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Mary Elizabeth Price (American, 1877–1965), , Mille Fleurs (A Thousand Flowers)

Mary Elizabeth Price (American, 1877–1965), , Mille Fleurs (A Thousand Flowers)

Item Description:

Mary Elizabeth Price (American, 1877–1965)
Mille Fleurs (A Thousand Flowers)
Signed 'M. ELIZABETH PRICE' in a cartouche bottom left; also titled verso, oil with gold ground on canvas
30 x 50 in. (76.2 x 127cm)
Executed circa 1915.
Private Collection, New Jersey.
A gift from the above in 1999.
Private Collection, Massachusetts.
While she depicted a rich variety of subjects, Mary Elizabeth Price made a name for herself by painting decorative floral panels and screens, which she rendered in a close-up, yet painterly manner, as shown in the two following lots. Price started to explore the genre in the late 1920s and continued onwards, using the countless irises, peonies, poppies, lilies, delphinium and hollyhocks that grew in her lush garden at "Pumpkinseed Cottage" in New Hope as her main source of inspiration. Through her captivating still lifes, Price revived an old technique of Italian Renaissance painting. Like the Florentine and Sienese artists of the 15th century, she used a bold palette of oil colors, which she richly applied to a gilded surface of gesso (sometimes covered by no less than sixteen different shades of gold and silver leaf), preliminarily incised with intricate designs.
Price created many floral compositions similar to Mille Fleurs (Lot 93), combining the full, soft round heads of hollyhocks, poppies, pansies and roses, with elongated flowers such as the delphinium, or gladioli, two spikier plants with star-shaped flowers. Here, the artist is treating the canvas as a unified composition, presenting a lush garden expanding to the sky, which becomes barely visible. The flowers – literally a thousand, per the title - bloom in diverse warm colors, ranging from soft pinks and coral tones, through yellow and red hues, to dark maroons and purples. Shown foraging among the higher flowers, a butterfly, a hummingbird and two chickadees stand out. Rare in Price’s oeuvre, the animals add to the uniqueness of the work, giving us the impression of stumbling upon an enchanted garden. This whimsical vision of an Eden frozen in time is accentuated by the gold background, which reveals the influence of Art Nouveau and the Arts & Crafts Movement in Price’s career - as exemplified by the similarly impressive silver background in Amaryllis (Lot 94).

$ 60,000.00 ( Low est. )
Lot 93 in American Art & Pennsylvania Impressionists
AUCTION DATE: Dec 6, 2020 at 2:00pm EST



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