signed and dated 'Irma Stern 1925' (lower left)
oil on canvas
36 x 26½ in. (91.5 x 67.3 cm.)
Painted in 1925
Rebecca Hourwich Reyher, Robinhood, Maine, a gift from the artist in 1925.
Westbrook College, Portland, Maine, by whom acquired from the above in 1978; ownership then passed to the University of New England with the merger of the College with the University in 1996.
Cape Town, Ashbey's Art Gallery, Exhibition of Modern Art by Miss Irma Stern, February 1925, no. 10 (titled 'Portrait').
Portland, Maine, Alexander Hall Gallery, Westbrook College, Sinon-Reyher African and Americana Collection, October - November 1978.
Portland, Maine, University of New England, 2009.
Sale room notice
Please note this lot should be starred in the catalogue.

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Annemijn van Grimbergen

Lot Essay

Irma Stern had been a friend of the Expressionist artist Max Pechstein during her years living in Germany and was a member of the avant-garde there. There was little understanding of her boldly modern work in South Africa on her return, but Rebecca Reyher, on a visit there, was immediately struck by it and brought a number of Stern's paintings back with her to New York.
Rebecca Reyher, the daughter of a Russian lawyer Isaac Hourwich and his second wife Elizabeth Joffe, was a writer and feminist campaigner. A veteran of the first national suffrage parade in Washington D.C. in 1913, her life would be devoted to the fight for women's rights. After studying at Columbia University and the University of Chicago, she worked for the National Woman's Party in New York and nationwide, married fellow writer Ferdinand Reyher in 1917 (divorcing in 1934 and remaining single for the rest of her life), and went on her first of many trips to Africa in 1924, commissioned to write articles on the country for Hearst's International Magazine.
The highlight of her researches on the local art scene would be her discovery of Irma Stern's work, which, in Rehyer's words captured 'all the colour, the wildness, the passion and the peace of your country'. The discovery of Stern's work, and her subsequent meeting with Stern and her household, led to her being invited to open Stern's second Cape Town exhibition in February 1925, and to a brief and intense friendship, which is marked by the present portrait.
Reyher, who had been away from Cape Town on her travels within South Africa from November 1924 until 12 February 1925, must have sat for the portrait between 13-16 February, prior to it's inclusion in the Ashbey's Art Gallery, Exhibition of Modern Art by Miss Irma stern which opened on 17 February 1925.
Please refer to the supplementary Irma Stern catalogue for additional information.

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