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    Description

    FROM A PRIVATE SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA COLLECTION

    SYDNEY M. LAURENCE (American, 1865-1940)
    Northern Lights
    Oil on panel
    15-1/2 x 19-1/2 inches (39.4 x 49.5 cm)
    Signed lower right: Sydney Laurence

    Sydney Mortimer Laurence was the George Inness of Alaska, specializing in tonalist, poetic paintings of the Alaskan wilderness and waterways and of the solitary daily lives of the region's inhabitants. His beginning art career read like that of a textbook academician: during the 1880s in New York, he exhibited works at the National Academy, helped found the American Fine Arts Society, trained with the marine painter Edward Moran, and studied at the Arts Students League; for his crowning "expat experience," he then moved with his wife to an artists' colony in Cornwall, England. Likely it was Laurence's subsequent adventurous experiences as an artist-war correspondent in Africa and China that triggered his wanderlust and propelled him to settle in Alaska around 1903, leaving his family behind in England. By 1920 Laurence had become a veritable commercial painter, Alaska's most famous artist with a booming studio in Anchorage, but his more modest early years in Cook Inlet, living in a makeshift camp at the foot of Mount McKinley, defined the soulful tenor of his landscapes.

    Laurence was interested in Alaska's unique, sublime nature, and in addition to Mount McKinley, he frequently imaged the area's noted light phenomenon, the aurora borealis. In Northern Lights, an exceptional tonalist work, Laurence contrasts the dynamism of the sky, with its snaking, electric light, and the utter stillness of the darker woods below, broken only by a tiny cabin light. Carefully scumbled brushwork simulates the striated "curtain effect" produced by the light rays streaking through the sky. Subtle gradations of blue tones, a hallmark of Laurence's mountain and ocean scenes, further create atmospheric drama.


    Condition Report*: Original canvas has been revarnished.  Otherwise painting is in very good condition.  Framed to an overall size of 23 x 26.5 inches
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

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    Auction Dates
    November, 2010
    20th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
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