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    Description

    JULIAN ONDERDONK (American, 1882-1922)
    Bluebonnets, Cloudy Morning, San Antonio, Texas, 1916
    Oil on board
    9 x 12 inches (22.9 x 30.5 cm)
    Signed lower right: Julian Onderdonk
    Signed, titled and dated verso: Blue Bonnets, Cloudy Morning - / [North] of San Antonio, Texas - / - Julian Onderdonk 1916 -

    Bluebonnets, Cloudy Morning, San Antonio, Texas was painted in 1916, around the time Onderdonk hit his stride with his bluebonnet paintings. It emphasizes the different schools of painting which can co-exist in the same work. It is a classic example of early Texas Impressionism; yet it also shows the influence of the Barbizon and Tonalist movements. Like the Impressionists, Julian was fascinated with the different times of day, particularly dusk and dawn and early morning in the Texas Hill Country. In this example, he is exploring the atmospheric qualities of a cloudy morning, which contributes to the moody, Tonalist quality of this particular work. It is easy to see how then, as now, such bluebonnet paintings are among some of the most highly coveted examples of American Impressionism.

    In 1909, after studying art in New York for eight years, Julian Onderdonk returned to Texas. During the following thirteen years, before his tragic death in 1922, Julian would paint the Texas landscape with a skill and sensitivity few, if any, artists have equaled. The particularly high quality of his paintings during this period is partly due to the formal training he received while attending the Art Student League of New York. It was there that he began taking classes from William Merritt Chase and later attended Chase's summer art school at Shinnecock, New York. Chase's formal influence helped Julian refine his work and further develop his own brand of American Impressionism, largely inspired by the beauty and grandeur of the Texas landscape.

    Chase is considered by many to be the most important American art teacher of his generation; some of his most famous students include Georgia O'Keeffe, Marsden Hartley, and Edward Hopper, to name a few. Chase began influencing Julian's work long before the two met. Julian's father and artist, Robert J. Onderdonk, helped found the Art Student League of New York and studied art with Chase during his last year there. Robert eventually settled in San Antonio, Texas and started a family. When Julian was sixteen years old Robert officially became his first art teacher, passing many of the lessons he learned from Chase on to his son long before Julian ever left Texas.

    Julian often embraced other styles popular during this period, especially Realism and Tonalism. Elements of Realism are evident in most of his landscapes, a product of his lifelong obsession with the natural world of Texas. His sister and fellow artist, Eleanor once wrote, "It is impossible to look at any of Julian's paintings and not see the man who looked at nature with wide-open eyes, analyzed, studied and then created." Additionally, many of Julian's paintings show the influence of the earlier Barbizon movement in France and the United States, exemplified by the later paintings of George Inness and the contemporaneous movement dubbed "Tonalism." While the foundation of his style is firmly rooted in Impressionism, at least some Tonalist elements can be found in a great deal of Julian's paintings. Indeed, some resemble the landscapes of Inness more than those of Chase.

    Julian's Impressionist landscapes of bluebonnets inspired exhibitions of paintings of Texas wildflowers in San Antonio from 1927 to 1929, and ultimately gave rise to the ubiquitous "Bluebonnet School," prevalent in Texas even today. Julian Onderdonk is often categorized as a Texas artist because of the popularity of his breathtaking paintings of the Texas Hill Country, especially those that include bluebonnets, but these three paintings show that definition is far too narrow. As the demand for his work grows, both inside and outside of Texas, they are increasingly being recognized as important examples of American Impressionism which transcend any regional classification.




    Condition Report*: Minor frame wear along extreme edges; spots of faint craquelure in areas of impasto, particularly in tree foliage; stable surface; under UV exam; there appear to be several small spots of inpainting along bottom and left extreme edges; likely to address frame wear, and one small dot in tree foliage near center right edge; Framed Dimensions 13 X 16 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. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

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    Auction Dates
    May, 2014
    17th Saturday
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