Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    KENYON COX (American, 1856-1919)
    May, 1890
    Oil on canvas
    15-1/2 x 30 inches (39.4 x 76.2 cm)
    Signed and dated lower left: Kenyon Cox 1890


    Collection of William T. Evans, circa 1893-1900;
    Sale: American Art Galleries, Chickering Hall, New York, "American Paintings belonging to William T. Evans," January 31-February 2, 1900, no. 137.

    World's Columbian Exposition (Chicago World's Fair), Chicago, Illinois, May 1-October 30, 1893 (bronze medal);
    Grand Central Art Galleries, New York, "La Femme," March 6-August 15, 1984.

    This quiet and radiantly colored nude by noted muralist Kenyon Cox was once part of the pioneering collection of American paintings amassed by dry goods merchant and railroad financier from Montclair, New Jersey, William T. Evans, who was the largest collector of American art before World War I. Evans assembled three collections of American painting, the first and second of which he sold at auction, and the third of which he donated to museums--notably 160 works to the then newly-formed National Gallery in Washington, 60 to the Montclair Museum, and smaller numbers to other museums in his home state. Cox's painting, May, belonged to Evans' second collection which he sold at public auction in 1900. In the catalogue accompanying that sale, a biography of Kenyon Cox speculated on why paintings of nudes were less numerous at exhibitions than they had been: "Years ago our exhibitions contained more pictures of the nude than now, a fact that is explained probably by the important commissions for mural painting given out of late which have absorbed the creative power of many of our most accomplished figure painters who are not devoted to portraiture. Kenyon Cox is one of those who was formerly a frequent contributor of works having the nude for subject, and an easel canvas by him of the sort is now a rarity. His skill as a draughts- man and the fine decorative quality of his composition have been long recognized. His portraits, notably some small ones, are considered among the best produced by the recent American school, and his ventures in landscape and out-door subjects have been received with cordial approval. As a designer and illustrator Mr. Cox's work is widely known and generally conceded to belong in the first rank, because of its intellectual, scholarly composition, and, as in his nude subjects, its masterly knowledge of the figure."

    Cox's nude May, which had been awarded a medal in the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, was described in the Evans catalogue as: "A nude female figure reclining on a grassy bank, with a piece of yellow drapery under her. Trees covered with spring blossoms fill the left of the composition. Beyond, at the right, a stretch of landscape. The young girl is painted with rare knowledge of form, and the figure is delicious in color."

    Condition Report*: Lined canvas; there appears to be faint craquelure throughout; under UV exam, there appears to be several scattered spots of inpainting along the edges to address frame wear as well as a few scattered dots in the lower half of canvas, none in the figure; framed in what appears to be the original frame.
    *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, 2015
    2nd Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 4
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,940

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    25% on the first $100,000 (minimum $14), plus 20% of any amount between $100,000 and $1,000,000, plus 12% of any amount over $1,000,000 per lot.

    Shipping, Taxes, Terms and Bidding
    This item cannot be shipped using standard methods. Please contact us for more information. Sales Tax information

    Important information concerning Sales Tax and Resale Certificates. Learn More

    Terms and Conditions  |  Bidding Guidelines and Bid Increments |  Glossary of Terms

    Sold on May 2, 2015 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
    Only 24 days left to consign to the 2021 October 28 Lalique & Art Glass Signature Auction!

    Learn about consigning with us

    The picture of each piece, the brief description, incoming bids, what paintings were coming up next in the queue and, of course, the auctioneer; all perfectly organized and presented! Your service was great.
    Ray Holland,
    Chester Gap, VA
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search