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    Description

    ARTHUR FITZWILLIAM TAIT (American 1819-1905)
    Cows in Landscape and Deer in Landscape (a pair)
    Each signed at lower right, A.F. Tait
    Oil on relined canvas
    16 x 25 inches (each)
    Inscribed HAMMER by a later hand in chalk on stretcher bars of both paintings

    PROVENANCE:
    (probably) Hammer Galleries, New York;
    Property of a Gentleman

    LITERATURE:
    (possibly) two paintings of unknown dimensions listed in the artist's handwritten register of 1,557 oil paintings works preserved in three ruled notebooks, "A Record of Paintings by A.F. Tait," in the library of the Adirondack Museum, Blue Mountain Lake, New York, nos. 04.10 and 04.12 published (unillustrated) in Warder H. Cadbury, Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait. Artist of the Adirondacks, with a checklist of his works by Henry F. Marsh, Newark, London and Toronto, 1986.

    If ever an American painter could approach the luminosity achieved by the quintessential German Romantic landscapist, Caspar David Friedrich, then surely Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait would qualify with this outstanding pair of Adirondack lake scenes at sunset. A prolific painter of animals and sporting scenes (his known oeuvre totals more than 1,557 oil paintings), Tait usually portrayed his animals monumentally, in the manner of his first major artistic influence, the English painter Edwin Landseer, than he does in these highly refined canvases. In the present pendants, the watering cows and family of deer are key features of their respective paintings, but not secondary to Tait's emphasis on landscape and the mesmerizing golden light of late afternoon. These pendants are among the most finely painted landscapes in Tait's known oeuvre, and as such quite possibly correspond to two late works from 1904 listed in the artist's meticulous but incomplete register of 1,557 oil paintings preserved in the library of Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake, New York. Although the measurements for these two works are unknown and were approximated to roughly the dimensions of the present pictures in the Tait catalogue raisonné, one has the title Autumn, and bears a unique description, "Very much work. Elaborate," that certainly fits either one of these paintings more accurately than anything in Tait's known oeuvre.

    English-born Arthur Tait frequently produced work in pairs, in the manner of his English precedents and also the lithographers he had gotten to know shortly upon his arrival in the United States in 1850. (He achieved early fame for the Western scenes he produced for Currier and Ives, and later translated into companion paintings without ever having been west of Chicago.) Tait was careful to compose his paired pictures so that they related compositionally and thematically to one another. In designing the present pendants, the scene with the cows was designed to hang to the left of the deer so that the bodies of water they both possess would appear to meet in the center. Where they come together, the two halves of the lake also form an island that crosses into the space of both pictures. When the paintings are arranged in this manner, the large trees in the left and right foregrounds create the effect stage curtains that frame a spectacular natural performance. Also in the present pair, the artist has intentionally brought together a scene of domesticated cattle with a family of wild deer. Such pairings underscore a theme that was explored by many other figures associated with the so-called Hudson River School, a group with which Tait is usually art historically classified. Tait sometimes collaborated with other American landscapists of the period including James MacDougal Hart (1823-1894) and the German-born William Sonntag (1822-1900), both of whom are represented by paintings in the present fine arts auction.

    An alternate attribution to the American animal painter Newbold Hough Trotter (1827-1898) has also been proposed.



    Condition Report*: Condition report available upon request.
    *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
    November, 2006
    9th-10th Thursday-Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,696

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    19.5% of the successful bid (minimum $9) per lot.

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