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    Description

    Eastman Johnson (American, 1824-1906)
    Portrait Sketch of Sanford Gifford
    Oil on board
    18 x 12-5/8 inches (45.7 x 32.1 cm)
    Initialed lower right: E.J.
    Inscribed on the reverse: Sketch by / Eastman Johnson / of Sanford Gifford /Portrait Sketch of / Sanford Gifford / by Eastman / Johnson


    PROVENANCE:
    Private collection, New York;
    Private collection, Irvington, New York, by descent.

    In a letter dated August 22, 2017, which accompanies the present work, Dr. Patricia Hills writes:

    "Sanford Robinson Gifford (1823-1880) was a well-known landscape painter and a good friend of [Eastman] Johnson's. Johnson did three frontal bust-length portraits of Gifford, each slightly different; they are in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, and the National Academy of Design in New York. Only the Met's version is dated 1880 (the year he died), so the portraits may be posthumous. When Gifford died, Johnson wrote on August 30, 1880, to their mutual friend Jervis McEntee, that he felt Gifford's death to be "a great break into our particular circle." [Quoted in Teresa A. Carbone, Eastman Johnson: Painting America (Brooklyn Museum of Art, 1999), p. 105.]

    "The full-length portrait sketch shows a bearded man with dark brown hair facing left in profile, standing with legs crossed, and leaning on the back of a sketchily executed chair. His right arm crosses underneath his left arm with the right hand carefully executed and apparently holding a thin implement; his left hand held up close to the beard is unfinished. I suspect that the work was done from life. I do not have enough information to hazard a guess about the date, except to suggest '1860s-1870s.' He seems much younger here than in the Metropolitan's portrait.

    "The mixed technique is typical of Johnson. The grey-brown tones that create the background are thinly painted and sketchy. The dabs of red, pink, and cream-colored pigment that make up his face are also characteristic of such a sketch; there is a definite outlining to the face and along the edges of the trousers and parts of the shoes. The detailed highlighting of the two jacket buttons in contrast to the sketchily painted jacket is another telling characteristic of Johnson's portraits. . . .

    "It is a splendid portrait sketch by one artist, Eastman Johnson, respectful of another artist, Sanford Gifford" (Patricia Hills, letter to Mary Adair Dockery, Heritage Auctions, August 22, 2017).

    This work will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the artist's work being compiled by Patricia Hills, PhD.




    Condition Report*: White paint accretion along top edge; faint 5.5" vertical scratch in left background; wear along edges, notably in corners; uneven varnish.
    *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, 2017
    3rd Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 9
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,273

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