Signed and dated lower right: Daubigny 1874
Arthur Tooth & Sons, New York, 1907
Mrs. Montgomery Sears, Boston, 1907
Emil Winter, Pittsburgh
Estate Sale of the above, Sotheby’s Parke-Bernet, 15 Jan 1942, lot 221, as “Breezy Day in Summer” (ill. p. 51).
Meyer Kruglik Collection, IL
Private Collection, IL
Hellebranth, Robert. Charles François Daubigny, 1817-1878 (catalogue raisonné) Editions Matute, Morges, 1976, p. 124, no. 380.
An exceptionally brushy and expressive late work by Daubigny, Lavandières au bord de l’Oise, has been part of highly important American collections. It was owned by Mrs. Montgomery Sears (Sarah Choate), an accomplished photographer, painter and art patron who was a friend of both John Singer Sargent and Mary Cassatt. Sears amassed an important collection of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and American paintings, and was credited with instituting the rage for Cezanne in America. Sargent completed portraits of Sears and of her daughter Helen, which now hang in The Museums of Fine Arts, Boston and Texas. The painting then passed, possibly via Knoedler, to Emil Winter of Pittsburgh, one of the great American collectors of Barbizon paintings. Winter (1857-1935) was president of the Workingmen’s Savings Bank and Trust Company in Pittsburgh and was head of a number of metal production companies. He had a large overseas plant in Austria, for processing manganese ore and was one the founders of the Pittsburgh Steel Company. Paintings, sculpture, silver, antique furniture and tapestries, and fine oriental carpets adorned his Pittsburgh estate, called Lyndhurst. When his collection was sold after his death at Sotheby’s Parke-Bernet in 1942, it included over 100 paintings by leading Barbizon and Realist painters, including Courbet, Corot, Rousseau, Diaz, Troyon, Dupré, Jacque, Lhermitte, Fantin Latour and Boudin.
Charles François Daubigny was born in Paris on February 15, 1817. His father and his uncle being painters of some reputation, Daubigny’s interest in art was encouraged from an early age. A sickly child, his parents arranged for him to live in the country in the small village of Valandmois. It was during these childhood years with the Bazots, his adopted family and lifelong friends, that Daubigny’s love of the rural landscape began. Daubigny’s earliest artistic experiences included the decoration of boxes and clocks and, at the age of 17, restoring paintings at the Louvre under the direction of Granet. His training was largely informal; his studies in the well-respected atelier of Sentie were interrupted by a year-long painting sojourn in Italy with his friend Henri Mignan. In 1840, he spent a brief period under the tutelage of the academician Paul Delaroche.
His earliest successes, as well as a means of financial support, were his etchings and illustrations. After winning his first Salon prize in 1848, the French government commissioned an etching from him after Claude Lorrain’s Abreuvoir. Daubigny’s first love however, was landscape painting and his fascination with water was evident judging from his Salon entries of the late 40’s and 50’s. Known for his spontaneity and broad painterly brushstroke, his work was often criticized for its sketchy quality. In the Montier Universel, a popular daily, the critic, Grunn, wrote on June 20, 1852, “Is M. Daubigny afraid of ruining his work by finishing it? . . . I have a better opinion of his talent and I am convinced that a man who has begun so well could not finish badly.”
Daubigny, unlike many of his contemporaries with whom he is closely associated due to their mutual concern with the study of nature, spent little time in the region of Barbizon. He traveled extensively in France, as well as to Spain and England. In 1852, Daubigny met Corot, and a long and enduring friendship, which included many painting excursions together throughout France and Switzerland, began. The painter was most drawn, however, to the landscape of Valandmois, the place of his childhood and the countryside of Auvers, where the artist would eventually make his home.
It was Auvers in 1857 that Daubigny launched his studio boat, the Botin, from which he would produce his memorable and popular paintings of the Oise. From this time, a difference could be seen in Daubigny’s work. His ability to capture the simple beauty of the countryside was unchanged, but his brushstroke became shorter and more confident. Though his work had finally found popular acceptance, criticism did not cease. In 1861, Daubigny’s unique style of painting would be assaulted by Gautier, who accused him of painting only an “impression.”
Daubigny’s position as a respected painter and prominent member of the artistic community was clearly recognized when in 1865, he was elected a member of the Salon jury. In this role, he was one of the few who recognized the talents of a new generation of younger artists, and his influence was key in the Salon acceptance of works by Pisarro, Monet, Sisley, Degas.
Daubigny died on February 19, 1878, and according to his wishes, was buried next to his friend Corot at the Cemetery of Pere Lachais.