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Lot 0152


Mary Elizabeth Price (American, 1877-1965)
Hollyhocks and Delphinium Screen
Signed 'M. ELIZABETH PRICE' in a cartouche bottom right, oil with gold and silver leaf on Masonite
Screen: 72 x 36 x 15 in. (182.9 x 91.4 x 38.1cm)
Image: 47 x 31 in. (119.4 x 78.7cm)
Framed by the Artist's brother, Reuben Moore Price.
Executed circa 1925.
Private Collection, New York, New York.
Acquired directly from the above.
Private Collection, Pennsylvania.
While she depicted a rich variety of subjects, Mary Elizabeth Price made a name for herself by painting decorative floral panels and screens, which she rendered in a close-up, yet painterly manner, as shown in the two present lots. Price started to explore the genre in the late 1920s and continued onwards, using the countless irises, peonies, poppies, lilies, delphinium and hollyhocks that grew in her lush garden at "Pumpkinseed Cottage" as her main source of inspiration. Through her captivating still lifes, Price revived an old technique of Italian Renaissance painting. Like the Florentine and Sienese artists of the 15th century, she used a bold palette of oil colors, which she richly applied to a gilded surface of gesso (sometimes covered by no less than sixteen different shades of gold and silver leaf), preliminarily incised with intricate designs.
Price's standing screens (spanning from one to six panels) and gilded frames were usually crafted by her brother, Reuben Moore Price, as is believed to be the case here. It provided the artist with the perfect vehicle for her decorative inclinations as the screens could be collected as furniture and not merely as paintings. Price created many floral compositions similar to the central panel of the present work, almost always combining the full, soft round heads of hollyhocks, with the delphinium, a spikier plant with star-shaped flowers. Here, the artist is treating the panel as a unified composition, extending over the stylized cartouche in the upper part of the composition. The hollyhocks bloom in diverse warm colors, ranging from soft pinks and coral tones, through peach and orange hues, to dark maroons and purples. The hollyhocks vividly contrast with the cool blues of the delphinium, at times hidden behind the bushy green leaves or instead gloriously standing against the golden textured background-a transcendental feature which strongly enhances the timeless quality of Price's panel and reveals the influence of Art Nouveau and the Arts & Crafts Movement.

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Mary Elizabeth Price (American, 1877-1965), ,

Estimate $50,000 - $80,000
$25,0000 bids
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Philadelphia, PA, USA
Auction Curated By:
Alasdair Nichol
Chairman, American Art & Pennsylvania Impressionists
Raphaël Chatroux
Associate Specialist | Fine Art Department, American Art & Pennsylvania Impressionists