MAURICE STERNE (American, 1878-1957)
    Angelina Toppoli, 1910
    Oil on canvas
    32 x 25-3/4 inches (81.3 x 65.4 cm)
    Signed lower left: Sterne


    Private collection, New York;
    Hollis Taggart Galleries, New York;
    Acquired by the present owner from the above, November 2003.

    Hirschl & Adler Galleries with Milch Galleries, New York, "Retrospective Exhibition: Maurice Sterne," February 6-24, 1962, no. 3;
    El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso, Texas, "Modern American Painting 1907-1936: The Maria and Barry King Collection," September 8, 2013-January 8, 2014, no. 11.

    C.L. Mayerson, Shadow and Light: The Life, Friends, and Opinions of Maurice Stern, New York, 1965;
    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. 47-48, no. 11, illustrated.

    Among Maurice Sterne's most sophisticated and successful paintings, Angelina Toppoli reflects one of the artist's favorite locales as well as his various stylistic influences picked up on sojourns throughout Europe. The present work is among at least two portrayals of Angelina Toppoli that Sterne painted in the Italian Village of Anticoli Corrado during the summer of 1910.

    Sterne had first visited the hilltop village of Anticoli Corrado in the Roman countryside in 1908, and he immediately fell in love with its exotic, lush surroundings and strikingly beautiful models. Here, local Italian peasant model Angelina Toppoli is shown seated in a landscape, bathing one foot in a stream while resting her left ankle across her thigh. Stylistically, Angelina Toppoli clearly reads as an homage to Cubism--Sterne renders the scene with repetitive, faceted forms and an unmistakable knowledge of Cubist space. The archaized figure registers a sculptural solidity, and her form is materialized through color planes and articulated, distinct brushwork that reveals the depth of Sterne's admiration for Cézanne, Picasso, and Gauguin, among others.

    Sterne was born in Memel, Latvia, in 1878, and his family began living in Moscow in 1885. In 1889 they fled anti-Jewish pogroms in the city, settling in New York. From 1894 to 1899, Stern studied with Thomas Eakins at the National Academy of Design, where he met Alfred Maurer and later served as an assistant instructor. In 1904 a scholarship allowed him to go to Europe, where he spent the rest of the decade. During his first few years in Europe, Sterne lived a bohemian life in Paris, becoming acquainted with the work of Cézanne and other French Modernists through his friendship with Leo Stein and through his visits to the Salons d'Automne. He also studied work in museums by artists such as Delacroix and Manet, and he visited Germany and Italy, where he was drawn to the early Renaissance masters Piero della Francesca and Andrea Mantegna.

    In the summer of 1910, while Sterne was living and working in Anticoli Corrado, Leo Stein visited and reported to his sister, Gertrude, "He is making the great discovery of why Cézanne and Matisse and others draw the way they do. His own drawing is tending in that direction too" (as quoted in C.L. Mayerson, ed., Shadow and Light: The Life, Friends and Opinions of Maurice Sterne, New York, 1965, p. 83).

    Sterne continued to travel and exhibit throughout Europe over the next two decades. In 1929 he became President of the Society of American Painters, Sculptors and Gravers, and four years later he was honored with a solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

    Estimate: $30,000 - $50,000.

    Condition Report*:

    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.

    *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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    Auction Dates
    November, 2014
    17th Monday
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