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       
Signature:            
Signed           
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 Nichol’s 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.

N ichols 9 x 11 early sketch
Poaching (18 x 22 brought $13,000 in 2007
Autumn Forest (18 x 14) brought $2,600 in 2006
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.
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