Rare oil painting by James McNeill Whistler with provenance will headline Woodshed's March 7th auction

  • FRANKLIN, Massachusetts
  • /
  • February 25, 2019

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Rare oil on board painting by James McNeill Whistler (American, 1834-1903), titled Peasant Woman, done during Whistler’s time spent in Venice, circa 1880 (est. $200,000-$300,000).
Woodshed Art Auctions

FRANKLIN, Mass. – A rare oil on board painting by James McNeill Whistler (American, 1834-1903), titled Peasant Woman and done during Whistler’s time spent in Venice, plus an original landscape work by Albert Bierstadt (American, 1830-1902), will be in Woodshed Art Auctions’ 157-lot fine art auction, live and online, slated for Thursday, March 7th, at 5:30 pm Eastern time.


The auction – officially titled Whistler to Warhol: Master Oil Paintings & Drawings – will be held online and live in the 500 Gallery, at 475 Franklin Village Drive in Franklin. People can register and bid now, at www.woodshedartauctions.com. Previews will be held at the 500 Gallery in Franklin starting Wednesday, February 27th. Phone and absentee bids will be taken.


The paintings by Whistler and Bieratadt are the sale’s undisputed headliners, but also featured will be a wide selection of paintings by, and attributed to, artists such as Andy Warhol, Edward Hopper, Alberto Giacometti, Jean-Michel Basquiat, the graffiti artist known as Banksy, Thomas Hart Benton, John Marin, Armando Morales, Hans Hoffman, Mark Rothko and Paul Gauguin.


“Discovering long-forgotten artworks by master artists holds an unusual fascination for us as art historians and connoisseurs,” said Brue Wood of Woodshed Art Auctions. “They have the power to transport our minds to the moment of their creation, and are a testament to the longevity of the best human creations. Being in their presence while they transition to new owners is a privilege.”


Whistler’s Peasant Woman is unsigned, but comes with impeccable provenance. The piece was gifted to a Mr. Ritter, an acquaintance of Whistler’s in Venice, by the artist in 1880. Ritter sold it to Robert Day Andrews around 1892 and Day then donated it to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. It was later deaccessioned by the museum and acquired by the current owners in 1994.


What makes the piece so attractive to collectors (aside from the fact that any original work by Whistler is bound to attract attention) is that it was painted in Venice, during a time when the vast majority of the artist’s work consisted of etchings and pastel and chalk drawings. This was by necessity, as Whistler was nearly destitute. An oil painting by him from the era is very rare.


After the publication of John Riskin’s acclaimed book, Stones of Venice, many notable artists – to include Whistler – flocked to the Italian city to capture the splendor of which Ruskin wrote. But Whistler eschewed the city’s Gothic architecture that his contemporaries captured on canvas in favor of the city’s poverty-stricken areas, which he referred to as “the Venice of Venetians.”

Original oil painting by Albert Bierstadt (American, 1830-1902), titled Twilight on Schroon Mountain, artist signed lower left, 20 ¾ inches by 26 ¾ inches framed (est. $20,000-$30,000).
Woodshed Art Auctions


Many of Whistler’s subjects were women at work – almost always placed within their familiar, local environment, engaged in mundane activities like doing the wash or stringing beads. He sought to depict the true aesthetic nature of the city (and in doing so he gained many pupils). Portrait of a Girl is a fine representation of this time. It’s estimated to bring $200,000-$300,000.


The oil on canvas landscape by Albert Bierstadt, titled Twilight on Schroon Mountain, is artist signed lower left. It measures 20 ¾ inches by 26 ¾ inches framed, and carries a pre-sale estimate of $20,000-$30,000. Bierstadt, who was trained in Europe but spent most of his rich career in the United States, was one of the premier American landscape painters of the Hudson River School.


Andy Warhol (American, 1928-1987) will make multiple appearances in the sale. Works attributed to the Pop Art icon will include three possible color studies for prints. They are:


  • Apple Macintosh Logo, a stylized study of the famous logo, circa 1985, acrylic on paper, signed lower right and verso, 17 ¼ inches by 17 inches framed (est. $30,000-$50,000).
  • Absolut Vodka, another stylized rendering of a logo, circa 1985, mixed media on paper, signed upper left and verso, 20 ¼ inches by 17 ¼ inches framed (est. $30,000-$50,000).
  • George Harrison, a vibrant portrait of the late Beatle, circa 1980, mixed media on paper, signed lower right and verso, 22 ¾ inches by 17 ¾ inches framed (est. $30,000-$35,000).


Stylized study of the famous Apple Macintosh Logo attributed to Andy Warhol (American, 1928-1987), circa 1985, acrylic on paper, artist signed lower right and verso (est. $30,000-$50,000).
Woodshed Art Auctions

An oil on canvas attributed to Armando Morales (1927-2011), perhaps Nicaragua’s most famous artist, titled Cabeza de Mujer (Head of Woman), signed and dated (“62”) bottom left, is expected to realize $40,000-$50,000. The 17 ½ inch by 25 ½ inch painting, in the frame, is stamped verso with Galeria Central del Arte Modern. Morales is best known for his still lifes and female nudes.


An oil on canvas abstract composition attributed to Hans Hofmann (German-American, 1880-1996), signed and dated (“64”) and measuring 25 ½ inches by 21 ¼ inches framed, is expected to change hands for $60,000-$80,000); and an oil on canvas attributed to Mark Rothko (American, 1903-1970), titled 1969 Color Field (Brown and Blue), signed and dated (“1969”) verso and measuring 27 ½ inches by 19 ½ inches in the frame, has a pre-sale estimate of $40,000-$60,000.


An ink and pencil portrait drawing on paper of a Tahitian woman attributed to Paul Gauguin (French, 1848-1903), unframed, titled Taaroa, 4 ¼ inches by 6 ½ inches, titled upper right and signed verso, circa 1891, should reach $25,000-$30,000. The drawing appears to be part of a set partially sold at Sothebys in 2013. Infra-red spectrometry confirms the paper is from the 1890s.


A pastel on paper attributed to John Marin (American, 1870-1953), titled View of Venice from Murano, 12 ½ inches by 15 ¾ inches in the frame, artist signed, is expected to command $9,000-$12,000. Marin was an integral member of Alfred Stieglitz’s circle. This piece is peculiar, as it is a pastel, whereas an estimated 2,500 out of nearly 3,000 artworks by the artist were watercolors.


Woodshed Art Auctions is a family-owned art gallery specializing in oil painting restoration and live and online art auctions, celebrating its 50th anniversary. The firm is always accepting quality artworks for future auctions. To inquire about consigning a single piece or an entire collection, you may call Bruce Wood at 508-533-6277; or, e-mail him at bruce@woodshedartauctions.com.


For more about Woodshed Art Auctions and the Whistler to Warhol: Master Oil Paintings & Drawings auction scheduled for Thursday, March 7th, visit www.woodshedartauctions.com.


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Bruce Wood
Woodshed Art Auctions
(508) 533-6277

Woodshed Art Auctions
1243 Pond Street
Franklin, Massachusetts
(508) 533-6277
About Woodshed Art Auctions

Woodshed Art Auctions conducts online-only fine art sales, usually featuring the most famous names in all of fine art. Most of the works in the sales are attributions.

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