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    Description

    CHARLES SPRAGUE PEARCE (American, 1851-1914)
    Moments of Thoughtfulness, 1882
    Oil on canvas
    21-1/2 x 29 inches (54.6 x 73.7 cm)
    Signed lower left: Charles Sprague Pearce / Paris

    PROVENANCE:
    Estate of the artist;
    Vanderbilt Estate, Cambridge, Massachusetts, circa 1920s;
    By descent in the family, until 1999;
    Private collection, Maine, 1999-2000;
    Private collection, 2000-2009.

    Charles Sprague Pearce was one of the most poetic and highly regarded American painters of French peasant subjects. Born in Boston, he was the grandson of the noted poet and banker Charles Pearce, who participated in the Boston Tea Party. After his graduation from the Boston Latin School, the aspiring painter worked as a merchant in the China trade, painting all the while. In 1873, upon the advice of William Morris Hunt, Pearce travelled to Paris where he studied in the atelier of Leon Bonnat alongside classmate John Singer Sargent. In the early 1880s he settled permanently in the small village of Auvers-sur-Oise, some 20 miles from Paris, where he devoted himself to painting tender and beautifully observed scenes of peasant life in a style strongly influenced by Jules Bastien Lepage and Jules Breton, which blends the freedom of Barbizon brushwork with an academic treatment of the figure. His reputation soon soared. The American expatriate showed regularly at the Paris Salon and received numerous awards, including the pinnacle of French distinction, the Legion of Honor.

    Though based in France, Pearce always maintained close ties with the United States. He served as chairman of the Parisian jury for the Chicago Exposition of 1893 and the St. Louis Exposition of 1904, and in the 1890s executed a series of six lunette murals for the Library of Congress.

    Prior to 1999, Moments of Thoughtfulness remained for 70 years in the same American family, who received it as a gift from the Vanderbilt estate in Cambridge, Massachusetts, during the 1920s. It is very likely that the Vanderbilt family acquired the painting directly from Pearce. This important painting's wonderful condition on an unlined canvas is a testament to its longevity in a private collection. Particularly well-preserved is the nearly life-sized face of the young, dark-haired girl. It is rendered with impeccable draftsmanship and a high degree of finish fully comparable to the best work of Pearce's contemporary, the great French academician Bouguereau. Contrasting with the porcelain quality of the figurative passage is the brushy, blisteringly white sky, a trademark of the revolutionary French landscapist Corot. The high horizon line of the hillside, as well as the gestural treatment of the wide grassy field sprinkled with red poppies in bloom, show Pearce's awareness of Impressionistic techniques, as well as of specific Japanese pictorial conventions informing contemporary French painting. In this one remarkable work, Pearce blended a constellation of influences, demonstrating how attuned he had been to the major trends in French art of his period.






    Condition Report*: Very good condition:  areas of very faint craquelure, commensurate with age; relined canvas; minor scattered in-painting in sky region and throughout sitter's face and left hand; in meadow, 4 dots of in-painting in upper left quadrant, 2 dots in lower left quadrant, about 5 dots in upper right quadrant, and a 1"-long area of in-painting in lower right quadrant, beneath sitter's sleeve.
    *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, 2009
    11th-12th Wednesday-Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 5,542

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    19.5% of the successful bid (minimum $14) per lot.

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