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Lot 0681
Clarence Millet
(American/Louisiana, 1897-1959)

"Courtyard of the Artist's Studio, 'Governor Claiborne House' at 628 Toulouse Street"

oil on canvas
signed lower right; together with original frame that has loan/exhibition labels.
30" x 24", framed 38-1/2" x 32"

Provenance: Dr. and Mrs. Joseph Sabatier, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, purchased from the artist; thence by descent.

Exhibited: Baton Rouge Little Theater, 9 May-18 May, 1957.

Literature: "Work of Millet on Exhibit at the Little Theater", State Time Advocate, 9 May 1957: 9

Notes: The courtyard of the "Governor Claiborne House" at 628 Toulouse Street, which Millet painted numerous times, is one of the most iconic scenes of the French Quarter. The Spanish-Creole-style courtyard with brickwork, covered porches/logge, fan-windows and banana trees that he painted from his studio has been lauded as a southern masterpiece of architecture, flora and lighting. The building's fan windows and courtyard, according to New Orleans' historian Arthur Stanley, "are probably the most photographed, etched and painted... in New Orleans, and there are many in the Vieux Carre." Millet's bravura for capturing the nuances of Southern lighting as it is reflected, pooled, even distilled by the humidity on edifices and landscapes is poignantly captured here in the early-mid morning light as it scintillates off the tops of the banana leaves and alights the masonry on the steps below in warm hues of taupe and beige. As art critic Carter Stevens writes, "Millet is closer to the wellspring of the Louisiana scene than any other artists …He must have absorbed all the sense and color of the earth, plant growth, tree forms and sky as a growing boy."

Since the late 19th century, the "Claiborne House" has been an edifice of New Orleans art and culture, and is believed to be the only one in the Quarter devoted solely to artist studios. Wayman Adams, "Pop" Hart, Morris Henry Hobbs, Charles Reinike and Albert Riecker all had studios in the building, and writers Roarke Bradford, Lyle Saxon and William March also maintained quarters there. Though Claiborne, the first governor of Louisiana, never lived at the property, the litany of other famous personages who did caused the misnomer that history has perpetuated for more than a century.

This stunning depiction of one of the most historically significant courtyards is equally matched by its provenance. Dr. Joseph Sabatier, who purchased the painting in the 1950s from the artist, was one of the physicians who attended Huey P. Long, former Louisiana Governor and Senator, after he was shot in 1935. Dr. Sabatier, who passed away in 2013, founded the Baton Rouge Clinic and was a former president of the Louisiana State Medical Society, the Alton Ochsner Surgical Society and the New Orleans Council on Aging's Board of Directors. He also was a former chairman of the Tulane University Emeritus Club.

This painting, which descended in the family, was exhibited in 1957 at the historic Baton Rouge Little Theater.


In overall very good condition. No visible signs of past restoration. A linear accretion at lower right corner to edge of planter.

Buyer's Premium

  • 25%

Clarence Millet (American/Louisiana, 1897-1959)

Estimate $20,000 - $40,000May 19, 2019