DescriptionJOHN STEUART CURRY (American, 1897-1946)
Portrait of Stanley Young, 1932
Oil on canvas
Signed, titled, and dated lower right: STANLEY YOUNG / JOHN STEUART CURRY / 1932
32 x 30-1/4 inches (81.3 x 76.8 cm)
Walker Gallery, New York (label verso).
L.E. Schmeckebier, John Steuart Curry's Pageant of America, New York, 1943, no. 112, p. 169.
This lot is accompanied by a copy of the Schmeckebier monograph on John Steuart Curry. Schmeckebier compares the Portrait of Stanley Young to two of Curry's self-portraits of 1927 and 1937:
"His portrait of the writer Stanley Young before a typewriter at the window of his studio is undoubtedly an adequate representation of the struggling artist, but at the same time it reveals a half humorous, half sympathetic attitude of the painter which takes serious form in his own portrait."
Schmeckebier illustrates the Portrait of Stanley Young with notes on the painting:
"A portrait, conceived half humorously yet with deep sincerity, of a young writer who loved to dramatize himself as a great artist. The heavy arm and clenched fist, the hand supporting the head, are well-known gestures that imply such a 'struggle.' The placement of the figure before the studio window with the hazy landscape outside, however, carries many of the same associations noted in the studio Still Life and the First Snow [two of Curry's other paintings]."
Also accompanied by two letters from the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
The first is a letter from Stanley Young to John Steuart Curry, dated January 17, 1946. Young inquires, "By the way, what ever happened to that portrait of mine that you did? Was it printed in the biography of your work [Schmeckebier, John Steuart Curry's Pageant of America, New York, 1943]?"
The second letter contains Curry's response.
Stanley Young was a playwright, author, and literary critic for the New York Times, circa 1940s-1950s. Two plays written by Young were "Laurette" and "Mr. Pickwick." Additionally, Young, having served on the board of Farrar, Straus Publishing Company in New York for several years, acquired a partnership in the publishing company, and in 1951 the company was renamed Farrar, Straus, Young Publishing Company, Inc.
John Steuart Curry, a leader in the American Regionalist movement, was born on a farm near Dunavant, Kansas. After receiving a thorough education in art, including attending the Kansas City Art Institute, the Art Institute of Chicago, and Geneva College in Pennsylvania, he moved to New York to study illustration with Harvey Dunn. Finding it difficult to make ends meet as an artist, he moved to Paris, with a patron's support, and spent the next year studying at Schoukhaieff's Russian Academy, where his artistic interest lay with the work of Gustav Courbet and Peter Paul Reubens rather than of the burgeoning expressionist and abstract movements that influenced many of his peers. Upon returning to the States, he embraced the Midwest values of his youth and began incorporating these into his work. His first major Regionalist painting, Baptism in Kansas, garnered him much critical acclaim and recognition from the New York art world. Art historian Matthew Baigell stated, "To Curry, man's actions on the land, his contest with nature for dominance, was the basic American experience. Curry recognized the capacities of both - nature's ability to devastate the land and man's ability to bring great riches from the soil." Within these scenes of man's interactions with nature and much of Curry's other works, there is an underlying religious theme combined with a yearn for nostalgia.
Estimate: $100,000 - $150,000.
Some areas of overpainting including the forehead above his right eye, below his ear, between the paper and bookend on the lower edge, and places along the lower left and right corners. Some craquelure in places.
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