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    Description

    JOHN HENRY TWACHTMAN (American, 1853-1902)
    The Back Road, circa 1890s
    Oil on canvas
    30 x 22 inches (76.2 x 55.9 cm)
    Signed lower right: J H Twachtman

    PROVENANCE:
    Childe Hassam, 1915;
    (Possibly) Candace Stimpson;
    [With]Milch Galleries, New York;
    [With]Knoedler, New York, 1950;
    [With]ACA American Heritage Gallery, Inc., New York;
    Richard Glins, Hamilton, Ohio;
    Estate of the above;
    Private collection, Ohio.

    EXHIBITED:
    Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, Ohio, "Exhibition of Sixty Paintings by Mr. John H. Twachtman Formerly Resident in Cincinnati," April 12-May 16, 1901, no. 7;
    Department of Fine Arts, San Francisco, California, "Panama-Pacific International Exposition," February 20-December 4, 1915, no. 4075.

    John Henry Twachtman's Connecticut paintings from the 1890s mark the highpoint of his career in developing a unique American Impressionist aesthetic. In 1890, he and his family settled into a charming white cottage on Round Hill Road in Greenwich, a short train ride away from New York City, where he taught at the Art Students League. This countryside retreat, with its accompanying seventeen acres, provided Twachtman with an endless supply of landscape subjects for the rest of his life. Like Claude Monet at Giverny, Twachtman delighted in modifying his house and gardens over time, repeatedly imaging the features of his property - notably, a waterfall, pool bordered by hemlock trees, white bridge, and fields of native flowers.

    Near Greenwich in Cos Cob, a quaint fishing village on Long Island Sound, Twachtman also painted the environs of the Holley House, an inn and hub of the resident art colony. Here, fellow Impressionists, including Childe Hassam, Ernest Lawson, Theodore Robinson, and J. Alden Weir, shared meals together and critiqued books, music, and a favorite art form, Japanese prints. These friends also frequented Twachtman's house for work and entertainment; Hassam, for example, helped Twachtman construct a foundation for an addition to his house in 1894.

    Depicting one of the rustic lanes in Greenwich that so captivated Twachtman, The Back Road showcases his mature and innovative Impressionist style. A flattened, soaring foreground road and high horizon line - design elements borrowed from Japanese prints - direct the viewer's eye to the mid-ground tangle of brush and willow tree partially shielding a red house. Unlike the French Impressionists, who employed regular and distinct brushstrokes, Twachtman here blends certain pigments, overlaying them with gestural strokes in different lengths and directions, in order to create a simultaneously atmospheric and energized effect. Further enlivened by a brighter pastel palette characteristic of his mid-1890s works, The Back Road is a perfect example of Twachtman's later push toward abstraction, where recognizable forms dissolve into patterns of line and color.

    Beyond its personally charged subject and technical virtuosity, The Back Road emblematizes the popularity of the suburban landscape at the turn of the century. Twachtman scholar Lisa N. Peters explains: "Portraying intimate, semi cultivated sites in a well-loved countryside, Twachtman's Greenwich paintings reflect the ideals of the American suburban movement and the concentration on 'spirit of place' that took hold at the turn of the century. Thus, although rendered in a style influenced by French Impressionism, these works can be appreciated as distinctly American scenes. The antithesis of the idealized Hudson River School, Twachtman's works convey the novelty, refreshment, and the emotional uplift that could be found in an ordinary piece of land. They update the Hudson River School tradition by capturing the sprit of the frontier within a familiar suburban terrain" (L. Peters, John Henry Twachtman: An American Impressionist, New York, 1999, p. 147).

    The Back Road originally belonged to Childe Hassam, Twachtman's dear friend and fellow artist. It will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the work of John Henry Twachtman by Lisa N. Peters, Ph.D. and Ira Spanierman.


    Condition Report*: Lined canvas; there appears to be a small approx. .5 cm puncture with associated paint loss at center right edge; under UV exam, there is one small dot of inpainting in lower left corner. Framed Dimensions 36.375 X 26.375 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, 2015
    2nd Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
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