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    Marguerite Thompson Zorach (American, 1887-1968)
    Along the River-Martigues, 1910
    Oil on panel
    12-5/8 x 15-7/8 inches (32.1 x 40.3 cm)
    Signed with monogram lower left: MT
    Signed, dated, and titled on the reverse: M. Zorach / Along the River / Martigues / 1910

    Property from The Wainwright Collection of American Modernism

    Private collection, Washington, D.C., circa 1960;
    Private collection, Florida;
    Hollis Taggart Galleries, New York;
    The Maria and Barry King Collection, Texas, acquired from the above, October 2002;
    Heritage Auctions, Dallas, The King Collection, November 17, 2014, lot 68007;
    Dod and Annie Wainwright, Fort Myers, Florida, acquired from the above.

    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. 17.

    E. Thompson Calleary, "Marguerite Thompson Zorach: Some Newly Discovered Works, 1910-1913," Women's Art Journal 23, no. 1, Spring/Summer 2002, pp. 24-28;
    P.S. Cable, El Paso Museum of Art, Modern American Painting 1907-1936: The Maria and Barry King Collection, exhibition catalogue, El Paso, Texas, 2013, pp. 58-60, no. 17, illustrated.

    Marguerite Thompson Zorach was one of the first American artists to embrace abstraction. Along the River-Martiques is historically significant as one of her first Modernist paintings, and also one of the earliest-known American Fauvist works. Painted in Provence during the summer of 1910, the dynamic composition is a prime example of the young artist's openness to the innovations of the French avant-garde in its use of simplified geometric forms outlined in blue, and colored with vivid, thickly painted pinks, reds, greens, yellows, blues and whites. Her wedges of color certainly suggest sails, masts, water, and hulls crowded together in the Martiques harbor, yet their interlocking forms illustrate Thompson's more radical desire to create paintings that were "perfectly flat, no planes, distance, perspective, or anything."

    As Patrick Shaw Cable has noted, "While the bold outlining and unmodulated color sections might suggest the French Post-Impressionist style of Cloisonnism, Marguerite's firmly structured composition brings such features to an entirely new level. Perhaps the best analogy to her painting would be a modern work of brilliant stained glass. Even the white-shirted, blue-trousered sailors are treated as pictorial building blocks, and bold areas of white and black take on an expressively coloristic role within a dazzling display." (Modern American Painting 1907-1936: The Maria and Barry King Collection, exhibition catalogue, El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso, Texas, 2013, p. 60)

    From the start of her career, Marguerite stood somewhat apart from the rest of the American Modernist crowd in several ways, all of which gave her a certain freedom of artistic approach and her brand of Modernism a less-derivative appearance. She was a woman from a highly educated affluent family (her father was a lawyer for the Napa vineyards) who provided her with educational and other opportunities (such as travel). She was from California rather than the East Coast. She was fluent in French and German, and was one of the few women accepted at Stanford University before she dropped out to go to Paris to study art. In Paris she elected (despite her grasp of French) to study at the more progressive Academie de la Palette, where classes were taught in English, rather than at some of the more traditional art schools. Notably, at La Palette, one of her primary instructors was a non-Frenchman, the Scottish Colorist John Duncan Fergusson, who embraced Fauvism early and encouraged his students to experiment rather than follow a strict course of study. And in Paris, she had an important entrée into French cultural society through her Aunt Addie (Harriet Adelaide Harris) who introduced her to such luminaries as Picasso, the Steins, Zadkine and Jean Cocteau, and also took her on a seven-month trip around the world through Egypt, Palestine, India, Burma, Malaysia, Indonesia, China, Korea and Japan-in part to try and separate her from William Zorach, the American from Cleveland with whom she had fallen in love at La Palette. (It didn't work: the couple married in 1912 and formed a lasting personal and artistic partnership.)

    Marguerite made the 1910 trip to Provence together with her gifted La Palette classmate, English artist Jessica Dismorr (1885-1939), who became one of only two women members of the Vorticist movement in Britain. From May to June the two women visited Avignon, Saint Rémy, Provence, Arles, Les Baux-de-Provence, and Marseille and Martigues on the coast.

    When Marguerite returned to the States, she and her new husband William displayed their vividly colored canvases at some of the most important early exhibitions of modern art in America, including the 1913 Armory Show and the much more selective 1916 Forum Exhibition of Modern American Painters where she was the only woman exhibitor. Interestingly at the Armory Show her work received notice but was dismissed as far too radical by the narrow-minded reviewers of the time. On the other hand, when William Zorach had shown works like this to the most forward-thinking painters in Cleveland, he saw them go wild for them-notably William Sommer who was deeply inspired by Marguerite's startling originality. It made a huge impact on the future course of his work.

    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*: Under UV exam, there appear to be several small dots of inpaint in the craquelure, including a C-shape at lower center white shape, as well as an approx. 5 inches horizontal line of inpainting at the upper right extreme edge. Scattered spots of craquelure throughout. Minor wear to the upper left corner with accompanying loss (approx. 1/8 inch).
    Framed Dimensions 22 X 25.5 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: 6
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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