Bonhams' November 19 American Art auction will feature one of the last figural works by prominent early 20th century American artist George Bellows. Two Women, an allegorical work referencing a Renaissance masterpiece by Titian, is estimated at $1,000,000 – 1,500,000.
Bellows' early artistic career was hugely inspired by New York City's dynamic hustle and bustle. He studied under the avant-garde tutelage of Robert Henri where he learned to observe and portray everyday aspects modern American life - a deviation from popular academic painting and Impressionism. Bellows embraced capturing contemporary events before turning to historical and allegorical compositions.
Painted in 1924, a year before Bellows' sudden death, Two Women is an unorthodox homage to Titian's Sacred and Profane Love (ca. 1514). Titan's iconic canvas portrays a clothed woman sitting at a water fountain beside a nude Venus. Two Women's nude and clothed female subjects evoke this image, except for the fact that they are placed in the parlor of Bellows' own home in Woodstock, New York. The women—perhaps one pure and one worldly—look to their right, ignoring the viewer. Bellows includes a variety of compositional juxtapositions resulting in a successful, balanced composition in terms of color and form.
The painting has been widely exhibited at numerous galleries and prestigious museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Art Institute of Chicago, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Brooklyn Museum. The National GalleryFebruary 2014
The National Gallery in London has purchased George Bellows' 1912 painting "Men of the Docks" for $25.5 million.
The painting has resided for many years at the Maier Museum of Art at Randolph College in Virginia. The sale was part of a controversial decision by college leaders to deaccession certain works of art in order to shore up its finances.
Museum leaders around the country had condemned the college's decision to deaccession art for the purposes of funding other operations. The decision also riled students and some faculty at the college.
The National Gallery said Friday that money to purchase the painting came from a fund established by the late John Paul Getty Jr. -- son of J. Paul Getty -- as well as from anonymous source.
The Huntington Library April 29, 2014
George Bellows (1882–1925), Summer Fantasy, 1924, oil on canvas, 36 × 48 in. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.
The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens announced today it has purchased two major paintings by transformative 20th-century American artists: Lattice and Awning by Arthur Dove (1880–1946) and Summer Fantasy by George Bellows (1882–1925). Summer Fantasy is a late-career landscape that enhances The Huntington’s representation of Bellows’ work.
Summer Fantasy (1924) by George Bellows
George Bellows is perhaps most famous for his gritty depictions of early 20th-century New York urban life, including the iconic boxing picture A Stag at Sharkey's (represented in The Huntington’s collections by the celebrated lithograph of the subject). But he was equally adept at portraits (represented at The Huntington by a painting of his half sister, Laura) and landscapes. “In fact,” said Salatino, “Bellows is one of the greatest landscape painters in the history of American art.”
Summer Fantasy is a dream-like landscape made in the year before the artist’s premature death at the age of 42. It depicts a verdant park scene of ladies with parasols and long flowing dresses, riders on cantering horses, and a golden sun brilliantly reflected in the surface of an idealized Hudson River. Rendered in the artist’s characteristic late style, the painting is a field of riotous, highly keyed color. Its design, though constructed according to a rigorous formal system, is lively and rhythmic.
“On a deeper level,” Salatino said, “the work may be interpreted as an allegory of life. Its imagery subtly moves from birth to maturity to death, all within the confines of a pleasant day’s outing in the park. Nevertheless, Summer Fantasy is ravishingly beautiful and life enhancing, ironically a work of remarkable optimism, given that it's one of Bellows’ last paintings.”
The picture’s balanced, almost classical, compositional structure, eccentric coloring, free brushwork, and dramatic contrasts of light and shade make it a masterpiece of the artist's final years according to Salatino. A work looking simultaneously back to the great traditions of Old Master painting and forward to the modernism that would define 20th-century American art, Summer Fantasy is, said Salatino, “a summation of the artist's tragically truncated career pointing to new and fascinating directions never fully realized.”
Christie's Dec. 5, 2013
GEORGE WESLEY BELLOWS (1882-1925)
George Wesley Bellows’ Evening Swell (estimate:
$5,000,000-7,000,000) is a superb example of George Wesley Bellows’ large-scale
depictions of the rugged Maine coast and an important and evocative painting
that demonstrates the artist at the height of his abilities. The work
exemplifies the theme of struggle, which is prevalent throughout Bellows’ oeuvre,
whether in the boxing ring, on the city streets or, in this case, in savage
nature. Evening Swell was painted in 1911, after Bellows
accompanied fellow artists Robert Henri and Randall Davey to Monhegan,
Maine. His bold, vigorous brushwork, which often approaches pure
abstraction, creates a complex seascape, emphasizing the forceful movement of
the water against the heavily worked rocks. The drama is heightened by
the inclusion of the two fishermen in a boat, who are diminutive in the face of
the raw power of nature.
Price Realized $7,893,000
Estimate $5,000,000 - $7,000,000
Christie's 23 May 2013
George Wesley Bellows, Splinter Beach, crayon, ink and crayon wash over transfer lithograph, Executed in 1913 500,000-700,000 Sotheby's May 1, 2014