Once owned by Henry Clay Frick, the Pittsburgh industrialist, in the 1890s Coming from the Garden was acquired through Knoedler by another Pittsburgh collector, Judge James Hay Reed, through whom the painting has descended to the present owners.
It is said that Coming from the Garden is the very first work of art acquired by Frick from Knoedler, the New York dealers who, perhaps more than any other, assisted Frick in building one of the great art collections assembled by any American. Like many other collectors, Frick exchanged works with his dealers; less than a month after he returned Coming from the Garden, Reed purchased it for his own collection. In two other documented instances, works from Frick's collection are also known to have passed to two other prominent Pittsburgh collectors: Lawrence Phipps, and Andrew Mellon. (J. Ingham, et al, Collecting in the Gilded Age, Art Patronage in Pittsburgh, 1890-1910, Pittsburgh, 1997, p. 103)
Coming from the Garden is a highly characteristic painting by Daniel Ridgway Knight. In its charming depiction of a French peasant girl out of doors, it conveys an ideal of rustic tranquility that is the hallmark of Knight's best-known work. As noted by Kathleen Pyne, discussing the context of Knight's popularity, "in comparison to American suburban and rural landscapes, which were profoundly affected by industrialization in the last half of the 19th century, the French countryside and its peasants remained mostly untouched by the ugliness of industrial development. Its pastoral quality thus appealed to the poetic sense of great numbers of young American painters then studying in France. Ridgway was among the most successful of those Americans who, in the wake of the French Realists Gustave Courbet and Jean-Francois Millet, adopted the theme of the noble peasant and his timeless relationship with nature." (The Quest for Unity, Detroit, Michigan 1983, p. 235)
This work will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné being brepared by Howard L. Rehs.
We are grateful to Howard L. Rehs for his help in cataloguing this work.