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Ernest Fiene (American, 1894-1965)

Paintings

Biography:

Who was painter Ernest Fiene?

Ernest Fiene was an American landscape painter whose work in and around New York City helped cement him as one of the premier landscape and cityscape artists of his generation. He was the recipient of many prestigious awards throughout his life, most famously a Guggenheim Fellowship that funded his studies of mural painting in Italy. He was an early client of the Associated American Artists’ group, which led to his work documenting the production of the film version of Eugene O’Neill’s The Long Voyage Home (1940).

Fiene was an active member of the artistic community and spent much time in the latter years of his life teaching art. He taught at the Arts Students League, then later at the National Academy of Design. He also famously taught at the Famous Artists School in Westport Connecticut. He died rather suddenly in 1965 in Paris of a heart attack. His work is still displayed in some of our most hallowed institutions, including a famous mural at the Department of Interior in Washington DC.

What kind of art did Ernest Fiene make?

Ernest Fiene was primarily a landscape and cityscape artist. His choice to focus on people, as well as landscape, put him at odds with many of his contemporaries. He adopted many modern techniques (for the turn of the century) including the use of precisionist aesthetics -- a popular artistic style in the 1930s and 1940s borne from the Cubist-Realism movement. His work falls comfortably between realist and impressionist, his landscapes infused with a surreal quality that makes them feel more real than real. Rain glistens on the sidewalks of NYC, deliverymen shine shafts of light on barrels in dimly lit basements, this is the stuff of a Fiene that makes it special. 

How did painter Ernest Fiene get started?

While born in Germany, he immigrated in the early 20th century to avoid being conscripted into the Kaiser’s army during World War I. He studied at the National Academy of Design in New York City in the early teens before continuing his studies at the Beaux-Arts Institute in Manhattan. A life-long learner, Fiene continued his studies in the 1920s, this time learning printmaking at the Arts Students League of New York, where he met and married his first wife. After a successful solo show at the Whitney Studio Club, he was able to procure an art dealer that understood his aesthetics, which was considered quite modern for the time. He spent the rest of the decade traveling to Paris and Italy, eventually returning to New York in the 1930s to produce art in earnest. 

How much are Ernest Fiene paintings worth?

Ernest Fiene paintings are worth anywhere from a few thousand dollars up to around $40,000 for major work. The highest price ever paid for an Ernest Fiene piece was $38,400 for the painting Waterfront, Lower Manhattan (date not given) which sold on December 15th, 2004. It is the perfect example of a Fiene work -- an honest, surreal, and extremely modern take on the New York City skyline. 

Where to buy Ernest Fiene paintings for sale?

See works for sale below. Why buy from Heritage? Art buyers feel confident because our experts know the market and put careful valuations on artwork for sale. We make the bidding process easier to help you expand your art collection.

How to value Ernest Fiene paintings?

The best way to value art is to compare past auction prices for similar works. View past sale prices below. When you’re ready to sell, contact Heritage Auctions to request an auction estimate of the likely selling price at auction. If you need a formal written appraisal for estate planning or insurance, please contact our Appraisal Services department.


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Ernest Fiene Original Art values sold at auction

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