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    Description

    FRANK WESTON BENSON (American, 1862-1951) and JOSEPH LINDON SMITH (American, 1863-1950)
    Before/After Portraits of L. A. Plummer, circa 1883-1885
    Oil on two separate canvases laid side by side on board
    15-1/2 x 25 inches (39.4 x 63.5 cm)
    Inscribed lower center: Paris
    Inscribed "Before Using" and "After Using" at upper left and upper right



    The subject of this fascinating pair of portraits of the same sitter on the same support is Leander Allen Plummer II (1857-1914), a late 19th-century wildlife artist who painted highly naturalistic fish and fowl, and also carved them from wood in meticulous relief .

    Leander Plummer was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts. His father was one of the incorporators of the successful New Bedford Cordage Company. Initially working as a mining engineer, Plummer changed direction in 1883, when he decided at the age of twenty-six to pursue art, and spent the next four years studying at the Academie Julian in Paris. In the French capital, this fascinating double-portrait of Plummer was produced by two fellow Americans who were classmates of Plummer's at the Academie Julian from 1883-1885: Frank Benson (who like Plummer distinguished himself as a wildlife artist) and Joseph L. Smith (who distinguished himself as a painter of Egyptian subjects). Benson and Smith had trained together at the Boston Museum School prior to their studies in Paris, where they also shared an apartment.

    Plummer returned to the United States with his artistic training to work initially as a commercial artist specializing in massive, elaborately carved furniture. He spent his summers in Potomska painting the wildlife he observed as an enthusiastic fisherman there and eventually discovered a talent in woodcarving after nature. He became so interested in marine specimens that he had a wharf constructed so he could study live marine mammals and fish. He often combined his painting and woodcarving skills in "relief paintings," his words for deeply carved wood reliefs that he stained with pigments to create a life-like appearance. He carved primarily in pine, teak and mahogany. His typical carvings took from six weeks to two months to complete and were regularly exhibited at Doll and Richards Gallery in New York. Plummer's panels became popular among fishermen and sportsmen, and by 1906 he had orders for approximately forty to fifty relief paintings.


    Condition Report*: Framed Dimensions 15.75 X 25.25 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
    May, 2012
    15th Tuesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,636

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