William Gerdts, in his book For Beauty and for Truth: The William and Abigail Gerdts Collection of American Still Life : Catalogue, writes his own aesthetics of still life painting:
I was especially attracted to pictures of single objects. It seemed to me that the artist’s concentration must then have been at its most intense, given a minimal concern for both composition and decoration – that he or she must have wanted to “know” the subject in a unique manner.
Such is the case of a small still life painting “Peeled Orange” by Jonas Josepgh LaValley, which was auctioned at Doyle Auctions this Thursday.
Jonas Josepgh LaValley was a resident still-life artist in Springfield, MA in the late 19th and early 20th century. He was a barber who after six years of drawing and then eight years of painting after that, began to sell his paintings in his barbershop and eventually became a full time artist.
The peeled orange is about the same size of a real orange. His broad technique and painterly style does not overwhelm the overwhelm the tenderness and sensibility of the subject. The nuance of the light gives a convincing texture for the rough inner skin and the white impastos render each piece of orange a fragile freshness as if the momentary beauty would soon be consumed without appreciation.
La Valley is famous for his exuberant rendering of fruits, especially for his raspberry. One such a painting is offered by Stanton Auction today (lot 221). But I would still prefer that single orange, which both Geo and I agree a great piece of art.
Although the lot was the first item to be auctioned on Thursday, the competition became fierce between phone bidders. It was sold for $2000, much higher than its estimation ($800-$1200).