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    Description

    JULIAN ONDERDONK (1882-1922)
    The Wood Gatherers
    Oil on canvas
    25in. x 30in.
    Signed lower left

    In this tour-de-force Texas landscape painting, Julian Onderdonk pays homage to and links the great tradition of the Barbizon School landscape painters with the then-emerging tradition of Texas landscape painting.

    In the mid-1800s, a group of young French artists, the so-called Barbizon School, struggling to obtain recognition in the Paris salons, abandoned accepted academic tradition and began to paint the landscape plein-air. They retreated from the center of the art universe -- Paris -- to the forest of Fontainebleau to paint a romantic vision of the landscape where the seasonal rhythms of nature -- flora, fauna, and the common man -- existed in an idyllic harmony.

    Similar to the Barbizon masters, Julian Onderdonk retreated from the artist hub of the nation -- in this case, New York City -- to his "Fontainebleau," the environs of Central Texas. It was in San Antonio and the Hill Country of Texas that Onderdonk became the father of a new Texas landscape painting tradition, which embraced the often wild, barren, and desolate Texas landscape. In Onderdonk's world, the lonely prickly pear, a scourge to farmers and ranchers, became an object of beauty; the comparatively barren Texas landscape became a "garden of eden" as the spring rains caused indigenous wildflowers to bloom.

    A decidedly Barbizon theme, The Wood Gatherers draws on the tradition of Corot and Millet, each of whom painted works with the same title. Far from copying Corot or Millet, Onderdonk borrows the theme of the peasant gleaning from the land. In this painting, Onderdonk creates a romantic treatment of the Texas landscape, respecting the traditions of the Barbizon, the French Impressionists, and the latest traditions of American landscape painting, exemplified by the Old Lyme School. The French peasant becomes the Hispanic woman and her son. The ox cart becomes the donkey cart loaded with gleaned mesquite and oak. Julian Onderdonk takes his own environs, a dry and dusty land loaded with prickly pear cactus, and finds the underlying beauty. He returns to Texas from New York to paint what he knows, his own land, a feat the Regionalist painters of the so-called Dallas Nine will repeat a generation later.

    Suffused with light, shadow, and impastoed texture, the work is a virtuoso performance in paint. One can feel the bright, almost inescapable light. The two diminutive figures reinforce the "bigness" of Texas's land and sky....and yes, the sky, the sky, Onderdonk's big blue sky and clouds.



    Condition Report*: Excellent condition on lined canvas with very minor restorations. Period frame in excellent condition.
    *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. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

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    Auction Dates
    December, 2006
    2nd Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
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