American, 1855-1942

William Biddle

oil on panel
13 x 9 1/2 in., frame: 20 x 16 1/4 in.

  • Provenance: The artist; to her niece, Ernesta Drinker Barlow; a gift to noted interior designer Harold B. Cultra; by bequest to Richard Barker; to his estate; with Alfred J. Walker Fine Art (Boston); by descent within a Hamilton, Massachusetts Family.

    The internationally acclaimed American figure painter Cecilia Beaux was heralded by her friend and fellow artist William Merritt Chase (1849–1916) in 1899 as "not only the greatest living woman painter, but the best that has ever lived." Though Beaux rejected the term "woman painter," and instead, predicted as early as 1915 that "an hour when the term ‘Women in Art' will be as strange sounding a topic as ‘Men in Art' would be now."

    Beaux embraced the framework of her family for the creation and reception of her work throughout her career. This portrait depicts her uncle and guardian William Foster Biddle, who was instrumental to her introduction to fine art and Philadelphia society. Thanks to her uncle's encouragement of her burgeoning talent, Beaux's sitters were not confined to women and children, and she received formal commissions from Philadelphia's leading citizens and institutions. By the age of 18, Beaux was earning a living through commercial art and her works were exhibited internationally including the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris where she received the Gold Medal. In 1933 Beaux received the Chi Omega Gold Medal from Lady Eleanor Roosevelt who celebrated the artist as, "the American woman who had made the greatest contribution to the culture of the world."
  • Condition: Could do with a cleaning; minor horizontal craquelure along top and bottom thirds of work; UV examination reveals scattered inpainting throughout, most notably an approx. 8 in. horizontal repair across gentleman's chest.

    Please note: All property is sold "AS IS" and any statement, whether oral or written, is given as a courtesy and shall not be deemed as a guarantee, warranty, or representation of the authenticity of authorship, physical condition, size, quality, rarity, importance, provenance, exhibitions, literature or historical relevance of the property or otherwise. The absence of a condition report does not imply the item is in perfect condition.

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May 1, 2022 11:00 AM EDT
Boston, MA, US

Grogan & Company

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