DescriptionGEORGE BENJAMIN LUKS (American, 1867-1933)
High Bridge Harlem River, circa 1915
Pastel crayon on cardboard
13-1/2 x 15 inches (34.3 x 38.1 cm)
Signed lower right: George Luks
In 1908, the Macbeth Gallery in New York mounted an independent exhibition of artists who became known as "The Eight," consisting of Arthur B. Davies, Maurice Prendergast, Ernest Lawson, William Glackens, Everett Shinn, John Sloan, and George Luks. This show was a milestone in modern American painting and defied the constraints of traditional academic painting. "The Eight" were known for their gritty, realistic representations of urban development in and around New York City.
Symbolizing the dawn of the technological age, bridges became a leitmotif in American modernist paintings. The High Bridge had been commissioned in the mid-nineteenth century to lend the grandeur of Rome to New York, and it became a favorite of American painters who had studied in Europe. While the bridge took its design cues from the Roman aqueducts, it also incorporated the most contemporary designs of its time. Ernest Lawson's Harlem River at High Bridge from around 1915 is in the permanent collection of the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco.
We are grateful to Judith Hanson O'Toole for her generous assistance in the attribution of this lot to the hand of George Luks.
Excerpt from Judith Hansen O'Toole's letter regarding "High Bridge Harlem River":
"In 1912, Luks and his second wife were able to move from a small apartment in the thick of Manhattan to a large home with an attached studio in Highbridge Park at the northernmost tip of Manhattan. . . .This change of scenery took Luks out of the city and gave him new subject matter and a brighter palette. The urban scene at leisure, rather than at work, became his subject. . . .Moving away from the dark palette of the Dusseldorf school, Luks' palette took on brighter colors, his brush work became dappled and playful.
This pastel is evocative of the mid-teens with its bright color and direct strokes of the pastel crayon. The subject of children playing was one of the artist's favorites during any period and here they are shown along the shore of the Harlem River with the High Bridge in the distance."
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