Stephen Hannock, The Oxbow: For Lane Faison with Betty and Agnes Mongan (Mass Moca #147) Polished mixed media on canvas, 2011, 72 x 108 inches

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Lot 10W
Stephen Hannock
(born 1951)
The Oxbow, for Lane Faison with Betty and Agnes Mongan (Mass MoCA #147) 72 x 108in

Sold for US$ 250,075 inc. premium

American Art

22 May 2019, 16:00 EDT

New York

Stephen Hannock (born 1951)
The Oxbow, for Lane Faison with Betty and Agnes Mongan (Mass MoCA #147)
signed and dated 'Stephen Hannock 2011' and inscribed with title (on the reverse)
polished mixed media on canvas
72 x 108in
Executed in 2011.


  • Provenance
    Private collection, Connecticut.
    with Collisart, LLC, New York.
    Acquired by the present owner from the above.

    New York, Marlborough Gallery, Stephen Hannock, Recent Paintings: Vistas with Text, April 25-June 2, 2012, no. 3, pp. 10-11, illustrated.

    By utilizing unique techniques and permeating his work with personal
    experiences, Stephen Hannock's impressive body of work depicting
    majestic scenes modernizes a longstanding history of American
    landscape painting. The effect of Luminist lighting, first established by the Hudson River School artists of the 19th century, envelops many of the artist's dramatic landscapes and is a central element of his celebrated series depicting The Oxbow, a curved portion of the Connecticut River in Northampton, Massachusetts. Capturing a scene first famously painted more than a century and a half earlier by Thomas Cole (1801-1848), the leader of the Hudson River School, examples from Hannock's Oxbow series are now found in major institutions across the United States. The Oxbow, for Lane Faison with Betty and Agnes Mongan (Mass MoCA #147) is the second largest example from this series.

    According to Stephen Hannock, the present work is "the largest Oxbow painting I've painted with the lone exception in the collection of, and recently hanging in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Oxbow: After Church, After Cole, Flooded (Flooded River for the Matriarchs E. & A. Mongan), Green Light, 2000)... [The Oxbow, for Lane Faison with Betty and Agnes Mongan (Mass MoCA #147)] is the first major painting to include photographic images as well as text woven throughout the painting." (unpublished letter, March 2019) Included in the images at the center left edge is a daguerreotype by Chuck Close (born 1940) of Hannock's late wife, Bridget, a tribute that was first included in the present work and recurs in his later Oxbow paintings. Another photograph at center shows the artist sitting on the rail at the Skinner Park Lookout. Hannock comments, "It was from Skinner Park that Thomas Cole made his original drawings of the Connecticut River Oxbow in the 1830s. In the background of the photo behind me one can see the real Oxbow. This, and the diaries though out the painting are a response to Cole's self-portrait in his painting. Cole never lived in Northampton. I lived there for 17 years. This point is the reason my Oxbow compositions are frequently referred to as self-portraits." (unpublished letter, April 2019)

    One hallmark of Hannock's technique found in the present work is its polished surface. He utilizes a power sander to polish down layers of paint and gel medium to create a translucent surface. The surface also incorporates various textures from rough brushwork and handwritten notes, which convey the artist's thoughts like diary entries while other lines of text add location directions to the geography. Hannock's execution of the present work is the subject of a documentary, Dreamscapes (2012), as well as a short film by Wolfram Hissen, where Hannock translates the inscriptions woven through this composition.

    The titles of Hannock's work often acknowledge the artist's inspirations and mentors. The title for the present work honors Lane Faison and the sisters, Betty and Agnes Mongan. The Mongans were both art historians who held prominent museum roles, whom Hannock knew and was inspired by for 25 years. Faison was also a revered art historian, professor, and director of The Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, Massachusetts. In 2003, Hannock moved to Williamstown in large part to be close to the Faisons.

    The glowing Luminist lighting from the sunset in the present work inspired Hannock to paint another Oxbow painting that is in the collection of Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut (The Oxbow, Flooded, for Frank Moore and Dan Hodermarsky, 2013). Other examples from the series can be found in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts; Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, Massachusetts; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas; and elsewhere.

Saleroom notices

  • Please note this work was included in an exhibition entitled Stephen Hannock, Recent Paintings: Vistas with Text at Marlborough Gallery in New York in 2012. It is illustrated in the exhibition catalogue as number 3 and featured on pages 10 and 11.
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