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A must for your art life…modernism

December 16, 2017

During the first five years of my art business in the 1980’s one of the most revealing insights was that the gallerist and the client are partners in search of the right painting, the right artist, the right style for their home.

This search involves not just the painting but the resource library of old catalogues, old photographs or letters and best exhibitions to see. Clients share their “finds” with me often and now I pass them onto you.

If you love an artist, find out all you can about them and collect all the documents and see related exhibits!

This weeks suggestions: The Armory show in 1913 caused such a cataclysmic shift in the art world paving the way for the Modernists. It is such a fascinating time period with so many great art personalities.

To Keep Art Alive: The Effort of Kenneth Hayes Miller, American Painter (1876 – 1952)
By Lincoln Rothschild
Published by Art Alliance Press
Abebooks $10.24

The Story of the Armory Show
By Milton W. Brown

Cathy @ 10:56 am

Tagged in: A MUST for your art life!

Trending Now – NY Art Student League

Trending Now: The art world is not unlike the fashion world – giant marketing efforts by auction houses lead the way to create demand for various types of art. It is always fun to look at what is trending in the auction, art fair and gallery markets.

What I think is strong and consistent trend is Art Student League Graduates

While Rhode Island School of Design remains one of the most prestigious art schools in the country, many 20th Century RISD graduates gravitated to the ever present art “mecca”, New York City. The New York Arts Student League has always attracted some of the most provocative and thoughtful artists of their time from American impressionist William Merritt Chase (1849 – 1916) to modern painter Georgia O’Keefe (1887 – 1986). Rhode Island artists who thrived in that world included Mabel Woodward (1877 – 1945), James Herbert (1873 – 1941) and Louise Marianetti (1916 – 2009). Check them out.

  1. Mabel Woodward (1877 – 1945) adopted the plein-air technique of her mentor William Merritt Chase. Italian Countryside, Watercolor 8” x 11”                                                            $2,800.


After a series of early accomplishments in her career, it was a predictable scenario that Mabel Woodward would rise to become the most prominent Rhode Island woman artist of the late 19th and early 20th century. She graduated from Rhode Island School of Design with highest honors and received the first prize scholarship ever offered for ability, industry and conduct. She then went on in 1898 to study under Kenyon Cox and Frank Deuveneck. Following tutelage at the Art Student’s League in New York, two pieces of her work were selected for the Paris exposition. It was in 1900 that she returned to Providence to teach at Rhode Island School of Design and her success as an artist continued.

Mabel Woodward received recognition as a painter of figure and landscape. Her work was classified in 1938 by Frank Sisson, art critic for the Providence Journal, as ” A kind of impressionism…..or a development of impressionism to a more descriptive painting.” Her painting illustrated very happy phases of nature and her special talent lay in capturing outdoor color and light. Of particular note was the way she captured the sky in beach and summer scenes.

Throughout her lifetime Mabel Woodward would charm the art community both locally and nationally.   She exhibited at the National Academy in New York, Chicago Art Institute, Boston Art Club, and The Rockport, Ogunquit and South County Art Associations. She was also a regular exhibitor at the Providence Art Club as well as an active member.

  1. James Herbert continued the figurative tradition of Kenneth Hayes Miller. Joe with Mandolin, Watercolor 10” x 8”, $1,200.


Born in New York City, Herbert lived in Manhattan and studied at Columbia University during his youth. He attended the Art Student’s League of New York from 1920-1923, and again from 1926-1929. While there he studied with eminent artists such as Frank Drummond and Kenneth Hayes Miller. He joined a “coterie of intelligent, socially interested and humanly alive artists” such as Reginald Marsh and Isabel Bishop. As Reginald Marsh was attracted to painting of the social theatrics of New York daily life, Herbert painted from a more personal and psychological perspective, capturing the “performances” of individuals. Dancers and theatrical figures were his subject matter.

  1. Louise Marianetti excelled at the egg tempera technique of William Palmer. Ballerina Back Stage, 1949, Tempera on Board 24 x 14”, $1,800.


Louise E. Marianetti, born in Providence, RI, was a talented painter known for her egg tempera, oils, pastels and drawings. After her professional art training graduating from RISD in 1936 and attending the Arts Student League until 1939, she enjoyed a long and productive career painting and exhibiting her work. The artist garnered critical reviews from the Providence Journal, New York Times and Fort Worth Star. She is listed in Who Was Who in American Art.

Marianetti is distinguished for her exacting technique and refinement of the egg tempera medium, a tribute to the early Renaissance artists. Her realistic approach transcends to a worldly realm that leaves viewers with the impression of a super real or magical mysticism. Leaving egg tempera behind in later artistic life, Marianetti showed her versatility and command of the pastel medium establishing a strong collector base and exhibiting frequently.


Cathy @ 10:55 am

Tagged in: Trending Now

Painting of the Week – George Whitaker


George William Whitaker (1840- 1916), The Hayride, Oil on Canvas 26” x 36”              $2,800.

This painting is a remarkable Barbizon inspired landscape by George Whitaker. A student of George Inness, Whitaker painted expressive landscapes with big skies. There is a strong contrast between dramatic skies painted with free and forceful brushwork. The workers are headed home on top of the Hay wagon after a day’s work. This painting is a tribute to the honor and dignity of the laborers of the land.


George William Whitaker, was best known as a tonalist landscape artist, as well as a painter of fruit still-life and seascapes. He was respectfully called the “Dean of the Rhode Island Artists” for his stewardship of the fine arts in that community.  He was also an educator, becoming the first instructor in oil painting at the Rhode Island School of Design. Born in Fall River, Massachusetts, Whitaker was orphaned by age 2, and raised by

his maternal grandparents in Providence, RI. Attending Providence public schools, his talent at drawing was noticed. By age 14 he spent his youthful years as part of a Utopian community near Red Bank, New Jersey, known as “North American Phalanx”. He was apprenticed to his uncle, an engraver, in New York.  His artistic career started later than most as he worked as an engraver in New York City until age 31.

During his time working for his uncle the engraver in New York City, Whitaker became interested in painting. He began studying with the painters of the Hudson River School, and was mentored by the renowned landscape artists George Inness and Alexander Wyant. In 1870 he accompanied Inness to Europe, and went to study with Hungarian painter László Paál at the Julian Academy in Paris. Whitaker was heavily influenced by the painters of the Fontainebleau forest region in France, later known as the “Barbizon School”. Whitaker was a devotee of the Barbizon School throughout his life. Rather than depict nature as a background, they elevated natural scenes to be the subject of the artwork, with an overall tone of colored atmosphere or mist. In later life, Whitaker was not a fan of the more modern art movements coming out of Europe. He never abandoned his tonalist style. Whitaker exhibited at the National Academy in 1867 and 1869 and the Providence and Boston Art Clubs throughout the 1880s.

George Whitaker’s excellence in art is equaled by his contributions to the development of the nascent Rhode Island art community.  He shared studio space with renowned Rhode Island artist Sydney Burleigh in Burleigh’s Fleur-de-lys studio building. He wrote articles for the A.E. Society, a club for professional men which he organized. He actively offered art critique for multiple providence and rhode Island publications. He was instrumental in recognizing the need for an organization to nurture and support professional artists within the state.  In 1880, the Providence Art Club was formally founded by Whitaker and his colleagues Edward Bannister and Charles Walter Stetson. The club provided a professional association with fellow artists as well as a public forum in which to present their work.  Whitaker was also a founder of the Providence Water Color Club. Whitaker also played a significant role in the 1877 founding of the Rhode Island School of Design, as was its first instructor of oil painting.

His paintings are in many significant Rhode Island collections including the RI School of Design Museum, the RI Historical Society, the Providence Art Club, Brown University and the Moses Brown School. His work is also in the Kresge Art Museum at Michigan State University.

Cathy @ 10:55 am

Tagged in: Painting of the Week

3 ways to look at…figure

3 Ways to look at… The beauty of art is how artists approach the canvas from their individual thoughtful perspective. The result is great art from different perspectives and a range of styles.

Here are three artists, three perspectives of the same topic.

Jane Hart wrote a great synopsis of the evolution of figurative art in Art Business News in 2009. It really sets the groundwork for the 3 artists selected for this weeks’ blog entry.

“Figurative art has evolved through centuries of rich tradition and experimentation. From ancient stick-figure drawings to the Realist works of the early masters, the human form has captured artists’ attention for thousands of years. Today, the intrigue of figurative works continues, and artists are free to unleash their imaginations, putting a contemporary twist on the human form.

“The human figure holds an irresistible attraction for most people; it has from the beginning of time and always will,” says Tim Collins, director of Titus Fine Art, “It is the subject of some of the most powerful and memorable paintings, such as Manet’s ‘Olympia’ and Picasso’s ‘Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.'”

  1. Portrait of Amasa M Eaton and Charles F. Eaton, James Sullivan Lincoln (1811 – 1888), 1852, oil on canvas 54” x 48”  $9,500.

Amasa and Charles Eaton, children of the Providence lawyer Levi C. Eaton and Sarah Brown Mason shows two boys who would grow to become successful men. Amasa, the older of the two, would study law at Brown and Harvard Universities, going onto a life of serving his state and his country as a soldier in the Civil War, and then as a member of the Rhode Island House of Representatives. Charles, the younger boy, would travel to Paris to train as an artist. After returning to the United States Charles would participate in the Arts and Crafts movement and he would instill a live of art into his daughter, Elizabeth Eaton Burton. The portrait shows the then eleven year old Amasa to look much older than his ten year old brother. Amasa wears his hair short and has his socks and shoes on. His brother Charles has longer hair and is shown barefoot, with his shoes discarded behind him, giving him a younger and more playful look.

James Sullivan Lincoln, who was a prominent figure in the Providence Art world painted this portrait in 1852. Landing a commission from the Brown Family spoke to the status that Lincoln commanded in Providence at the time. Bringing his expertise in oil painting to bear in the creation of this portrait, with the use of shadows on Charles’s face displaying an incredible, almost photographic level of realism. Lincoln would continue to paint portraits of the notable people of Providence, and would also incorporate photography into his workshop.

Biography James Sullivan Lincoln was the leading portrait painter in Providence during the 19th century. During his long career he chronicled the lives and time of Providence dreamers, thinkers, educators, families and politicians. Over 4,000 images were generated including oil portraiture and photography. The painted and photographed likenesses created by this master portraitist convey the history of an American region during a critical period of change and growth. A review of Lincoln’s images provides visual representation of well-known Rhode Island names, like Samuel Slater, Betsey Baker and Ambrose Burnside. This prolific painter dutifully recorded in his log book, owned by the Rhode Island Historical Society, most of his sitters. The log book begins at 1837 and is a treasure trove of information about the patrons and business of his career, as Lincoln recorded prices paid for likenesses after 1863. Lincoln’s work was typical of the style of the day, highly delineated likenesses with a limited pallette. His early training had been in engraving and he did spend some time under the tutelage of C. Hinckley. Most characteristic of Lincoln’s work is the methodical and exacting brushstrokes he used. An exhibit of his works is currently on view at the Rhode Island Historical Society’s Aldrich House at 110 Benevolent Street. A catalogue accompanies this exhibition.

     2. Odalisque, James Drummond Herbert (1873 – 1941), Watercolor 6” x 11”, $1,200.

Sorting through the endless number of sketches, drawings and watercolors of James Herbert it is clear that he was determined to master the figure study. Herbert spent hours upon hours sketching models and systematically studying the human form. This foundation was instrumental for his costumed dance paintings where the anatomical movements of ballerinas across the stage are carefully orchestrated and evocative.

Biography Born in New York City, Herbert lived in Manhattan and studied at Columbia University during his youth. He attended the Art Student’s League of New York from 1920-1923, and again from 1926-1929. While there he studied with eminent artists such as Frank Drummond and Kenneth Hayes Miller. He joined a “coterie of intelligent, socially interested and humanly alive artists” such as Reginald Marsh and Isabel Bishop. As Reginald Marsh was attracted to painting of the social theatrics of New York daily life, Herbert painted from a more personal and psychological perspective, capturing the “performances” of individuals. Dancers and theatrical figures were his subject matter.

  1. After the Bath, 1932, Eliza Gardiner (1871 – 1955), Woodcut 9.6” x 12”, $850.

Eliza Gardiner is among the most significant artists to emerge from Rhode Island. This native Rhode Islander’s fame is a result of her pioneer work in block printing. She was one of the first American artists to achieve national recognition in the medium of color block printing. It was not only her technical ability which won such acclaim, but her special interest in studies of children at play or people on holiday. In her work she was able to communicate a simple, direct statement with a serenity of feeling. In a 1929 Providence Journal review of her Vose Gallery Show the critic commented, ” I had never realized how much the feeling of childhood, tenderness, contentment or sadness could be revealed in flat spaces of color, until I saw Eliza Gardiner’s wood-block prints.”

Eliza Gardiner was a graduate of Rhode Island School of Design and taught there for 30 years. The special affection and tenderness expressed in her wood block prints reveal the very nature of Miss Gardiner. She was very popular among students and her studio at Pawtuxet Cove was a mecca for students during her lifetime.

While Eliza achieved recognition as a block-print artist, she was also a good water colorist. Her landscapes, still lifes and portrait sketches demonstrate integrity, however these never achieved the attention accorded her wood-block prints.

The wood block prints of Eliza Gardiner are represented in museum collections both in the United States and abroad. She exhibited these block prints at the American Wood Block shows in Chicago, New York and the Philadelphia Academy. She was represented in the International Print Show at Utizza Gallery in Florence, at the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, 1928, the International Society of Print Makers in California, The Springfield Public Library, Detroit Institute of Art, The Philadelphia Print Club and the Rhode Island School of Design. She was a member of the Providence Art Club, The Providence Water Color Club and The California Print Maker’s Society. She also exhibited in Paris LOC in 1944, the Art Institute at Chicago and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts

Cathy @ 10:55 am

Tagged in: 3 ways to look at...

Reboot your Eye

Reboot your eye for art…We live in a culture of mass production and “sameness” yet we are all unique individuals with different tastes. So for the art collector we must be careful to challenge our eye – think about different approaches.

What is Modernism and how did it transform the American Art Scene? Well, there are books written on the introduction of European moderns to American painters and audiences in the 1913 Armory show and from that time forward the art world was in flux, realist academic painting challenged with the new urban realism of America and the new perspectives of European artists.It is interesting to look at artists such as James Herbert and see how he straddled this fluid art world.

The “Flag Dance” series clearly places James Herbert in the 20th century tradition of figurative American painting. Herbert throughout his youth was surrounded by New York’s throbbing urban reality with its dense and diversified populace. As a student of Kenneth Hayes Miller and a classmate of Reginald Marsh at the New York Arts Student League, Herbert honed his skill for figurative drawing and evidenced a fascination with stage “performers” rather than the local neighbors that attracted his artist colleagues. New York City showgirls and theatrical performers assimilate into his imagery of French inspired Napoleonic and court dancers. Courtesy Mary Tinti , PhD

James D. Herbert, Flag Dance #1, Oil on canvas 16” x 20” , $4,000.

Cathy @ 10:54 am

Tagged in: Reboot your eye for art

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