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    HARRY LEITH-ROSS (American, 1886-1973)
    The Sleigh
    Oil on canvas
    24 x 30 inches (61.0 x 76.2 cm)
    Signed lower left: Leith Ross
    Titled and signed stretcher verso: The Sleigh Leith Ross

    Private collection, Grand Rapids, Michigan, c. 1945;
    Thence by descent to the present owner.

    Best known for his snow-covered landscapes, Harry Leith-Ross was among the most celebrated artists of the New Hope School of American Impressionism. Leith-Ross painted en plein air with the Pennsylvania countryside as his favored subject, and became a leader of this genre in the early to mid-twentieth century. His fellow painter John Folinsbee noted that his scenes were "outstanding records of his favorite terrain, Bucks County in Pennsylvania - its moods, its quality, its roads, mills and farm lands - subjects lived with and known through years of understanding" (Watercolors by Harry Leith-Ross, exh. cat. New York: Ferargil Galleries, 1946).

    Harry Leith-Ross was born in the British colony of Mauritius and grew up in Scotland and England. He began his art training at the Decluse Academy and the Académie Julian in Paris. In 1910, the young artist came to the U.S. and began painting studies at the National Academy of Design and at the Art Students League Summer School in Woodstock, New York. In Woodstock, Leith-Ross was influenced by and forged close relationships with the painters Birge Harrison, John F. Carlson, and John Folinsbee. He was introduced to the New Hope artists' colony in 1914 when he began spending winters at Birge Harrison's winter home there and became well acquainted with the colony's leading Impressionists, including Edward Redfield and Daniel Garber. Leith-Ross would continue to visit and paint in New Hope, becoming an increasingly prominent member of the artists' circle, and in 1935 he made his permanent residence there.

    Leith-Ross gained renown for depicting humble genre scenes of rural life and finding beauty in the everyday activities of people in the countryside. For more than thirty years he traveled the country exhibiting his vibrant works to great acclaim, and received numerous prizes and glowing reviews from art critics. His snow scenes in particular garnered praise for their distinct charm, skillful rendering and universal appeal. The Herald Tribune art critic Royal Cortissoz wrote, "Anyone of ordinary ability can paint a recognizable picture of our typical woods and pastures, but arresting the imponderable spirit of these things is another story. Mr. Leith-Ross arrests it, especially when he is painting snow scenes. There he seems to get into his impression the very essence of the old-fashioned American country house, the worn barn and its more or less unkempt surroundings." (Erika Jaeger-Smith, Poetry in Design: The Art of Harry Leith-Ross, Doylestown: James A. Michener Art Museum, 2006, p. 60)

    Painted in jewel-like hues and thick, impastoed brushwork, The Sleigh is a superb example of Leith-Ross' ability to transform a common scene of everyday life into a sophisticated and eye-catching composition. Leith-Ross masterfully contrasts sunlight with shadow, as well as the stark white blanket of snow in the foreground with a vibrant backdrop of colorful trees. In this scene, a solitary figure is transported by a horse-drawn sleigh along a trodden path and past a sleepy, shuttered cottage. In the trees and foliage, amber, emerald and violet hues are interwoven to dazzling effect. Leith-Ross' scene conveys a sense of rural tranquility while its lively color palette, brilliant sunlight, and charming sleigh create a vivid and idyllic representation of country life.

    Condition Report*: Original canvas, stretcher and frame, including glass covering. Scattered craquelure mostly concentrated in bottom two thirds of canvas; 1/4 in. line of discoloration around outside perimeter. Painting could benefit from a light cleaning.
    *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, 2010
    27th Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 5
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 8,330

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    19.5% of the successful bid (minimum $14) per lot.

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