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    JOHN MARIN (American, 1870-1953)
    Trees, Rocks, and Schooner (Within the Three-Mile Limit), 1921
    Watercolor and ink on paper
    19-1/2 x 16-3/4 inches (49.5 x 42.5 cm)
    Signed and dated lower left: Marin '21
    Inscribed verso: Within the Three-Mile Limit


    Collection of Alfred Stieglitz;
    The Downtown Gallery, New York, circa 1939;
    Castleton China, Inc., New Castle, Pennsylvania;
    Christie's, New York, December 3, 1982, lot 195;
    Acquired by the present owner from the above.

    Montross Gallery, New York, "Exhibition of Watercolors, Oil Paintings and Etchings by John Marin," January 24-February 11, 1922, no. 77;
    University of California, Los Angeles, and elsewhere, "John Marin," February 1955-July 1956, no. 13;
    Arts Council Gallery, London, "John Marin: Paintings, Watercolours, Drawings and Etchings," September-October 1956, no. 54;
    Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, New Mexico, "Four Painters of the Stieglitz Circle," November 2, 1999-February 29, 2000;
    El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso, Texas, "Modern American Painting 1907-1936: The Maria and Barry King Collection," September 8, 2013-January 5, 2014, no. 16.

    P. Rosenfeld, "The Water-Colours of John Marin," Vanity Fair, New York, April 1922, p. 88, illustrated;
    AARC, no. 73;
    The Arts, vol. 5, February 1924, pp. 65-66, illustrated;
    S. Cheney, A Primer of Modern Art, New York, 1939, p. 191, illustrated (as Maine, the Sail Boat);
    Magazine of Art, vol. 26, December 1933, p. 545, illustrated;
    E. Mervin Benson, John Marin, Washington, D.C., 1935, pp. 45, 83, illustrated;
    Art Digest, vol. 24, October 1, 1949, p. 10, illustrated;
    S. Reich, John Marin: A Stylistic Analysis and Catalogue Raisonné, Tucson, Arizona, 1970, p. 882;
    "Discovering the American Modern 1907-1936: The King Collection," American Art Review, December 2013, pp. 80-87, 127, illustrated;
    P.S. Cable, Modern American Painting 1907-1936: The Maria and Barry King Collection, exhibition catalogue, El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso, Texas, 2013, pp. 54-57, no. 16, illustrated.

    In 1914, Marin began escaping the bustle of New York City to spend months at a time painting the rocky shoreline of Maine. The rugged outcrops and wild, churning sea had a profound impact on his artistic direction and subsequently, Maine became the artist's most compelling subject matter. This transitional moment was noted by a critic reviewing one of the artist's 1916 exhibitions: "Everything speaks of a liberation of spirit, working in harmony with its surroundings and actively alive" (as quoted in R.E. Fine, John Marin, exhibition catalogue, New York, 1990, p. 168).

    Marin's discovery of Maine defined a pivotal moment in his career. Indeed, that year was the artist's most prolific to date, and he produced nearly 100 paintings. These early depictions of the natural Maine landscape reflect a remarkable similarity to the New York cityscapes he was painting outside of the summer months. Both the city and the coastline inspired him--but ultimately it was from nature where Marin drew his primary motifs. "He was endlessly fascinated by the rugged contours of the Maine landscape and the sea, but he transposed his impressions into abstract pictorial design. By way of explanation he wrote, 'Seems to me that the true artist must perforce go from time to time to the elemental big forms--Sky, Sea, Mountain, Plain--and those things pertaining thereto, to sort of re-true himself up, to recharge the battery. For these big forms have everything. But to express these, you have to love these, to be part of these in sympathy'" (as quoted in Expression and Meaning: The Marine Paintings of John Marin, p. 14).

    In Trees, Rocks and Schooner, Marin tightens his geometric style when painting his trees, rocks, water, and boat. He places the horizon line high, flattening the natural elements of the seascape against the picture plane. He avoids the complex overlapping of geometric shapes and instead creates a pattern of broadly conceived forms resulting from a strong contrast of color. Marin uses assertive strokes of blue to capture the effect of the roiling sea, and juxtaposes them with more carefully applied, yet still broad and expressive, strokes of grey, brown and black to represent the shoreline.

    The inclusion of the sailboat in Trees, Rocks and Schooner represents an important and recurring subject within Marin's oeuvre. The man-made sailboat within nature functioned for Marin as a metaphor for inner travels, and for existence. Compositionally, the sailboat serves a critical function, as well. Sheldon Reich notes, "By 1921 Marin had developed a type of picture in which a boat occupies the focal point of the entire composition...Typical of this genre, the boat is seen in profile; the composition is a simple division of the paper into two almost equal horizontal zones of the sea and sky, the hull and lower parts of the sails jutting up against the sky" (John Marin: A Stylistic Analysis and Catalogue Raisonné, Vol. I, Tucson, Arizona, 1970, p. 142).

    In January of 1922, the Montross Gallery held an exhibition of Marin's latest works consisting of over 100 watercolors, four oil paintings, and some etchings. Paul Rosenfeld reviewed this show in the April issue of Vanity Fair and chose Trees, Rocks and Schooner to be one of three representative works to illustrate his article. Referring to this work, Rosenfeld wrote in his review "...he paints for us the sloop lifting her moth wings for the voyage out beyond the islands into the gray unknown...But the shore is about the vessel; and we remain on the shore; and let the mystical body take its voyage unboarded through the space which we may never know" ("The Water-Colours of John Marin," Vanity Fair, New York, April 1922, p. 88). Trees, Rocks and Schooner demonstrates Marin at the height of his abilities, conveying his unique and highly-personalized sensibility to nature, which set him apart from his contemporaries and garnered him distinction as one of America's leading Modernists.

    Condition Report*: Paper is hinged along the top edge verso with two pieces of archival tape, each 2 1/2" in length. There are remnants of brown paper tape from a previous mounting along the top edge verso, and a 1/2" area of residue from a cotton or linen tape along the bottom edge. There appear to be very slight, likely natural surface undulations in the paper along the top edge. There appears to be extremely light surface soiling around the extreme edges, not visible in the frame. Artist's pinholes in each of the four corners.   Please note that the present work is housed in museum quality Optium (museum acrylic glazing). For further information please contact a member of the department.
    *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
    November, 2014
    17th Monday
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