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    Description

    The Hon. Paul H. Buchanan, Jr. Collection

    WILLIAM TROST RICHARDS (American, 1833-1905)

    Woodland Landscape (Woodland Glade), 1860
    Oil on canvas
    17 x 13-3/4 inches (43.2 x 34.9 cm)
    Signed and dated lower right: W. T. Richards 1860

    PROVENANCE:
    Collection of Mr. and Mrs. John Dautrich, in 1980;
    Collection of Judith and Wilbur L. Ross, Jr, New York, until 1997;
    Purchased from Widing and Peek Fine Art, Inc., New York, April 11, 1997.

    LITERATURE:
    L. Ferber, William Trost Richards (1833-1905). American Landscape and Marine Painter (Ph.D. Diss. Columbia University), New York and London, 1980, fig. 188, ill. p. 494;
    L. Ferber and W. H. Gerdts, The New Path: Ruskin and the American Pre-Raphaelites, New York, 1985, no. 73, p. 222 (related work in collection of Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick, Maine).

    Woodland Glade of 1860 is one of the finest and earliest American Pre-Raphaelite landscapes by Philadelphia painter William Trost Richards. With all of its gloriously observed botanical detail in the foreground, and the convincing glimpse of a sunlit glade beyond a tunnel of vegetation in the center, the composition relates closely to a horizontal painting of the same site now in the permanent collection of Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick Maine. Richards spent the summer of 1860 in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where his student Fidelia Bridges recalled that he "was painting out-of-doors the largest canvas he had ever painted from nature." While Woodland Glade is not the largest he made that summer, it is the most sophisticated among the handful of feverishly detailed, "finished" landscapes he produced in Bethlehem, in oil, entirely outside.

    Richards' interest in striving for exacting fidelity to nature can be traced to approximately 1856, when he returned from a year-long tour of Europe. He probably encountered Ruskin's Modern Painters around that time because he started taking summer sketching trips into the Catskills, Adirondacks and the mountains of Pennsylvania, and accumulating careful studies of plants and geological formations as Ruskin recommended. The springboard for Richards' decision to start painting - not simply sketching - outdoors was the American Exhibition of British Art held at the Pennsylvania Academy in 1858. There he would have seen a vast array of Pre-Raphaelite painting, as well as their conventions for framing their works with arched tops - in the manner of Medieval altarpieces.

    Indeed, Woodland Glade, with its arched top and mandorla of light emanating from within the deep forest, communicates an intense reverence for nature as the inspiration for art. As such, it epitomizes the Ruskinian ideal.

    The stretcher bars for the present work, which appear to be Richards' originals, retain a paper label of German origin which reads, in part: G. Kausz. The bars show evidence of having been cut down from longer lengths as well. The fact that Richards had spent some months in Düsseldorf, just prior to embarking on this group of plein-air landscapes, suggests that he probably reused a stretcher from a painting he had made, or acquired, during his trip abroad.






    Condition Report*: Relined on old stretcher bars, which may or may not be original to the painting. They show some evidence of having been cut down from longer lengths, which is possibly something the artist himself had done. Apparently original to the rectangular-format painting is the arch at the top of the composition, although the black spandrels appear to have been enhanced. Painted black spandrels formed by the painted arch align perfectly with those of the arched frame, which is its present housing. The same black paint defining the spandrels continues around the perimeter of the canvas as a black border. Very fine craquelure commensurate with age. Paint entirely stable. Under UV examination there are scattered restorations to the black spandrels at the top of the painting as well as a few incidental strengthenings in the bark of the large trees.  Partial paper label on stretcher bar, probably German in origin: G. Kausz.
    *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
    June, 2009
    10th-11th Wednesday-Thursday
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