JAMES BOLIVAR NEEDHAM (1850 - 1931) Untitled (Sailboat on Chicago Waterfront).
Oil on linen canvas, mounted on wood panel, 1900. 229x216 mm; 9x8 1/2 inches. Signed in oil, lower right recto. Inscribed within a diamond "8 1/2x9 inches" and "1900" and dated "July 4" in orange paint, verso.
Provenance: private Maine collection, acquired at a recent estate auction.
Early Chicago artist James Bolivar Needham is known for these small paintings of the city's lakeside docks. Needham was born in Chatham, Ontario, Canada, a terminus point of the Underground Railroad. He left at the age of 14 and worked his way to Chicago on lumber schooners, via Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. His brother Will Needham recalled that he spent some time at the Chicago Art Institute - yet there are no records to support this claim. Needham has only had one documented exhibition - in a Central Art Association show in 1895. He worked in obscurity throughout his lifetime. A retrospective was held at Robert Henry Adams Fine Art, Chicago, February 28 - March 20, 1998, and several of his paintings included in the 2004 exhibition Chicago Modern 1893 - 1945 at the Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago. Schulman p. 132-34.