Bert Geer Phillips (American/NY, NM, 1868-1956) oil painting on wooden board, depicting a river bend in plein air style, using rapid strokes and vibrant color to capture a sunset on a lush river and trees landscape. c 1910. Signed in marker on the back side of the board. Sight: 13" W x 10" H. Framed: 17" H x 20" W. This painting is typical of Phillips' style, though clearly quickly painted: in places, the wooden board shows through the paint, adding that color to the mix. Because of the speed and unfinished appearance of the painting, this painting may have been a study for a later more formal product, or just a rapidly completed plein air sunset painting that remained unsigned by the artist because it was completed so informally. Bert Geer Phillips' paintings regularly sell at auction for many thousands of dollars, and he is a highly listed artist with paintings in private collections and museums around the world.
Provenance: Frame is new--solid wood.
CONDITION: Good condition, particularly for its age. The board is somewhat battered around the edges, which are hidden by the new giltwood frame. There are a few areas of horizontal paint loss across the bottom of the painting, probably due to the rubbing from another frame. There appears to be a scrape through the paint, in the center in the trees, which is repeated as a reflection in the water. Additionally, the scrape is partially painted over, indicating that these two marks aren't damage, but are original to the painting and as the artist intended.
Artist Bio: World famous as one of the founders of the Taos Society of Artists in 1912, Bert Geer Phillips, born in Hudson, NY, was trained in fine art at the Art Students' League in New York City. He was a dedicated artist even as a young man, and constantly sought out new instructors and material in order to develop his talents as an academic realist. He studied at the Julian Academy in Paris, where he met Ernest Blumenschein and Joseph Sharp. Sharp spoke passionately about the landscape and peoples of the New Mexico pueblos, urging the younger artists to travel to the southwest in order to find natural inspiration for their art.
Bert G. Phillips was the first of the early Taos artists to settle permanently in the remote mountain village, thus he is rightfully considered the founder of the Taos art colony. When Phillips first laid eyes of Taos in 1898 while traveling with his good friend Ernest Blumenschein, he knew immediately that Taos was to be his home. From that moment, he worked tirelessly to bring other artists to Taos, to make it possible for them to stay there, and to promote the idea of an art colony. Of the individuals who formed the Taos Society of Artists, Phillips was the one most deeply involved in his personal life with the town and pueblo, and never lost his romantic view of Taos. According to Blumenschein, “Phillips is the foundation on which the Taos group built!” (El Palacio, May 1926)
In the summer of 1912, Phillips along with Blumenschein, Couse, Sharp, Berninghaus, and Dunton joined to form the now famous Taos Society of Artists. At the time, Taos had no commercial galleries, nor many tourists, and it was felt that travelling group exhibitions would attract attention and sales in other parts of the country. The TSA was an instant success. The shows traveled to all the major art cities in America and received enormous publicity throughout the country. Replacements for sold pictures were being crated up and shipped out of Taos every week. Phillips lived and painted for most of the rest of his adult life in Taos, rarely leaving the landscape and its people, whom he loved, romanticized, and admired in equal measure.
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Bert Geer Phillips, River Bend oil painting