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Frederick Ferdinand Schafer Painting Catalog

Painting record FFSd0928

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[photo] [Yosemite Valley sketch 2] (attributed)

Date: undated
Medium: oil on canvas
Size: 10 x 14 in (25 x 36 cm)
Inscription: none
Verso: u/l label on stretcher bar bearing the handwritten words "Frederick Schafer" in ink, in a hand resembling Schafer's characteristic block lettering. On frame, two labels of Bonhams & Butterfields.
Provenance: (From Bonhams & Butterfields catalog entry) "Private collection, Juneau Alaska"; with Bonhams & Butterfields, San Francisco, 26 June 2011 (attributed). With eBay, Incorporated, San Francisco, 14 August 2011 (attributed); with eBay, Incorporated, Orange, California, March 2012-May 2013; to private collection, Colorado, by October 2013.
Citations: 26 June 2011 sale catalog 19092, lot 4067
Attribution: The painting is unsigned, so attribution is problematic; it must be based on comparison of characteristics of the painting with corresponding characteristics typical of Schafer's other work. Several features argue in favor of the attribution. The paper label on the back bears a signature in ink similar to Schafer's block lettering style. The foreground trees are mostly in clusters, an unusual characteristic found in a half-dozen of Schafer's Yosemite paintings. The palette is typical. The foreground is finished but the background mountains are barely sketched in, again a typical Schafer characteristic.

There are also several arguments against the attribution. In contrast to Schafer's usual style, the painting does not use illumination to emphasize a central focus. The scene is meticulously neat, with none of the usual debris or snags. The rendering of the waterfall seems awkward. There are only four picture planes with minimal connection among them. The canvas texture shows through in most areas, with impasto only in a few places. In the verso photograph the canvas shows little evidence of age. The lower stretcher bar appears to have been replaced, and a small area on that stretcher bar has been obscured with a marking pen, raising a question of what lies underneath.

The painting appears to be a sketch, which could explain some of the unusual stylistic features. On balance, and pending further information, the evidence weakly suggests that the painting is by Schafer.

Site: Classic view of Yosemite Valley, with Bridal Veil Fall and Cathedral Rocks on the right and El Capitan on the left, from the Mariposa Trail.
Note: The Bonhams & Butterfields sale catalog gives the size as 10 x 13.5 inches.
Identification: Assigned, descriptive title, from the 26 June 2011 sale catalog.

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Feb 13, 2017, 11:05 MST