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Georgia O'Keeffe (American, 1887-1986) Alligator Pear in White Dish

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American & European Works of Art - 2493
Date / Time :
January 29, 2010 12:00PM


Georgia O'Keeffe (American, 1887-1986)

Alligator Pear in White Dish, 1921-23
Initialed, titled, and inscribed "OK...O'Keeffe..." on the backing.
Oil on canvas-covered board, 12 x 9 in. (30.5 x 22.9 cm), framed.
Condition: Very minor surface grime.

Provenance: From the artist to The Downtown Gallery, New York; thence to The Mayo Hill Galleries, Wellfleet, Massachusetts, thence to Katrina Grullemans, Chatham, Massachusetts; by family descent to present owners.

Literature: Barbara Buhler Lynes, Georgia O'Keeffe: Catalogue Raisonné, Volume Two, New Haven: Yale University, 1999, no. 35, pgs. 1102 and 1115 (illustrated).

Exhibitions: The Anderson Galleries, 1924; The Downtown Gallery, New York; The Mayo Hill Galleries, Inc., Wellfleet, Massachusetts, July 1954.

N.B. In the forward to a 1936 exhibit at Alfred Stieglitz's American Place gallery, Marsden Hartley described the works of O'Keeffe's earlier period-specifically her diminutive compositions of flowers and vegetables-as contending with "the border-line between finity and infinity" and describing "nature in her simplest appearance." (1) The present work illustrates these qualities recognized by Hartley, which explores the relationship between the organic and inorganic, as well as the sculptural and two-dimensional. The white dish is presented as full-bodied in its meticulously-worked modeling and yet ethereal in its luminosity. The alligator pear, with its thin, reductive surface, is placidly poised both in and on the dish. Through the illusion of symmetry, the viewer is led to see the objects as ideal forms, and yet, as subtle irregularities reveal themselves, the materiality of the objects comes forth.

According to the stock book of The Downtown Gallery, as well as a letter from Georgia O'Keeffe to Edith Halpert dated December 2, 1953, the present work is dated 1921. (2) The stock book and sales invoice also indicates that the work was lent and exhibited at The Mayo Hill Galleries in Wellfleet in July 1954, retained and sold to The Mayo Hill Galleries on September 7, 1954, and paid in full on October 5, 1954. (3) The work was purchased by Ms. Grullemans, a resident of Chatham in the 1950s, presumably around this time.

1) Hartley, Marsden. Georgia O'Keeffe: Exhibition of Recent Paintings, 1935 [January 7-February 27, 1936]. New York: An American Place, 1936.
2) Downtown Gallery records, 1824-1974, bulk 1926-1969. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Series 4: Business Records: Gallery Stock. Stock Books, Stock, C-R (6 of 7), 1941-1960s. 4.2: Gallery Stock, 1926-1974, undated (Box 62, reel 5606, frame 1017-1018).
3) Ibid.; Downtown Gallery records, 1824-1974, bulk 1926-1969. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Series 4: Business Records: Sales Records, Artwork. Sales Slips (2 of 2), 1954, 4.3: Sales Records, Artwork, 1928-1972, undated (Box, 72, reel 5627, frame 970).

Estimate $100,000-150,000

There are no other condition issues to report.


Gallery, Georgia O'Keeffe, Mayo Hill Galleries Inc., Wellfleet, Marsden Hartley, Katrina Grullemans, Chatham, The Downtown Gallery, Massachusetts, Barbara Buhler Lynes, Yale University, Downtown Gallery, Alfred Stieglitz's American Place gallery, Alfred Stieglitz, forward, Edith Halpert, Smithsonian Institution, Gallery Stock,,, Box, American art, Guggenheim Fellows, Modern painters, Precisionism, Wellfleet, Massachusetts