Lot Sale Results

Paul Peel

Paul Peel

Paul Peel
Canadian, Impressionist & Modern Art Live auction

Lot # 148

Paul Peel
OSA RCA 1860 - 1892 Canadian

Orchestra Chairs
oil on canvas
signed and dated 1892
58 x 75 3/8 in  147.3 x 191.5cm

Estate of the Artist
By descent to Isaure Verdier Peel, 1892
A gift to Mildred Peel (Lady Ross)
Dr. Alfred J. Peel, Ross estate executor, 1922
Theodore Pringle Loblaw, Toronto, circa 1922
Sold sale of Estate of T.P. Loblaw, Ward-Price Auctioneer, June 1933
W. Joseph Newton for the Loblaw Foundation, Toronto
Given as a gift to Toronto Western Hospital, in memory of T.P. Loblaw (member of the board of governors, 1926 - 1933)
Sold sale of Important Canadian Art, Sotheby's Canada in association with Ritchie's, May 28, 2007, lot 140
Private Collection, Ontario
Sold sale of Canadian Art, Joyner / Waddington's, November 22, 2010, lot 75
Property from an Important Private Collection to Benefit a Charitable Foundation

"Canvas by Great London Artist on Exhibit at Western Fair," The London Free Press, September 14, 1937, reproduced
Victoria Baker, Paul Peel: A Retrospective, 1860 - 1892, London Regional Art Gallery, 1986, reproduced page 167

Art Institute of Chicago, United Annual Exhibition of the Palette Club and the Cosmopolitan Club, January 24, 1895, catalogue #82
Paul Peel Exhibition, Ashland Block, Chicago, September 1895
Western Fair, London, Ontario, 1937
London Regional Art Gallery, Paul Peel: A Retrospective, 1860 - 1892, September 6 - October 26, 1986, traveling to other Canadian museums and art galleries, catalogue #75

Orchestra Chairs is among the last paintings completed by Paul Peel in his Paris studio, at 19 rue Raffet, before the artist’s premature death in Paris in October 1892, aged 32. This sunny composition of carefree childhood may have been inspired by Peel’s 1891 summer spent at his Danish in-laws’ cottage near Copenhagen, with his young wife and children - Robert André, age 5, and Marguerite Emilie, age 3. An 1891 oil study, Good Morning, in the collection of the RiverBrink Art Museum, which depicts a little blonde girl looking through a window, sun at her back, may be a preliminary idea for Orchestra Chairs – specifically, the child to the far right.

In 1893, the artist’s widow and children moved with the contents of Peel’s studio to Chicago. Here, Orchestra Chairs was first exhibited as part of the United Annual Exhibition of the Palette Club and the Cosmopolitan Club at the Art Institute of Chicago in January 1895, and in September 1895 in a Paul Peel solo exhibition held in the then recently inaugurated Ashland Block Building. The appeal of the painting to Middle American viewers was reflected in a local review:

“Something to be remembered for many days is the quaint creation “Watching for the Stage Coach,” or as the artist himself called it, “Orchestra Chairs.” It shows a group of children who have gathered on the roadside for a coach to go by. They are stopped in their progress by the fence, upon which they climb and rest. The larger ones find seats, the smaller can only peep through. They are the raggedest, happiest little mortals that ever an artist painted. They are shoeless, stockingless, ragged as to the brims of their hats, but they are monarchs of what they survey. There is a dog in the group, a long-eared fellow, with head somewhat on one side, who seems not the least interested spectator there. The reproduction gives but a faint idea of the picture, the charm of it being in the color, the atmospheric effects, the general air of freedom from all that is false in nature. It comes nearer being of the luminous school than any other work in the collection.”

Within the aesthetic context of late nineteenth-century Realism, Peel reinvigorates a common Victorian sentimental subject through greater attention to the visual realities of outdoor light and atmospheric conditions on forms. Under the hot summer sun, the palette naturally freshens, forms flatten, and anecdotal details, so important to an earlier generation, are suppressed. The atmospheric naturalism of Orchestra Chairs builds upon a decade of outdoor painting experience gained by the artist in rural Brittany and Normandy. The flattened pictorial perspective suggests an understanding of non-perspectival spatial effects gleaned from photography, used by Peel as an aide-mémoire. Yet the progressive elements of the painting, apparent to the 1895 viewer, are less obvious to the twentieth-century eye, caught by the sweetness of the happy subject of children. The differences are better appreciated by comparison with Peel’s better-known studio posed and lit genre paintings, such as The Spinner (1881, collection of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts) or The Little Shepherdess (collection of the Art Gallery of Ontario), painted in the same year.

Orchestra Chairs remained with the Peel family until 1922, when it was purchased from the estate of the artist’s sister, Mildred Peel, by Theodore Pringle Loblaw, of Canadian grocery store fame (who would also acquire The Young Biologist, 1891, in the collection of the Art Gallery of Ontario). Significantly, the acquisition of Orchestra Chairs coincided with Loblaw’s adoption of his wife’s three-year-old orphaned niece. The painting became a cherished possession around which the Loblaws reportedly built an addition to their palatial Toronto home, Bonnyview (since demolished). When Loblaw died in 1933, it was donated in his memory to the Toronto Western Hospital, where he had served on the board of governors.

We thank Victoria Baker, author of Paul Peel: A Retrospective, 1860 – 1892, for contributing the above essay.

Please note this work was exhibited at The National Gallery of Canada, 2011 - 2012.

Estimate: $250,000 ~ $350,000 CAD

Sold For: $181,250.00 CAD (including buyer's premium)

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