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Robert Frederick Blum (1857-1903)
Robert Frederick Blum (1857-1903)

Woman in a Gondola with San Giorgio Maggiore in the Background (In the Gondola)

Details
Robert Frederick Blum (1857-1903) Woman in a Gondola with San Giorgio Maggiore in the Background (In the Gondola) oil on canvas 14 x 21½ in. (35.6 x 54.6 cm.) Painted circa 1887.
Provenance
Edwin Lefevre.
By descent, 1979.
Private collection, Massachusetts.
Sale: Skinner Galleries, Boston, Massachusetts, 1979.
Acquired by the present owner from the above.
Literature
B. Weber, Robert Frederick Blum (1857-1903) and His Milieu, vol. I, Ph.D. dissertation, Graduate School of the City University of New York, 1985, p. 323, no. 225.
Coe Kerr Gallery, Americans in Venice, 1879-1913, exhibition catalogue, New York, 1983, p. 46, no. 28, illustrated.
Berry-Hill Galleries, Inc., American Paintings IV, New York, 1986, p. 73, illustrated.
Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Instituto di Storia dell'Arte, Venezia da Stato a Mito, exhibition catalogue, Venice, Italy, 1997, p. 279, no. 108, illustrated.
W. Gerdts, "The International Milieu," Sargent's Venice, New Haven, Connecticut, 2006, pp. 174-75, 177, illustrated.
Exhibited
Lexington, Kentucky, University of Kentucky Art Museum, Beginnings: A University Art Museum Collects, November 18-December 16, 1979.
Williamstown, Massachusetts, Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, A Scene of Light and Glory: Approaches to Venice, March 20-April 25, 1982, no. 60.
Coe Kerr Gallery, New York, and elsewhere, Americans in Venice 1879-1913, October 19-December 18, 1983, no. 28.
Venice, Italy, Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Instituto di Storia dell'Arte, Venezia da Stato a Mito, August 30-November 30, 1997.

Lot Essay

Dr. William H. Gerdts writes of the present work, "Probably the ultimate pictorial and literary trope for Venice in the nineteenth century, even more so with the arrival of large steamships, was the image of the gondola, often carrying passengers, artists and others...Robert Blum was not immune to the seductiveness of the gondola image. As early as his first trip to Venice in 1880 he had produced an etching of Gondolas and Venetian Palace, and in 1885 he made several watercolors of gondolas...Blum's most unusual gondola scene is his Woman in a Gondola of circa 1887 which presents a young woman in a trance-like state cocooned in the shell of her vessel, while the vigorous but diminutive gondolier propels the vessel into the open lagoon. The figure here appears rapturously uninvolved in her watery journey, almost erotically embraced by her gondola enclosure. With the forward half of the gondola dramatically foreshortened and cropped, she appears positioned between the artist/viewer and the gondolier. Bruce Weber has noted a similarity between Blum's image and one by Italian painter Giuseppe De Nittis (1846-1884) that was published in early 1881, about the same time that Sargent painted his watercolor Woman in a Gondola." ("The International Milieu," Sargent's Venice, exhibition catalogue, New Haven, Connecticut, 2006, p. 174)

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