1889 George Hitchcock Oil Diptych
They were originally in a hotel that my grandfather owned, and the hotel got sold, and I think my aunt took them, his daughter. And they were in her house. I think the painting might have been just one painting, and I think my aunt could have had a lot of gumption and cut them in half, but I'm not sure, and that's why I brought them in to you today, to see if you think at one time, it was one painting and not two. I think these girls are beautiful. They're in my bedroom and I love looking at them.
Well, they're certainly beautiful, unquestionably, and they're by George Hitchcock. These paintings are executed in oil on canvas, the medium that he used most often. One of my favorite stories about him is that he actually went to Harvard, trained to be a lawyer.
Oh, I didn't know any of that!
Didn't work out, he quit.
Oh, to be a painter?
To be a painter, every parent's worst nightmare, right? What's interesting about these is a few things. As you've already pointed out, it's two pictures. You'll notice down here that it's signed "George Hitchcock" and it's dated "1889," and in 1887, he won a gold medal at the Paris Salon. It's right after he's gotten really famous. So at this point in his career, he's already left the United States and he doesn't come back, and these would have been done in the Netherlands, as you can tell by the headdress on the two lovely ladies here. Your question I think is a very interesting one because it's unusual for him to have done a picture this big if it were one picture, but I think there's an important bit of information that leads us to believe that it is in fact two paintings deliberately. It's signed and dated here, but also over here.
Right, in the basket.
It's hard to read, but it's signed in the basket a second time. If you were an artist and you're going to do one painting, it's highly uncommon to have signed both sides. So that is really a big indicator that it did start as two pieces. Now, the composition does trail from one side to the next, right? The flowers she's holding here, it does move over here. So they were certainly done at the same time, and they're what we would call a diptych, done as a pair, and probably for a situational purpose, you know, that it fit in an exact space where they would be on either side of maybe a doorway or a specific piece of furniture. We're not sure. At auction, conservatively, we would put the value at $50,000 to $70,000.
(gasps) That's terrific! I'm excited. Thanks!
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