Richard Edward Miller (American, 1875-1943) Promenade des Anglais, Nice 16 x 25in
Lot 34
Richard Edward Miller (American, 1875-1943) Untitled (Charlotte Amelie, St. Thomas) 16 x 25in
US$ 20,000 - 30,000
£13,000 - 19,000

Lot Details
PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION, PORTLAND, OREGON
Richard Edward Miller (American, 1875-1943)
Untitled (Charlotte Amelie, St. Thomas)
Inscribed 'In September 1948 Donald Christenson who had bought in 1944 the/200 Bradford Street, Provincetown Mass property and studio of the late/Richard E. Miller, N.A.began the cleaning up of the old studio. This/unfinished painting was in an abandoned coal bin and he presented/it to Perry Stranberger of Montclair N.J. and Provoincetown Mr. Stranberger's opinion that it is a scene in Nice France at the Eastern end of the/Promenade des Anglais was sustained by the opinion of R. McGill Mackall,/Baltimore artist and pupil of R. E. Miller in the early 1900's in Paris/Hill in the background is presumed to be the Grande Corniche.' (on reverse)
oil on board
16 x 25in

Footnotes

  • Marie Louise Kane writes of this painting, 'While there is no documentation regarding this painting other than the conjectures of a former owner written on the verso, it was most probably painted on the island of St. Thomas, in the Caribbean, and not in Nice, on the Côte d'Azur, as suggested in the inscription. 200 Bradford Street was Miller's Provincetown address and it is entirely conceivable that an unfinished painting was found in the artist's old studio by its new owner a few years after Miller's death.

    In the winter of 1926 Richard Miller and his wife went to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where Miller was to conduct painting classes until April of the following year. While staying at the Grand Hotel in Charlotte Amalie, the island's capital, he also found a studio. Miller was at this time a firmly established, successful artist, based in Provincetown, MA. Having settled in Provincetown a few years after returning to the U.S. at the outbreak of WWI, from a fifteen-year sojourn in France, Miller quickly became one of the leading figures of the still young artist colony. As he had in France, Miller continued painting commissioned portraits as well as his ever-popular women-at-their-dressing-tables, exhibiting nationally, serving on art juries, and teaching privately. By 1922 he had completed four mural panels for Missouri's State Capitol, and had placed paintings in many leading museums in Europe and the U.S. He came to follow an annual schedule that usually consisted of summers in Provincetown and winter trips to warmer climates, with regular visits in between to see family in his native St. Louis.

    Miller's painting class in St. Thomas was advertised in advance. Tuition for the months-long program was $200, and those interested were to contact Austin Dunham, Miller's business manager. To date, a handful of Miller's St. Thomas paintings have surfaced. Among them are single portrait heads of native citizens, sun-dappled landscapes in which trees figure prominently (for example: Cotton Silk Tree, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, sold at Bonham's NY, May 21, 2008, lot 1068), street scenes with local figures juxtaposed against some of the town's massive colonial architecture, and seascapes - one titled Charlotte Amalie (private collection, illus. in Richard E. Miller, N.A., 1968), a blue-sky and cloud-filled view of the harbor with two sailing vessels – a schooner in full sail, and a smaller sailboat very much like the one in the painting under discussion.

    Several of the figures in this painting appear to be island women, in their colorful pastel dresses and head kerchiefs. The effort to convey a back-and-forth dynamic between the thin, sinewy tree trunks and the willowy female figures among them is one Miller had attempted several times before, notably while painting in California in 1916 and later in Provincetown. The semi-transparency of some figures in this painting, unfinished or not, lend it an engaging note of evanescence.

    Correspondence during this period between the Millers and their only child, Elsbeth – eighteen and attending Radcliff – reveal something of how Miller reacted to the island's colors. Elsbeth writes to her father, "I like your description of the St. Thomas population and the delicate color schemes that might be worked out in having your house harmonize with your complexion." (Letter Jan. 23, 1927) In this loosely painted, gentle scene of sun and shade, water and land, people walking and sitting, Miller quietly evokes the warmth, light, serenity, color and dignity of everyday life on the island.'

    Marie Louise Kane is an art historian, and author of A Bright Oasis: The Paintings of Richard E. Miller.
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