Sep 17, 2020 - Sale 2542

Sale 2542 - Lot 16

Price Realized: $ 7,500
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 5,000 - $ 8,000
Portrait of May Valentina Stern Harlow ("Narcissa").

Oil on wood panel, 1886. 485x380 mm; 19 1/8x15 inches. Signed and dated in oil, lower left recto.

This painting will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of Eastman Johnson's work being compiled by Patricia Hills.

Ex-collection Isaac Stern, New York; thence by descent to current owner, private collection, New York.

This painting was commissioned as a gift for the sitter's father, Isaac Stern (1844-1910), when the sitter turned 4 years old. According to the inscription on the painting, there may be a portrait of her sister, which would have been paired with this painting. May Stern (née Harlow) was born into New York high society during the Gilded Age. Her father was one of the founders of the regional department store chain Stern Brothers, which was in business in New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey for more than a century. Her brother, Robert, who modified his surname to Stearns (1888-1954), was the co-founder of the investment bank Bear Stearns in 1923. A portrait of the sitter's mother, Virginia Michels Stern (1862-1927) painted in 1868 by Jules LeFebvre (1836-1911) is currently in the collection of the Museum of the City of New York.