American Masterpieces from Dryads Green Gallery
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Artist Name:     John Francis Murphy
Artist Dates:     1853 - 1921       
Painting Title:   October Afternoon
Painting Date:   1897    
Medium:           Oil on Canvas           
Signature:          Signed Lower Right  
Provenance:      Private Collection
Condition:         Good          
Size Unframed:  14 1/8  x  22 1/2      
Frame Condition: Antique   
Artist Best Price: $93,500  
Offered At:            SOLD
Artist Name:      John Francis Murphy
Artist Dates:      1853 - 1921       
Painting Title:    At the Pond
Painting Date:    1901    
Medium:            Oil on Canvas           
Signature:          Signed Lower Right  
Provenance:       Private Collection
Condition:          Very Good          
Size Unframed:  13 7/8  x   21 3/8  
Frame Condition: Antique Excellent  
Artist Best Price: $93,500  
Offered At:         SORRY SOLD
Curator's Comments: Murphy was the master tonalist, and the favorite in our collection. What
attracts is the purity of his tonalism that glows, but without artificiality—the pure tonal unity is
incredible and no hue is false. The term
plein aire hardly does credit to his incredible wind-blown
autumn sky-work. Murphy typically prepared his canvases early to give time for the underpaint to dry
and then applied brown, pink and gold, or grey and silver pigment, which he flattened with a palette-
knife as a basis for later stages of rubbing (with pumice), lacquering and glazing. This is where the
salmon-gold gleam in the sky of
At the Pond comes from, and it is also seen in other Murphy
masterpieces, including
Sundown (1886), The Path to the Village and Sprout Lake (1915), the last-
named being one of five of Murphy's works in the Smithsonian.

He was a New York-stater (from Oswego in the Finger Lakes), in the tradition of Reckard and Wyant.
And Wyant's presence in the summers at Arkville in the Catskill Mountains between 1889 and 1892
had a very pronounced influence on the largely self-taught Murphy, who painted with him there and
for many summers after. Following several very successful exhibits, Murphy was nominated to the
National Academy in 1887, and won a Gold Medal in 1910. He married Adah Clifford, from Saratoga,
New York, a landscape miniaturist, who exhibited widely and later taught alongside her husband in the
Catskills. Other influences were the American George Inness and the French Barbizon School,
meaning Corot, Rousseau and Daubigny. Murphy did travel to Europe, and Zellman in 300 Years of
American Art called Murphy the American Corot, ranking him as one of America's most important
painters of the poetic landscape.
Zellman noted that Murphy "preferred to work in a palette of pink and green," which caused us some
wonder until we acquired
At the Pond, giving our collection a brilliant work in his cerise tinted gold
tone, and a fitting match for
October Afternoon's silver. We acquired the work from a Detroit trust,
where it had resided for forty years or more.  According to Zellman, Murphy's most successful oils
date from 1900-1916, and we believe we are offering two of his masterpieces. We think Samuel Isham
caught Murphy's intent in his
History of American Painting, writing of these masterpieces, "their
sense of tone and tint delights in broad stretches of finely modulated color."
At the Pond is in
excellent condition, with brilliant gold-streaked pink and cerise hues, that vibrate throughout the
painting. The magnificent antique frame has been fully restored. This is an important early work that
glows with summer just as
October Afternoon is also alive with its sense of autumn gusts.
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