|American Masterpieces from Dryads Green Gallery
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Artist Name: Henry Hobart Nichols,Jr.
Artist Dates: 1869-1962
Painting Title: Birch Wood Clearing
Painting Date: 1936
Medium: Oil on canvas
Provenance: Private Collection
Condition: Very Good
Size Unframed: 30 x 36
Frame Condition: Antique Rail Good
Artist Best Price: $24,150
Offered At: SORRY SOLD
Curator's Comments: Birch Wood Clearing is a late masterpiece from Henry Hobart Nichols,
Jr. whose almost 100-year life span saw him paint increasingly rich renditions of the forests along
the Hudson near Bronxville, N.Y. His most important works from this period are in the collections
of New York City's Metropolitan Museum and the National Academy Design; and in Washington at
the Phillips Collection, the Smithsonian, which holds three, and another is in the White House.
He was elected an Associate of the National Academy of Design (NAD) in 1912, and full
Academician status came eight years later in 1920. He was a Director of the Tiffany Foundation for
30 years. From 1939 to 1949 he was the President of the NAD, and remained President Emeritus
from 1949 until his death in 1962. It was the NAD, using a fund established under the great tonalist
Henry Ward Ranger, which donated Nichols' masterpiece, Across the Valley, to the Smithsonian.
Born in Washington, D.C., Nichols made his home in New York City until 1910, when he moved out
to Tuckahoe, and a year later to Bronxville. He would live in the Bronxville vicinity for almost a
half century, working in association with others of the so-called Bronxville painters, including
Ernest Lawson and Bruce Crane. Prior to 1910, Nichols went to Paris where he studied at the
Academie Julian after training at the Art Students League under Howard Helmick. Many of
Nichols' paintings are local views along the Bronx River in autumn and winter. Nichols would take
the NY Central's Harlem line home from his shows at Grand Central Galleries, and often further
on to Cornwall, in northwest Connecticut, the home of his younger brother. He knew best the
woods of the lower Hudson and the upper Connecticut rivers and roads. Indeed, one of Nichols
largest canvases, which hangs in the Bronxville Public Library, was done in Cornwall. Nichols was
also a Salmagundi painter, and another of his late-period masterpieces, a superb natural rendition
in shades of brown that is reminiscent of Birch Wood Clearing, hangs at the Salmagundi Club in
New York, where we are registered lay members. We believe Nichols' later paintings are superb
and are frequently held in permanent collections, making them quite scarce.
In Birch Wood Clearing, we see links to the strong, view-framing tree trunks of Across the Valley.
Nichols focuses on the massive birches in the painting's foreground, emphasizing their age and
mature beauty. They are the long-lived survivors that have emerged from the mass of smaller woods
across the clearing. Nichols focused on the scene in both a small sketch and then a small oil called
Autumn Forest, but the overall sensation of natural dominance is also seen in the Pot Hunter and
Poaching. The trees owe their stature to the clearing's light, which they have won, almost as painters
themselves. They are the perfect expression of the beauty of their own natural being, which Nichols
has captured with his own skills at the peak of their vision and technique. This is another painting
that we are truly proud to offer.
Framed in a gilt-edge, minimal-profile, slender, arts and crafts frame with rounded corners.
Autumn Forest (18 x 14) brought $2,600 in 2006
N ichols 9 x 11 early sketch
Poaching (18 x 22 brought $13,000 in 2007