American, (1861-1942)
Choosing the Colors
oil on canvas
signed and dated lower right "Charles C. Curran, NA, 1923"

  • Provenance: Private Collection, New York; Shannon's, Greenwich, Connecticut, October 29, 2009, lot 86; Private Collection, New York.
    Charles Courtney Curran was born in Kentucky and raised in Ohio. He first studied at the Cincinnati School of Design before moving to New York City in 1882. In New York City he attended the National Academy of Design and the Art Students League. He exhibited his first painting at the National Academy in 1883 when he was just 23 years old. From 1888-1891 Curran studied at the Académie Julian in Paris. While abroad, he successfully exhibited works at the Paris Salon and at Durand-Ruel Gallery.

    In 1891, Curran returned to the States where he continued to enjoy success exhibiting at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, the National Academy, the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, the Louisiana Purchase exhibition, and many others. He was elected a full Academician in 1904. For 40 years Curran and his family would spend their summers in Cragsmoor, New York, a growing artist colony since the late 19th century. The artist and his family were very active in the community participating in summer social activities and helping to improve the town.

    The present lot, Choosing the Colors, painted in 1923, depicts a young woman carefully choosing ribbon from her basket. Likely painted in Curran's studio, the warmly lit interior gently illuminates the sitter's face and hands, and she casts her eyes down towards the tangled basket filled with colors and carefully considers her choice.

    Curran biographer Jane Ward Faquin notes, "…views of well-dressed women—whether reading, sewing, enjoying their children, playing with pets, or engaged in quiet contemplation—appear in the work of many of Curran's American contemporaries. Joseph De Camp's finely painted interiors attest to a strong resemblance between his work and Curran's, and although the works of Frank Benson and Childe Hassam differ considerably from Curran's art stylistically, all three artists used a strong light source to illuminate both the figure and a darkened room or background in their compositions, particularly during the period just before the war." Faquin also notes similarities in Curran's work to his Cragsmoor contemporary Helen Maria Turner.1

    Curran's work is in the permanent collections of the Terra Museum of American Art in Illinois, the Smithsonian Institution, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, the Witte Memorial Museum and Fort Worth Art Museum in Texas, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and many other national collections.
    1 Jane Ward Faquin with Maia Jalenak, "Charles Courtney Curran: Seeking the Ideal," (Memphis, Tennessee: Dixon Gallery and Gardens, 2014), pp. 76-77
    Framed dimensions: 31 x 27 x 2 1/2 inches

    tags: oil painting, portrait, listed artist
  • Dimensions: 22 x 18 inches
  • Medium: oil on canvas
  • Condition: relined canvas, slight crazing in the hair, in a quality reproduction frame

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by Shannon's
October 28, 2021 6:00 PM EDT
Milford, CT, US

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