Edgar Payne (1883-1947) Laguna breakers 48 x 57in (overall: 56 x 65in)

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Lot 39
Edgar Payne
(1883-1947)
Laguna breakers 48 x 57in

Sold for US$ 293,000 inc. premium
Edgar Payne (1883-1947)
Laguna breakers
signed (lower right)
oil on canvas
48 x 57in
overall: 56 x 65in

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    The artist Frederik Grue, Los Angeles, California.
    Private collection, Southern California.

    Exhibited
    Laguna Beach, Laguna Beach Museum of Art, Southern California Artists: 1890-1940, July 10 - August 28, 1979.

    Literature
    Laguna Beach Museum of Art, Southern California Artists: 1890-1940, Laguna Beach, 1979, p. 148-149, illustrated full page.

    The Laguna Beach Museum of Art catalogue dates this painting as 1922.

    Regarded as the "poet-painter" of the California Sierras, Edgar Payne was a leading American landscape artist and muralist, painting the golden mountains of the Sierras, deserts of the Southwest, and Navajo horsemen of the red canyons. Payne was equal parts artist and adventurer. Born in Washburn, Missouri on March 1, 1883, Payne left home at the age of fourteen traveling from the Ozarks to Mexico finding work painting homes and signs, and occasionally designing sets for theatre productions. Except for a brief stint at the Art Institute in Chicago in 1907, he was essentially a self-taught artist, allowing nature to be his muse and instructor. He spent weeks in isolated locations such as Arizona and the Eastern Sierras, filling canvases with vibrant color, luminous light, and energetic brushwork.

    Like many of his contemporaries, Payne was drawn to the American West, making his way to California in 1911. He spent several months in Laguna Beach before heading north to San Francisco where he met his future wife artist Elsie Palmer. Initially he struggled as a professional artist, until earning his first major commission in 1917. He won the bid from the Santa Fe Railroad to paint the Southwest along the track-lines stretching from Albuquerque to California. That same year, Payne, his wife and their young daughter returned to Laguna Beach. The couple was highly involved in the burgeoning art community there. As a result, Payne became the first president of the Laguna Beach Art Association in 1918 and remained active within the organization after his move to Los Angeles in 1920. Throughout his artistic career, Payne exhibited works in California, Chicago, New York, San Francisco, and Paris solidifying him as a prominent and influential American artist.

    The crashing waves breaking on the rocky coastline are virtually audible in Payne's tour de force, Surging Sea. Delineated and vivacious brushwork accentuate the force and power of the undulating whitecaps. Yet Payne creates a tonal range of grays, blues, and pallid whites to replicate the windblown crests, reiterating the natural palette to cast shadows and create highlights on the craggy strand. Quick, staccato-like brushstrokes suggest marine algae growing in the crevices of the shoreline buffers, the rushing movement of churning foam on the water, and cloud formations high in the horizon. His use of asymmetrical composition enhances the dynamism and intensifies the contrast between sea and land. The artist belonged to the school of plein-air artists which is evident from his ability to blanket the scene in natural light and atmospheric shadow. Payne captures raw power in Surging Sea and reaches the highest limits of conveying unaffected natural spectacles.

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