John Steuart Curry (American, 1897-1946) oil and tempera on canvas, “Wisconsin Still Life,” depicting two dead pheasants with a shotgun propped against a tree. Titled, signed “John Steuart Curry” and dated “1940” lower left. Sight – 44″ H x 29″ W. Gilt wood frame – 48 3/4″ H x 33 5/8″ W. Shown in the Annual Exhibition of American Paintings and Sculpture from November 27 thru January 8, 1941 at the Whitney Museum of American Art; illustrated and discussed in the book “John Steuart Curry: Inventing The Middle West” by Patricia Junker, Page 86, figure 7. Junker writes that this painting “exists largely as a demonstration of painterly sumptuousness in the tradition of late nineteenth French still-life painting, most notably the canvases of Pierre Auguste Renoir. Even here [Curry] remained dependent on his subject, choosing the colorful plumage of two dead pheasants as justification for departing from his usual greens and browns….It is ironic, considering the profoundly serious, socially oriented nature of Curry’s creative ambitions, that it would be his simpler and less thematically ambitious paintings, such as Spring Shower, Wisconsin Still Life, and Wisconsin Landscape, that are now leading the way toward a more sympathetic reappraisal of his qualities and importance.” (p. 85). Born in Kansas, John Steuart Curry became the youngest member of the famed “Benton-wood-Curry” trio of regional painters of the early 20th century American Scene Movement. He studied at the Art Institutes of Kansas City and Chicago and for a year(1927) in Europe at the Academy Julian. When Curry returned to New York in 1928 he produced his work “Baptism in Kansas,” which launched his career as a regionalist. Mrs. Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney bought “Baptism” for her museum and became his major patron. Curry remained in New York until 1936 teaching at Cooper Union, then at Art Students League. His works are in the collections of several museums including the Whitney Museum of American Art, Art Institute of Chicago, Metropolitan Museum, St. Louis Art Museum Collection. Provenance – the estate of the artist; Graham Gallery – NYC; Merritt Chase Gallery – Chicago; Knoxville, TN collection. Condition: Canvas laid down on board. Overall very good condition, blacklight indicates a few small inpainted spots in the sky area and one of the red pigments used by Curry appears to flouresce a light purple. These areas are confined to the neck and upper shoulder area of pheasants and one of the background trees and a couple of places in the foreground grass.
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