Auctioneers and Appraisers

Charles Courtney Curran (American, 1861-1942) The Sirens

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


Charles Courtney Curran (American, 1861-1942)

The Sirens
Signed and dated "CHARLES C. CURRAN 1893" l.r.
Oil on canvas, 18 x 32 in. (45.7 x 106.7 cm), within a probable Stanford White frame.
Condition: Lined.

Provenance: Purchased from the artist by Stanford White, National Academy of Design Exhibition, 1893; Old and Modern Paintings Belonging to the Estate of the Late Stanford White, American Art Galleries, Mendelssohn Hall, New York, April 11, 1907, lot no. 49; …; gift from an architect to apparel designer Beatrice Donin (1893-1981), c. 1940s-60s, New York City and New Rochelle, New York; by family descent to nephew Ralph Donin, New Rochelle, New York; by family descent to a private New England collection.

Literature: Charles Courtney Curran artist record book, no. 141-8; Catalogue of Old and Modern Paintings, Water Colors and Drawings Exclusively the Property of the Estate of the Late Stanford White, New York: American Art Association, 1907 [not illustrated, descriptive text]; Levy, Florence, ed., American Art Annual, Second Edition Including Paintings Sold at Auction, Volume VI, New York: American Art Annual, Inc., 1908, p. 36; "Low Prices Paid for White Pictures," New York Times, April 12, 1907; Naylor, Maria, The National Academy of Design Exhibition Record, 1861-1900, Volume I, New York: Kennedy Galleries, Inc. 1973, p. 208.

Exhibitions: National Academy of Design Exhibition, 1893.

N.B. We wish to thank Kaycee Benton for her assistance with cataloging the lot; the work will be included in her forthcoming catalogue raisonne on Curran.

The present work was the Thomas B. Clarke prize winner at the National Academy of Design in 1893, when Stanford White acquired the work. White was a renowned architect but also a "consummate designer, enthusiastic and willing to work in any medium" from metalsmithing to woodworking.(1) White's foray into frame design may have sprung as a diversion from his architectural renderings, but it became an integral part of his interior designing. He sourced Old Master and contemporary paintings for both his own collection and those of his clients. Of the frames that White designed from scratch, there is a "common decorative motif that he enhanced with combinations of different moldings to make frames of different widths." (2) He was also known to make custom frames for particular works of art. The frame on the present work is reminiscent of the Stanford White frame on Portrait of Helen Sears by Abbott Thayer, dated 1892, which shows comparable abutting S-scrolls throughout. The S-scrolls in the present frame, however, are broader and wave-like, to complement the subject of Curran's work. The cresting wave motif is repeated again in the ornament band surrounding the work.

1. Gray, Nina, "Within Gilded Borders: The Frames of Stanford White," The Gilded Edge: The Art of the Frame, San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2000, p. 83.

2. Ibid., p. 86.

Estimate $18,000-22,000


Stanford White, Charles Courtney Curran, American Art Annual Inc., National Academy of Design Exhibition, New Rochelle, New York City, Mendelssohn Hall, York, Beatrice Donin, Ralph Donin, New England, American Art Association, New York Times, National Academy of Design Exhibition Record, Kennedy Galleries Inc., Kaycee Benton, the Thomas B. Clarke prize, National Academy of Design, renowned architect, consummate designer, Helen Sears