Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    Abel George Warshawsky (American, 1883-1962)
    Boats on the Seine, 1911
    Oil on canvas
    26 x 32 inches (66.0 x 81.3 cm)
    Signed and dated lower left: A G. Warshawsky 1911

    Property from The Wainwright Collection of American Modernism

    Freeman's, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, December 7, 2008, lot 119;
    Gratz Gallery, Doylestown, Pennsylvania, 2010;
    Dod and Annie Wainwright, Fort Myers, Florida, acquired from the above, 2011.

    Cleveland Artists Foundation, Cleveland, Ohio, "Abel G. Warshawsky in France, 1908-1931," September 19, 2010-January 8, 2011;
    Cleveland Artists Foundation, Cleveland, Ohio, "Pioneering Modernism: Post-Impressionism in Cleveland, 1908-1913," May 24-July 27, 2013.

    H. Adams, Cleveland Artists Foundation, Painting in Pure Color. Modern Art in Cleveland before the Armory Show 1908-1913, exhibition catalogue, Cleveland, Ohio, 2013, pp. 46-47, 116, fig. 41, no. 24, illustrated.

    A painting by Abe Warshawsky was the very first work of art the Wainwrights purchased for their collection of Cleveland School Modernism. Warshawsky was a perfect starting point since he was first Cleveland artist to discover the use of intense color in France, and also the first to bring it home to Cleveland in an array of landscapes and portraits that shocked, appalled and absolutely delighted the city's artists and patrons. His November 1910 exhibition at the Rorimer Galleries became a cause célèbre. There was no going back to the 19th-century model of painting with "brown sauce." The vivid impressionistic manner had arrived, and set off what Henry Adams called "a series of chain reactions that led the group [of Cleveland artists] towards progressively more daring forms of modern art." (Henry Adams, Painting in Pure Color, exhibition catalogue, Cleveland Artists Foundation, Cleveland, Ohio, 2013, p. 33) Interesting, while he started the Modernist fire, Warshawsky did not dive into its increasingly radical forms such as Fauvism or Cubism along with other Clevelanders. He continued in the Impressionist mode for the rest of his career, creating a body of many stunningly beautiful works, including the present scene, Boats on the Seine, composed of complimentary greens and soothing lavender blues. He spent most of his career in France, returning periodically to sell his paintings to American collectors.

    Once they began collecting Warshawsky the Wainwrights kept an eye out for other prime examples of his vivid canvases. They spotted Boats on the Seine in an exhibit at the Cleveland Artists Foundation in 2010, noticing it had been on loan from a gallery. They quickly tracked it down and three years later loaned it from their own collection to the exhibition "Painting in Pure Color" where is was displayed in a different context in the same gallery.

    Warshawsky painted this view of candy-colored barges moored on a curve of the Seine in the heart of Paris sometime in the summer of 1911, a few months following his return to Paris from his ground-breaking Cleveland exhibition. The trees on the far bank of the Seine are still green and lush and hadn't yet started to turn. During this period, Warshawsky was sharing a Paris apartment with William Zorach, another Cleveland Modernist painter. The two painted together during the summer months and, in fact, painted very similar scenes along the Seine, though Warshawsky's work shows a brighter palette and a more sophisticated grasp of color principles. Warshawsky was generous about sharing his practical theories of color application, and Zorach both learned from them and made a record of them:

    "The new technique was based upon the juxtaposition of the primary colors in the spectrum. Sunlight was warm, yellows, red and oranges; shadows were cold, made up of greens, blues, and purples, with a sprinkling of warm colors to give life and vibration. Black was eliminated and colors were mixed on the canvas, not on the palette. White was used to modify and create values and lightness and the strong heavy colors to establish depth. Artists used dots of varying sizes and lines according to their temperaments, sometimes pulling the spots together, sometimes separating them, often with the canvas showing between. Painting became atmosphere and vibration." (Painting in Pure Color, p. 39)

    To achieve this view, Warshawsky was seated on the left bank looking towards the Pont de Sully, the distinctive three-arched cast iron bridge which crosses the Seine near the tip of Île Saint Louis, one of two islands in the Seine in the middle of Paris. Off-camera to the upper left would be the Cathedral of Notre Dame which sits on the second island in the Seine, the Île de la Cité.

    This work is accompanied by the exhibition catalogue, Painting in Pure Color. Modern Art in Cleveland before the Armory Show 1908-1913 by Henry Adams (Cleveland Artists Foundation, 2013).

    Condition Report*: Glue lined canvas. Under UV exam, inpaint along the entire left and right edges, approx. 1/2 inch wide. 1 x 1/4 inch area of inpaint along the lower left edge. 1 1/2 x 1 1/2 'L' shape are of inpaint the upper right quadrant. A few extremely tiny spots of inpaint in the buildings.
    Framed Dimensions 32.5 X 40 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. Heritage does not guarantee the condition of frames and shall not be liable for any damage/scratches to frames, glass/acrylic coverings, original boxes, display accessories, or art that has slipped in frames. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    May, 2021
    7th Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 20
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 621

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    25% on the first $300,000 (minimum $49), plus 20% of any amount between $300,000 and $3,000,000, plus 12.5% of any amount over $3,000,000 per lot.

    Sold on May 7, 2021 for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)
    Track Item

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Consign to the 2021 November 16 Silver & Vertu Signature Auction.

    Learn about consigning with us

    My sincere thanks and appreciation for the professionalism in handling, promoting, and selling my painting.
    David H.,
    Dallas, TX
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search