DescriptionBROR JULIUS OLSSON NORDFELDT (American, 1878-1955)
A Hillside Village, circa 1914
Oil on board
14-3/4 x 19-3/4 inches (37.5 x 50.2 cm)
Signed lower right: Nordfeldt
Signed and titled verso: A Hillside Village / B.J.O. Nordfeldt
PROPERTY FROM THE KING COLLECTION, TEXAS
Estate of the above;
Private collection, Santa Fe, New Mexico;
Owings-Dewey Fine Art, Santa Fe, New Mexico;
Acquired by the present owner from the above, December 1998.
Hollis Taggart Galleries, New York, "The Color of Modernism: The American Fauves," April 29-July 26, 1997, no. 50;
El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso, Texas, "Modern American Painting 1907-1936: The Maria and Barry King Collection," September 8, 2013-January 5, 2014, no. 38.
P.S. Cable, Modern American Painting 1907-1936: The Maria and Barry King Collection, exhibition catalogue, El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso, Texas, 2013, pp. 104-06, no. 38, illustrated.
Known primarily as a Post-Impressionist painter, B.J.O. Nordfeldt worked in diverse styles and media throughout his career, including etchings and prints, portraiture, still lifes , and landscapes. The palette, composition and overall strength of A Hillside Village reveal an artist aware of the latest Modernist developments, capable of incorporating them into a unique style and vision.
Born in Tullstrop, Sweden, in 1878, Nordfeldt moved with his family to Chicago in 1891. That same year, he enrolled at the Art Institute of Chicago. He was later selected as an assistant to Albert Herter on a mural commission, and as a result of his work, he was awarded a trip to Paris in 1900. He stayed for a year and then traveled on to England, where he learned woodblock printing before returning to the United States in 1903.
In 1910, Nordfeldt returned to Europe. At that time, his work began to reveal a shift from Whistlerian Tonalism to the formal simplification of the French Post-Impressionists exemplified by Paul Cézanne and Paul Gauguin. His work became more abstract through his flattening of form and distortion of space. The paintings of Henri Matisse and the Fauves helped transform the low tones in his works into a fully brilliant palette, as evidenced in the present work. The result is a thoroughly modern reinterpretation of the American landscape. Dr. Patrick Shaw Cable writes, "A Hillside Village coincides with the beginnings of the painter's embrace of Cézanne and also manifests his familiarity with the Cubist landscape, but the chief interest of this rare canvas lies in its bold expressionism. As one of Nordfeldt's works with the strongest affinities to classic Die Brücke Expressionism, the painting reminds us that he absorbed multiple lessons during his European travels. And perhaps more to the point, the work stands as a reminder of Nordfeldt's innovations in printmaking, not to mention the influence his prints could exert on his painting...Notably, in the present canvas the broad black lines between distinctly colored planes approximate the dividing white lines of the artist's prints. Two other features relating to his signature woodcut technique are the crude forms and angles, and the effect created by the dry-brush application of white or another color over others. A final remarkable aspect is the manner in which Nordfeldt's energetic composition pulls together its profusion of variegated colors; the colorful buildings and trees of the village next securely within a pictorial frame of surrounding mountains, land, and sky, which are rendered in reds, white, and cobalt and teal blues" (Modern American Painting 1907-1936: The Maria and Barry King Collection, exhibition catalogue, El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso, Texas, 2013, p. 106).
Two small, faint surface accretions near the upper left and upper right corners; possible flecks of paint loss along the right extreme edge; there does not appear to be inpainting under UV exam. This painting is framed using Optium (museum acrylic glazing), which provides clear legibility for examination with both white light and black light. In order to maintain the integrity and airtight sealing of the housing, the painting was not viewed out of the frame for the condition report. Should you wish to have a more extensive report, we recommend firsthand inspection by a professional conservator. For assistance, please contact the department. Framed Dimensions 20.5 X 25.5 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. 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.
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