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Lot 0002
Property from a New England Estate
Richard Edward Miller (American, 1875-1943)
Woman at her Vanity with Earring, 1910-1914
Oil on canvas
36 ¼ x 28 ½ inches
Estimate: $150,000-350,000
Provenance: Directly from a Rhode Island Estate
Best known by the clear vividness of color and decorative approach to each subject, the work of Richard Edward Miller reveals an awareness and adoption of key elements of French Impressionism, yet also an inherently unique style of painting. A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Miller commenced his artistic training at the local School of Fine Arts and served as staff illustrator for the St. Louis Dispatch. He continued his studies at the Académie Julian in Paris from 1898 to 1901 before becoming a chief instructor for the rival Académie Colarossi shortly thereafter. Established in Paris during the latter half of the nineteenth century, the Colarossi aimed to offer another alternative to the more rigid, conservative structure of the École des Beaux Arts. Following his post as teacher, Miller spent time in Giverny, France painting at the home of Monet with fellow expatriate Frederick Frieseke.[1] Sharing similarities in aesthetic, both artists employed the use of repeated diagonals of figures and furniture in their light filled scenes. His skill and distinctive approach to painting won him the Temple Gold Medal at the 1911 Pennsylvania Academy Exhibition, the Thomas B. Clarke Prize for the best American figure painting at the 1915 National Academy of Design Annual Exhibition and the award of Chevalier of the Legion of Honor of France.[2]
During the period in which Miller painted Woman at her Vanity with Earing, he became famous for his compositions that “are vividly if pleasingly green, relieved always by the presence of flesh and light summer gowns, and invariably somewhere a touch of red.”[3] This painting truly exemplifies his most iconic work, revealing the use of delicate color in high lights and the shading into greens and purples instead of browns to achieve a fresh, clear atmosphere. Miller’s exposure to the teachings and stylistic characteristics of the various French Académies, combined with time spent painting with Monet and fellow members of the Impressionist Movement in the forests of Giverny, resulted in his aim to take the best aspects from every school and imbue them with his own modern spirit. He based the foundation of his work on the following motto, “Art’s mission is not literary, the telling of a story, but decorative, the conveying of a pleasant optical sensation.”[4] As a result, Miller conveys a nearly tangible sense of the freshness and airy sunlight of summer in this “candy-like” composition.
[1] Emery Battis, American Impressionism: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2000).
[2] “The Annual Exhibition: The National Academy of Design,” Art and Progress Vol. 6, No. 7 (May 1915), 225; George A. Hearn,” New York Times (December 7, 1913).
[3] Wallace Thompson, “Richard Miller – A Parisian-American Artist,” Fine Arts Journal Vol. 27, No. 5 (November 1912), 712; “American Painters Show Rich Canvases,” New York Times (April 13, 1912).
[4] Thompson, “Richard Miller – A Parisian-American Artist,” 711.


This painting has survived in an excellent state of preservation. This work does not have any in-painting. Can see original varnish under UV light. Retains original lining. Signature on bottom left, but bottom 25% is covered by the liner of frame which covers 2 ½ inches of the canvas.

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Richard Edward Miller (American, 1875-1943)

Estimate $150,000 - $350,000Jan 31, 2016