James Ensor and John Henry Twachtman in American and European Art  

James Ensor and John Henry Twachtman in American and European Art

Blog | May 2, 2018
John Henry Twachtman

The May 24 American and European Art auction at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers includes highlights from James Ensor and John Henry Twachtman.

James Ensor, Chinoiseries – Chinese Vases and fans, c. 1908-10

james ensor chinoiseries
LOT 116 | James Ensor (Belgian, 1860-1949) Chinoiseries – Chinese Vases and fans, c. 1908-10 oil on canvas signed Ensor (lower right) 19 x 11 7/8 inches. Property from The Estate of Elvire and Lucien Levy, Sarasota, Florida. Estimate: $80,000-120,000

This oil painting is an authentic Ensor, created from the same subject as an earlier painting (Chinoiseries, 1880, Catalogue Raisonné nr. 153 – belonging to the Franck Collection). After 1900, the artist was getting more and more famous, even outside of Belgium. Many of his early works had already found a new owner. For that reason, and maybe because some collectors were asking for replicate versions, the artist made a series of secondary oil paintings modeled off of his early paintings, mainly between 1908 and 1910. Chinoiseries – Chinese Vase and Fans, belongs to this series and is a second version of a painting realized in 1880. In some cases, and probably to make small distinguishing variations, the artist changed the size of this version. Where in the initial composition the top of the vase and the fan were cut off, he added those elements with some background and minor detail changes to this version.


This work is accompanied by a letter of authenticity from Mrs. Sabine Taevernier, President and Secretary of the Ensor Advisory Committee, along with Permanent Advising Members Mr. Herwig Todts, Mr. Michel Draguet and Mr. Xavier Tricot.

james ensor signature
LOT 116 | detail of signature (lower right)

Xavier Tricot, James Ensor, sa vie son oeuvre. Catalogue raisonné des peintures, Brussels, 2009, catalogue no. 153

John Henry Twachtman,
The Back Road, c. 1890-99

john henry twachtman the back road
LOT 30 | John Henry Twachtman (American, 1853-1902) The Back Road, c. 1890-99 oil on canvas signed J H Twachtman (lower right) 30 x 22 inches. Estimate: $80,000-120,000.

Lisa N. Peters, Ph.D., writes:


John Henry Twachtman (1853–1902) created The Back Road during his Impressionist phase, a time when he was living in Greenwich, Connecticut (1889–99) and deriving inspiration from his immediate surroundings. Conveying the Arcadian spirit of his art in these years, the painting features a landscape harmoniously balanced between the human and the natural. It demonstrates the avid interest in Japanese woodblock prints that Twachtman shared with his close friends J. Alden Weir and Theodore Robinson.


Eliminating the foreground and employing a high horizon line, Twachtman emphasized the totality of the design over a recession into space. He cropped the leaves of trees in both the foreground and background to form a protective canopy over the scene. In the left distance, the red-orange gable and chimney of a farmhouse come forward counterbalancing the movement of the road toward the distance. The work’s location could be the countryside of Branchville, Connecticut, where Twachtman often visited Weir, and depicted similar views in pastel and oil of curving roads and small farmhouses.


In his Greenwich period, Twachtman developed a distinctive method of paint application, rendering surfaces with densely woven color applied with rhythmic brush movements. Here he used a more typical Impressionist method of short dabs and broken strokes, perhaps to capture the transitory effects of the sunlit day. The painting evokes the style of Twachtman’s friend Childe Hassam, who also visited Weir and created Branchville views.

LOT 30 | detail of signature (lower right)

The Back Road was presumably the painting of this title included in Twachtman’s solo show held in April of 1901 at the Cincinnati Art Museum. By 1915, Childe Hassam had acquired the work; he lent it to Panama-Pacific International Exposition, San Francisco (Hassam and Twachtman were among the eight American artists featured in their own galleries at the exposition.) The painting’s next owner was Candace Catherine Stimson (1869–1944), a granddaughter of the artist and design innovator Candace Wheeler (1827–1933) and the surgeon Lewis Atterbury Stimson (1844–1917); her brother was the statesman and politician Henry Stimson (1867–1950). Candace Catherine Stimson, an 1892 graduate of Wellesley College, lived in New York City and never married. She sold the painting to Milch Galleries, which handled most of the work from Twachtman’s estate from the 1920s through the 1940s.



The American and European Art sale will be conducted Thursday, May 24 at 10am CT. Visit the auction page for more details, to view lots online and browse the digital catalogue.

Join Our Mailing List
back to top