Indiana Art / September 2021 Estate Art & Antiques Auction
Ripley Auctions is proud to present Exceptional Estate Art in our Sept. 11th sale. The gallery is looking more like a museum as we get ready for this Premier Auction! We are looking around in amazement at the over 70 works from American Regionalist painters, of which approximately 50 pieces have ties to Indiana, i.e.; The Hoosier Group, Brown County, Richmond, and Hoosier Salon.
Several works come with a notable exhibition history:
Four paintings by Glenn Cooper Henshaw from the collection of Keith Clary of Indianapolis were all exhibited together as Curator’s Choice pieces at The Indiana State Museum in 2006 in a show entitled, “Highlighting Indiana Art, Focus on Henshaw”. All have museum catalog numbers verso. Two of the paintings measure approx. 40″x45″, and are the largest works we’ve seen. Surely you will agree that these can be considered among his master works.
Here are some fun facts: Did you know Henshaw is a descendent of Francis Scott Key? Did you also know that in 1966 only eighty-five of four hundred oils and pastels survived a fire in his Odd Fellows Building studio in Nashville?
The Wayman Adams portrait of Moy Kee,1912, also from the Clary collection, was exhibited at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, (IMA), in a 1971 exhibition titled, “150 Years of Indiana Painters”, with provenance inscribed verso as follows; “Presented to Mrs. Leonidas Smith by the artist.” This unique portrait depicts Moy Kee, an early Chinese resident of Indianapolis and owner of a restaurant and tea house at 506 E. Washington Street. He was known to locals as the Chinese mayor of Indianapolis in the early twentieth century. Did you know Indianapolis actually had a comparably sizable Chinese community at the time?
More fun facts: Did you know Adams painted some well-known group portraits as well as the solo portraits he is known for? Two notable pieces include; The Conspiracy, which shows Pennell, Hamilton and Charles Burns in intimate discussion on the steps of a Philadelphia building; as well as The Art Jury, depicting a group of four, Adams’ first teachers in Indiana. He also completed several regional series, one recording the people of Chinatown in San Francisco, and another series depicting the life of New Orleans.
Hoosier Group Highlights:
Although the T.C. Steele is unsigned, it comes with provenance from the artist’s heirs, and is reported to be one of the 108 works done over a two week period in Munich, Germany. Yep, you read correctly, 108 works of art in 2 weeks! Isn’t that amazing? This small plein air oil on board with view of train station and locomotives has a moody Impressionistic feel.
The J. Ottis Adams landscape is from a private historic Meridian Street collection. You may have noted the recent sale of the contents of this fabulous home with Castles & Attics. We think this painting is pretty special as it is a landscape in the Whitewater River Valley in Brookville, IN. It was painted in 1897, the year before Adams and T.C. Steele purchased the homestead they would name The Hermitage where Adams lived and had his studio. In the painting you can see a white structure to the right of the stone bridge over the water. Could it be? We would love to know!
William Forsyth is also represented in the sale with three works; an oil on board titled ‘Winona’ with authentication from the artist’s heirs, a watercolor landscape with the artist’s typical sketch technique, and a charcoal wash landscape with Poplars in the artist’s unmistakable hand done in 1884 during his time studying abroad in Europe.
Fun fact: Barton Hays was Forsyth’s first instructor. And guess what? We are also lucky enough to have a great example of his work in the sale. This nice-size landscape with beautiful gilt frame is a prime example of the early Indiana artist’s work, and is also from the Clary collection. A rare piece to come to auction indeed…
Other important Indiana works:
The Frederik Grue, also from the Meridian Street estate, is small but mighty! The warm orange glow of the persimmons will stop you in your tracks from across the room. What a fantastic statement piece from the beloved still-life master.
From another local Indianapolis collection comes the bulk of the Indiana paintings in the sale. Among the Clifton Wheelers, Carl Grafs, Hardricks, and Carianis, this husband and wife team had a special affinity for John Zwara and F.F. Brown. We have marveled at their discriminating taste when adding to their collection. It would be hard to find better examples from these two artists all in one place!
Among the 9 works by Zwara in this collection, there is an oil on canvas which is reminiscent of the paintings he did at Central State in the 1930s. Did you know that it was Alex Vonnegut who took it upon himself to advocate for Zwara’s health? He had met the artist after seeing his work for sale in the windows of the H. Lieber Company. He had been diagnosed as Schizophrenic. In the spring of 1938 Vonnegut had him admitted to the Indiana Central State Hospital where he was also able to paint in his own art studio. Sadly, Zwara checked himself out after six months. We believe the bridge painting was exhibited at the Indiana Medical History Museum in the 1990s. Exhibition materials are included with the painting. The lighting in this snow covered landscape with autumn leaves is stunning. Other gouache landscapes by Zwara depict views of the White River and California.
F.F. Brown’s signature Post-Impressionistic style is pinnacle in the 8 examples of his work offered here. He has been called “The Van Gogh of the Midwest”, and we agree!! A member of the Richmond School and a Hoosier Salon artist, he studied with William Forsyth and J. Ottis Adams. Can you see their influence?
I’m sure you’re wondering what my favorite piece is. Well I’ll tell you. (wink) It’s the Randolph Coates seascape from the Clary collection. You have to see this one in person to appreciate it. It’s so full of movement and little splashes of unexpected color, (pun intended). The square orientation and original gilt frame are charming as well. You just have to see this one in person to appreciate it. I put it in the middle of the stage because it just pulls everything together, don’t you think?
One more thing, Don’t discount the FRAMES!!!
Make sure to take note of the original carved and gilt framing on most of these pieces. Photos can’t capture the beauty added by these early 20th Century frames. Another reason to come and take a look!
Again, we urge you to come and see this collection while it’s all in one place. We promise you’ll be glad you did!! We can accommodate preview times by appointment or in the afternoon hours Wednesday through Friday, Sept.8-10. We would love to hear your questions and comments, and we hope to see you at the sale! The art sells at 11am Sept. 11th. It is a live auction.