Lot 128

Rice, Anne Estelle 1877-1959 American, Flowers


Rice, Anne Estelle 1877-1959 American, Flowers. 20 x 16 ins., (51 x 42 cms.), Oil on Canvas, Stamped verso AER and singed in ink by David Drey, the artist's son, the picture was almost certainly painted in the 1920s. Portrait of Anne Estelle by J.D.Fergusson, Hat with Bird, 1907. Central Panel of Wanamaker Panels by Rice, 1911.

Provenance: James O'Connor and David Drey organised an exhibition of Anne Estelle's work in the Fosse Gallery, Stow on the Wold in 1986, when each painting was stamped AER, because Rice had a habit of not signing her paintings. Only a few were actually signed by David Drey for this exhibition. Anne Estelle had previously held an exhibition at Browse and Darby in 1985. Rice had been almost completely forgotten in her own country, until a major exhibition of her paintings was held at the Hollis Taggart Gallery in New York in 1997, after one of the directors saw some information about an exhibition of her work held at Emscote Lawn School organised by Jonathan Riley and Gillian Drey. The gentleman was seated on the loo when he picked up Country Life and saw the article.

Since then she has been accepted as one of the colourists, though still does not receive the critical acclaim she deserves. Her paintings have been dominated by her relationship in Paris with that hugely overrated painter, JD Ferguson. People forget that Anne Estelle won the prestigious first prize at the Salon d'Autome ahead of Matisse and other famous painters twice. Her work in Paris was wonderfully vibrant and strong. She left to live in England after marrying an English art critic, Raymond Drey, in 1913. Fortunately her work remained strong and vigorous until the twenties, after which it began to tail off in vitality with the humdrum pressures of family life. Like so many married women artists of her day, such as Stella Steyn, it was very difficult to remain vital and inspired in a life dominated by domesticity.

Much misinformation has been written about Anne Estelle Rice. Anne Estelle was born at Conchohocken, Manayunk near Philadelphia. After a brief period of study at the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts, followed by work as an illustrator for the North American and magazines such as Saturday Evening Post, and book illustration, she was commissioned by Rodman Wanamaker of the Philadelphia Department Store to go to Paris with her friend Elizabeth Dryden, who for many years designed covers of Vogue, to deal with the Paris scene of opera, race meetings, ballet, theatres etc. The literary side of the commission was assigned to Elizabeth. The illustrations to her articles were the part of Anne Estelle Rice. The two girls worked harmoniously together on this assignment from 1906 evidently to the satisfaction of their employer, because two years later Anne was entrusted with the execution of eight huge mural paintings in the manner of Watteau for the Wanamaker shop, each measuring 30 ft. by 25ft.

Anne Estelle was a beautiful lively young woman who fitted into the Paris art scene very easily. Her friend and writer, Katherine Mansfield, described her as '.... bronze-coloured with light periwinkle eyes', and testified to the warmth of her personality, 'You know she is an exceptional woman - so gay, so abundant - in full flower just now and really beautiful to watch. She is so healthy and you know when she is happy and working she has great personal 'allure' - physical 'allure'. I love watching her. There are certain people who do make me feel loving, warm hearted, tender, and like children feel. Anne is one.' Anne painted a very good portrait of Katherine Mansfield which hangs in the gallery in Wellington, New Zealand.

Anne Estelle soon met and had a strong relationship with the Scottish artist, J.D.Fergusson, who had visited Paris for a number of years. It has been assumed that Fergusson was very much the dominant partner artistically

Auction Date: December 2016


£8000 - £12000

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