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John La Farge (American, 1835-1910) Autumn: October. Edge of a Wood, Late Afternoon. Glen Cove, Long Island

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American & European Works of Art - 2507
Date / Time :
May 21, 2010 12:00PM


John La Farge (American, 1835-1910)

Autumn: October. Edge of a Wood, Late Afternoon. Glen Cove, Long Island, 1860
Unsigned, inscribed "Autumn, Edge of Wood-Long Island...For Rich Frame" in pencil
and "...La Farge/ Lent by H. L. Higginson" in ink on a label from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, on the cradle.
Oil on unprimed cradled panel, 12 1/2 x 9 1/4 in. (31.8 x 23.5 cm), framed.
Condition: Craquelure, minor abrasions beneath frame liner.

Provenance: [sale, Leonard's Gallery, Boston, 18-19 Dec. 1879 (oils, lot 54)]; Henry Lee Higginson, Boston, 1879-1919; by descent in the Higginson family.

Literature: "The First Day's Sale of John La Farge's Paintings," Boston Evening Transcript, 19 Dec. 1879, p. 1; "La Farge's Pictures," Newport Daily News, 20 Dec. 1879, p. 2; "Art Sale in Boston," New York Times, 23 Dec. 1879, p. 5.

Exhibitions: Leonard's Gallery, Boston, The Drawings, Water-Colors, and Oil-Paintings by John La Farge. To be Sold at Auction, 18-19 Dec. [1879], lot no. 54 (oils); Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, "La Farge Memorial Exhibition," 1-31 Jan. 1911 [no catalogue], Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Paintings Department, Loan Card No. 1785.10 (1910) [unpublished].

N.B. The work was included in the late Henry A. La Farge's Catalogue Raisonne of the Works of John La Farge, and we wish to thank Dr. James L. Yarnall for updating and supplementing the information for inclusion in this catalogue entry.

La Farge moved from New York to Newport in the spring of 1859 to study painting with William Morris Hunt. He nonetheless frequently visited Glen Cove, Long Island, where his family had a large summer property that had been purchased by his father sometime before 1835. The impressive Glen Cove estate, extending over some fifty acres, could be accessed directly by boat from both Hempstead Harbor and Glen Cove Bay. The main building was a large brick house with a stone terrace, opening onto a lawn bordering heavy woods.

On October 15, 1860, La Farge married Margaret Mason Perry in Newport after a year-long courtship that had been complicated by differences between her Episcopalian faith and his Roman Catholic religion. The couple apparently spent time at Glen Cove after the wedding as a means of reconciling the marriage with La Farge's mother, who had been widowed in 1858.

La Farge painted a handful of small oils during this stay at Glen Cove. They depict the lush woods and rolling hillsides surrounding the La Farge country house. All are small plein-air exercises executed on wood panels (La Farge's preferred medium at the time). All were intended to capture the light conditions and naturalistic features of the terrain in the spirit of French Realist or Barbizon art. These paintings reflect La Farge's disenchantment with his training in the studio of William Morris Hunt, where La Farge criticized Hunt's "formulas" and forged a self-proclaimed "programme" to study "realistic painting" as a fresh start.

Exhibited at Leonard's Gallery in 1879 as "1860. Autumn: October. Edge of a wood, late afternoon. Glen Cove, L.I. Panel. 12 1/2 x 9 1/2," Higginson evidently purchased the picture at the auction. When Higginson lent this picture in late 1910 to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, for the La Farge Memorial Exhibition, he registered it as "Autumn, edge of wood, Long Island," a title very similar to that assigned by the catalogue of the 1879 Leonard's Gallery exhibition/auction. A registration photograph taken at the time of the Memorial Exhibition also identifies this as the work loaned by Higginson.

A comparable work, Autumn: October. Hillside, Noonday, Glen Cove, Long Island, 1860, is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, bequeathed by Mrs. Henry Lee (Ida Agassiz) Higginson in 1935.

Estimate $15,000-25,000

Dots and dashes of retouch, primarily to sky area in both u.l. and u.r. quadrants and along frame liner in the l.l. quadrant, craquelure throughout, possible thin wash of retouch to trees in u.l. quadrant approx. 1 x 3/4 in., varnish inconsistencies.


John La Farge, Henry Lee Higginson, Leonard's Gallery, Boston Evening Transcript, Newport Daily News, New York Times, William Morris Hunt, Paintings Department, Henry A. La Farge, James L. Yarnall, Glen Cove Bay, Hempstead Harbor, Margaret Mason Perry, studio of William Morris Hunt, Gallery exhibition/auction, Memorial Exhibition, Henry Lee, Ida Agassiz, John LaFarge