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    ALSON SKINNER CLARK (American, 1876-1949)
    Shore by the Saint Lawrence (October Bouquet), 1916
    Oil on board
    34 x 45 inches (86.4 x 114.3 cm)
    Signed and dated lower right: Alson Clark 16


    Petersen Galleries, Los Angeles, California 1983.

    Jean Stern, Alson S. Clark, Peterson Galleries, Los Angeles, California, 1983, no. 33, ill. in color, p. 79.

    Exploding in a riot of autumn colors, including warm reds, oranges, purples, and yellows, dappled sunlight envelops Alson Sinner Clark' Shore By the Saint Lawrence. Painted in the divided color typical of Impressionist technique, Clark is able to suggest lushness of the landscape-punctuated by grazing cattle-and convey the sense of immediacy and spontaneity so critical to the agenda of Impressionist tenets. A tour de force in his oeuvre, this painting represents the Impressionist sensibilities of Clark at his best. Although his style changed over the years, becoming increasingly more controlled and tighter as he aged, he remained a devotee of Impressionism in the face of the onslaught of Modernism its new artistic agenda.
    Clark is now recognized as one of the most important cosmopolitan artists who lived, painted, and taught in California during the early twentieth-century. Well heeled, and trained with some of the most important American artists and teachers of the period, Clark's career spans a formative period in the history of American Impressionism, and reflects the style of its practitioners living in the Southland. Although he resided in California throughout the latter part of his life-beginning in 1919-he was an intrepid traveler, an artist of "world," whose peripatetic lifestyle took him to places including Paris, the artist colony in Giverny, France, Spain, the Panama Canal, Mexico, and Dalmatia (now Croatia). He was represented by art dealers on both coasts, William Macbeth in New York, and Earl Stendahl in Los Angeles, two of the most influential aesthetic arbiters of their age.
    A Chicago native who was born into a family of some financial means, Clark's artistic talent was apparent from childhood. His parents enrolled the budding artist in evening classes at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago beginning in 1887. Two years later, the Clark family embarked on a two-year trip "grand tour" around the world, giving the artist his first introduction to European art.
    In 1896, Clark enrolled at the Art Students' League in New York to study with William Merritt Chase. When Chase opened his own school, Clark, among many other students, followed him. A dedicated and sympathetic instructor, Chase's influence on Clark was enduring. For two summers he lived and worked at Chase's summer school in Shinnecock, Long Island-painting en-plein-air-which presaged his inclination towards Impressionist practices.
    Like so many American artists, Chase left America to study painting in Paris, the undisputed art capital of the world during this period. Enrolling in James Abbot McNeill Whistler's short-lived school, the Academie Carmen, Clark found the school "rotten." Nonetheless, Clark recognized the Whistler's genius-and tolerated his phlegmatic personality-attending the school intermittently until its demise. Returning to America in 1901, Clark met and married his wife, Medora, and the couple immediately returned to Paris where they resided until the outbreak of World War I. During the first several years of their marriage, the coupled traveled throughout France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Canada, and Dalmatia, returning intermittently to Chicago or the family summer home on Comfort Island, one of the Thousand Islands in Alexandria Bay that border the Saint Lawrence River from the East. The scenery at this bucolic setting inspired a number of splendid and important paintings, including Shore By The Saint Lawrence. While in Europe, his works were exhibited in America at venues such as the Art Institute of Chicago, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Paris Salon, and the National Academy of Design in New York.
    The Clarks went to Giverny during the summer of 1910 (best known as the residence of Claude Monet), where among the colony of American Givernois, including Guy Rose, Lawton Parker, and Frederick Frieseke, Clark solidified his commitment to Impressionist tactics. His palette brightened, his brushwork became divided, and the importance of high key color became paramount.
    In the spring of 1913, the couple decided rather spontaneously to visit the Panama Canal zone that was under construction. Clark documented this construction in a series of oils depicting the actual construction of the canal, which were shown as a group at the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco.
    The outbreak of World War I in 1914 found the Clarks in a conundrum-nearly stranded in Europe-they nonetheless successfully secured passage back to America and hand carried a number of the major paintings that were unfinished with them. Sometime between 1914 and 1916, the couple went to New England and then to Charleston, South Carolina, where Clark painted his Eastern surroundings. However they also spent some time at the family summer home on Comfort Island. Clark had a studio on the large, sprawling property, and even painted murals on the interior of the actual home. He painted Shore By The Saint Lawrence during the fall of 1916.
    At the outbreak of the War in 1917, Clark enlisted in the Navy. At forty-one y ears old, he was hardly a candidate for conscription. However, he believed that his fluency in French and familiarity with the French countryside could be useful. Originally assigned as a translator, he was reassigned as an aerial surveillance photographer. The frequency of dangling over the side of a plane left him deaf in one year, and Clark reluctantly moved to Los Angeles in February 1919 (on the advice of his physician) to live in the salubrious California climate, eventually settling in Pasadena.
    By 1921, Clark had already become a significant member of the Southern California art community. That year, he assumed the directorship of the Stickney School of Fine Arts in Pasadena when his friend Guy Rose, who had served as director, suffered a debilitating stroke, and Earl Stendahl, the most powerful dealer in Southern California, hosted an exhibition of the artist's work. During the next twenty years, he took frequent trips throughout California , the Southwest, and to Mexico. The Arroyo Seco, literally in his backyard, became a frequent subject of his brushes. Clark came to California as a seasoned, respected, and accomplished artist. Nonetheless, the beauty of the Southland-from the arid deserts to the lush mountains-inspired a new phase of his art and career.

    The definitive study on Alson Clark is Deborah Epstein Solon: An American Impressionist: The Art and Life of Alson Skinner Clark, exh. cat. (Pasadena Museum of California Art: Hudson Hills Press, 2005).

    Condition Report*: Excellent condition. Framed Dimensions 42 X 54 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.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    March, 2012
    20th Tuesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
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