Oct 05, 2017 - Sale 2456

Sale 2456 - Lot 4

Price Realized: $ 341,000
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 200,000 - $ 300,000
Flight into Egypt.

Oil on linen canvas, circa 1910. 590x952 mm; 23 1/4x37 inches. Signed in oil, lower left.

Provenance: Cramer collection, Chicago; private collection, Santa Fe, New Mexico; Gerald Peters Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico (with the label on the frame back); private collection, Connecticut (1993). A photograph of the painting is in the Henry Ossawa Tanner papers in the American Archives of Art, Smithsonian Institution. On the verso, "Flight into Egypt by H. O. Tanner Paris" and "In Cramer Collection, Chicago" is hand-written in ink. (See the illustration below.) The Cramer collection is likely that of Mr. and Mrs. Ambrose Cramer of Lake Forest, Illinois, who were prominent collectors, active lenders and members at the Art Institute of Chicago from the late 1910s through the 1930s, or their son, the architect Ambrose Coghill Cramer.

Exhibited: Twenty-Third Annual Exhibition of Oil Paintings and Sculpture by American Artists, the Art Institute of Chicago, October 18 - November 27, 1910. This painting was one of three Tanner paintings included - with The Three Marys, 1910, collection of Fisk University, and the now lost Behold, the Bridegroom Cometh (The Wise and Foolish Virgins), 1907-08.

This beautiful nocturne is one of Tanner's larger and later interpretations of his important series of paintings depicting the Flight into Egypt. At the time of Tanner's second trip to the Holy Land, in 1898-99, Tanner began painting his intepretation of the Biblical story. It soon became a favorite subject of the artist - a depiction of the Holy Family escaping on donkeys under the cover of night. According to Dewey Mosby, Tanner had already painted four or five different versions by 1909. Today at least fifteen known examples, dated between 1899 and 1932, are known, including works in the Detroit Institute of Arts (1899), the Cincinnati Art Museum (c. 1907), the National Museum of African-American History and Culture (1916), the Museum of Fine Arts Houston (1921) and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1923).

Flight into Egypt was also a popular subject for Tanner with American collectors. The 1923 Flight into Egypt, now in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art., was sold to Mr. and Mrs. John E. Naill of New York - reported in a February 9, 1924 issue of Artnews under the headlines "Collector Acquires a Tanner Painting". Tanner also exhibited other versions at Wanamaker's Art Gallery in Philadelphia and two in a solo exhibition at Vose Galleries in Boston in January, 1921. Records in the the Archives of American Art indicate Grand Central Galleries sold a large and small version of the subject in 1924 and another version in a traveling exhibition in Pasadena in 1929. A small version was also owned by the daughter of the important Atlanta collector J. J. Haverty, May Haverty and exhibited in Tanner's memorial exhibiton at the Philadelphia Alliance in 1945.

This tonal and painterly canvas is part of a group of nocturnal scenes painted between 1900 and the 1920s. These canvases are characterized with broad painterly passages and deep tones, made with Tanner's rich glazes of cerulean and cobalt blue. Mosby p. 51, 172 and 302; Marley p. 163, 188 and 288.