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    Description

    JULIAN ONDERDONK (American, 1882-1922)
    In the Hills -- Southwest Texas, 1912
    Oil on canvas
    16 x 24 inches (40.6 x 61.0 cm)
    Signed lower left: Julian Onderdonk
    Titled, signed, and dated verso: In the Hills -- S.W. Texas / Julian Onderdonk -- 1912

    Julian Onderdonk was a native of San Antonio and the son of the artist Robert Jenkins Onderdonk. In 1901, at the age of nineteen, he moved to New York City and attended several art schools. He then studied plein-air painting with William Merritt Chase at his summer school in Shinecock, New York. After returning home to Texas in 1909, he enjoyed considerable success during his lifetime. He became best known for his paintings of bluebonnets, but he also loved to depict the Texas Hill Country in all its incarnations. Unfortunately, he suffered an early death at the age of forty. In 2008, the Dallas Museum of Art held an exhibition entitled Bluebonnets and Beyond: Julian Onderdonk, American Impressionist which has further established his work as the most admired and sought-after of the early Texas artists.

    In the Hills-S.W. Texas
    was painted in 1912. It was part of a family collection in St. Paul, Minnesota, for over eighty years and has not been seen in Texas since that time. This painting is a particularly fine example of the artist's work from this period. Onderdonk combines an Impressionistic style with his own American brands of Realism and Tonalism. In this, his teacher, William Merritt Chase, was probably one of the most significant factors.

    In the Hills
    , in particular, reveals the depth of Chase's influence. Country roads, like those so often found in the teacher's work, are a motif to which, in the words of A. Kate Sheerin, "Onderdonk reverts upon his return to Texas...and proves the extent to which he assimilated Chase's example." Rural roads are relatively common in the student's work, human figures are not. The presence of people in Onderdonk's compositions is rare. However, Chase often placed small figures in his paintings dressed in colors like red and white in order to create contrast with the landscape and make them more visible. This formal device draws the eye into the scene and focuses the gaze of the viewer exactly where the artist wants it to travel. In this painting, Onderdonk's diminutive figure is dressed in red. He anchors the composition just below the far horizon, at the point where the road, hills and near horizon dramatically converge.

    The surface texture of In the Hills is rich. Particularly exquisite are passages like the buttery yellow of the road in the middle foreground. Equally superb is the brushwork with which Onderdonk depicts the prickly pear cactus on the right, the shadows beyond the great tree, and the flowers and grass on the left. Each one of these sections is masterfully rendered in different, painterly brushstrokes. When immersed in this masterpiece, one can taste the dust of the road, see through the light of the scorching sun, and feel the beauty of the Texas landscape.




    Condition Report*: Overall in very good condition:  faint craquelure throughout sky region, minor frame abrasion along right edge.
    *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
    January, 2009
    24th-25th Saturday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
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