Description

    THOMAS FREDERICK MASON SHEARD (British, 1866-1921)
    Polishing Middle-Eastern Metalware
    Oil on canvas
    40 x 33-5/8 inches (101.6 x 85.4 cm)
    Signed with conjoined initials lower right: TFMSheard

    PROVENANCE:
    Purchased in New York by the late husband of the present owner, 1975;
    By descent to the present owner.

    Thomas Frederick Mason Sheard was a noted Orientalist painter, landscapist and portraitist. His oriental subjects frequently feature large crowd scenes and clusters of figures, notably in busy city markets and bazaars, painted from an elevated vantage point that imparts the feeling of a cinematic panorama. Sheard was an exact contemporary of the Impressionists, and while he never embraced their technique of broken brushwork, he certainly fell under the sway of their devotion to strong atmosphere, intense color, and dazzling lighting effects--all of which can be seen in his masterful Polishing Middle-Eastern Metalware--the finest work by his hand to have appeared at auction in the last twenty years.

    Polishing Middle-Eastern Metalware is a major rediscovery in Sheard's oeuvre. It was purchased by the husband of the current owner in New York City in the mid 1970s as a private sale. Its reemergence is noteworthy for it is the finest known example of Sheard's skill a first-rate still-life painter. (As a portraitist he is known for his wonderful likeness of noted carriageman E. K. Fownes, now in the Museum of London.) Here he shows two women polishing silver as well as other forms of exotic metalwork including large brass chargers, Turkish coffee pots, candlesticks, and miscellaneous forms of bric-a-brac. While the women look quite English in their physiognomy, they are surrounded by souvenirs of the artist's own travels to North Africa, Turkey, and Arabia. The presence of the peacock on a perch (is this taxidermy or a live bird?), and the container full of paint brushes on the far left, almost certainly reference Sheard's profession as a painter in particular, and an orientalist more specifically. The gleams of the light reflecting off the brass, silver, and copper vessels create a tapestry effect that is quite singular in Sheard's oeuvre.

    Sheard was born in Oxford, England but received his formative training in France under Courtois and Lefebvre, and in Paris received his earliest recognition. While residing abroad he regularly sent his paintings to British exhibitions where they were equally well received. He eventually returned to his native England to became Professor of Art at Queens College, London. Sheard's prodigious exhibition history includes 199 times at the Royal Society of British Artists, and 27 times at The Royal Academy. He also exhibited at The New English Arts Club, Royal Hibernian Academy, Royal Institute, Glasgow Institute, The London Salon, and Royal Miniature Society, among many others.

    Many of Thomas Sheard's paintings are housed in regional British museums. A work entitled The Washing Place, Montgesoye, Normandy dated circa 1900 in the Reading Museum features the likeness of the same model who appears in the foreground of the present work.


    Condition Report*:

    Lined canvas; faint craquelure in center quadrant of composition visible under raking light; under UV exam, there appears to be scattered inpainting, with spots along bottom edge and in center left portion of composition slightly visible under raking light, but dark pigments and uneven, professional varnish layer makes painting surface difficult to read.  Framed Dimensions 47.5 X 41 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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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2014
    21st-22nd Saturday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 3
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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