Auctioneers and Appraisers

William Bradford (American, 1823 - 1892) Arctic Sunset with the Ice Bound Panther.

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American Furniture & Decorative Arts - 2482
Date / Time :
November 08, 2009 11:00AM


William Bradford (American, 1823 - 1892)

Arctic Sunset with the Ice Bound Panther. Signed and dated [18]75 l.r. Oil on artist's board, 9 x 13 3/4 in., in original ornate gilt-gesso frame. Condition: Very good, uncleaned, light scratch on left, minor craquelure, frame rub upper and left edges.

Provenance: A note affixed to the reverse of the frame is inscribed: "For Minnie Ida Reynolds/Painted by Wm Bradford for my New Year's present-/Jan. 1st 1876."

Provenance: According to family lore, this painting passed from Minnie Reynolds through the family to the present owner. Minnie Ida (Conant) Reynolds (1867-1952) was the daughter of Prelet Drake Conant (Sept. 23, 1833-March 23, 1900) and Jane Monroe Rounds (1825-December 16, 1905), a wealthy socialite couple living in Fall River, Massachusetts. Prelet was involved in insurance, real estate, and stocks and was a justice of the peace. He was one of the directors of Laurel Lake Mills, a textile mill in Fall River, which operated from 1881 to 1931. Jane was a patroness of the arts and she hosted gatherings with local artists, including William Bradford. Even as a child, Minnie greatly enjoyed and appreciated art, so much so that at a New Years party held by her mother on January 1, 1876, William Bradford gave her a painting of his as a gift. Minnie was only eight years old at the time. Minnie later married Ralph Reynolds. They never had any children, and Minnie doted on her grand-nephew William Sidney Bateman, Jr. (1899-1967), the grandson of her sister Mary Jane Conant Neill. On her death, Minnie bequeathed her William Bradford painting to him, who passed it down to the present consignor.

Note: William Bradford began his career painting ship portraits in New Bedford, Massachusetts, across the harbor from his birthplace of Fairhaven. In 1861 he traveled to Labrador to study and paint icebergs. He returned to the Arctic several times, and in 1869, he set out on his most ambitious voyage. With the financial backing of a New York businessman, Bradford chartered his own bark, the Panther, a converted sealing vessel and enlisted the help of two Boston photographers who documented the trip, while he sketched and painted. The result was hundreds of sketches and more than 300 photographs of arctic scenes, 141 of which were included in his 1873 book, The Arctic Regions, published in London. His body of work that resulted from his Arctic voyages gained Bradford worldwide acclaim, so much so that Queen Victoria commissioned him to paint an Arctic scene that was shown at the Royal Academy in 1875. Afterward he traveled extensively giving lectures and slide shows about the Arctic. He eventually opened a studio San Francisco to paint the natural wonders of the American West, but it is his Arctic scenes that remain his legacy.

Estimate $80,000-100,000


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