Oct 07, 2021 - Sale 2581

Sale 2581 - Lot 4

Price Realized: $ 10,000
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 5,000 - $ 7,000
WILLIAM A. HARPER (1873 - 1910)
Untitled (Landscape).

Oil on thick cardstock, circa 1907. 324x387 mm; 12 3/4x15 1/4 inches. Signed in oil, lower right.

Provenance: estate of the artist; private collection, Decatur, IL (circa 1922), thence by descent, private collection, VA. The owner's great grandmother acquired this painting from the Harper family in Decatur. A number of oil paintings by William A. Harper were exhibited at the Decatur Art Institute in January of 1922.

William A. Harper likely painted this beautiful landscape on his second trip to Paris when he studied with Henry Ossawa Tanner. Like landscape painters Edward M. Bannister and James Bolivar Needham, William Harper was also born in Canada. His family moved from Cayuga to Illinois in 1885, and Harper attended the Art Institute of Chicago from 1895-1901, working as a night watchman and janitor to pay for his tuition. He studied in Paris first from 1903-1905 at the Académie Julian like Tanner. In 1905, the talented Harper earned the Municipal Art League's blue ribbon at the Art Institute of Chicago for nine of his paintings. Harper's career was cut short when he died of tuberculosis only a few years later at the age of 36. The Art Institute held a memorial exhibition in Harper's honor, showcasing 60 of his works. His paintings are found today in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Gallery, the Smithsonian American National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Tuskegee University and Dr. Walter O. Evans.

Thank you to Janet Nussbaum for her assistance with this painting with her extensive research of William A. Harper and the provenance of his paintings. Barnwell p. 157; Kennedy p. 119.