World Treasures: Important Russian, Asian, European & American Works
June 3rd & 4th, 2014
auction closed

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LOT 542
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Lot 542
MARVIN CONE (American 1891-1964)
Old Stone Quarry -circa 1933
Oil on artist board
Signed lower left "MARVIN CONE"
18 inches x 15 inches
Estimate:  $75,000 - 100,000   € 52,500 - 70,000
Price Realized: $118,750.00


Marvin Cone
To Mrs. Beth Miller, circa 1936
Jackson's Auction November 2003 where acquired by present owner


Sotheby’s New York Auction of November 29, 2013, Lot 34 would appear to be the finished work based on the offered lot and which is now housed in the collection of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas.

“Marvin was as good an artist as he was a man. This is the highest praise, for he was a wonderful man. Beautiful art is not made by ugly people. He had a harmony in his life as he did in his painting.” Paul Engle, friend of Cone and author of the foreword in "Marvin D. Cone, An American Tradition" by Joseph Czestochowski.

Marvin Cone, in contrast to his close friend and painting companion Grant Wood, did not fit the popular conception of an artist. Cone’s deliberate effort to try and capture what he felt was a rapidly disappearing aspect of the Iowa country side, was something which sprung forth from Cone’s desire to be a distinguished community artist, a concept often associated today with regionalism, however Cone, by his own definition, was not a regionalist. Unlike his close friend Grant Wood, he did not share Wood’s sense of mission about stylistic movements. In particular, Cone was not neccesarily sympathetic to regionalism, although he is frequently described as a regionalist painter. However for Cone, painting was strictly a personal pursuit, with little relationship to movements or stylistic trends.

The offered lot is one of several works that grew out of The Stone City Art Colony, founded in the summer of 1932. Both Cone and Wood were active forces in the colony, the Midwest’s answer to the various east and west coast artist colonies that were popular in the beginning of the 20th century. Serving as a retreat for aspiring artists to learn from their contemporaries, it was not the colony’s aim to create an American style or to impose a distinctive technique on others, but instead for the participant to arrive at a personal vision that expressed the nuances of his specific surroundings. The idyllic countryside and deep quarries were the perfect place to paint local scenery. Unfortunately, the Depression took its toll on the colony, closing it after only two summers.

Cone’s paintings of the 1930s, like the offered lot, epitomize his work. His landscape paintings are both powerful statements about nature, but also extremely personal in their sense of solitude and tranquility; Cone saw his landscapes as “optimistic symbols for a revitalized nation.” The offered lot, Old Stone Quarry, appears to be the sketch for the completed work which sold at Sotheby’s for $752,000.00 in 2013 and is now housed at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. As outdoor summer teaching was the cornerstone of the Stone City Art Colony, it is no surprise that contemporary Grant Wood also produced a very similar landscape from a slightly different vantage point, and very likely painted around the same time. Wood’s sketch (pictured lower right) is housed at the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, Iowa, while the completed Wood painting, Stone City, hangs in the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, Nebraska.

Joseph Czestochowski writes the following about Marvin Cone and Grant Wood: “Wood and Cone both reflect a fortunate confluence of personality and aesthetics in their work. Grant Wood would become one of this country’s best-known artists; Marvin Cone, because of the quality of his expression, deserves to be better known today.” Cone painted for himself. He didn’t seek the public recognition that Wood received, and subsequently he remained free of the uncertainty that periodically would plague Wood after his meteoric rise to fame. While highly respected by his peers, Cone was satisfied to be an artist involved in the local and regional art communities, living almost all of his 74 years in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. There he married, raised a family, and taught art for more than four decades at Coe College.

All items are sold “AS IS” and there will be no returns based on condition. The items sold are often of considerable age and will exhibit wear, usage and damage often not listed in the catalog entry. The absence of condition remarks in the catalog entry DOES NOT mean the item is in perfect condition. Prospective buyers are in ALL CASES responsible for determining the physical condition of lots. No employee or agent of Jackson's International Auctioneers and Appraisers is authorized to make on our behalf or on that of the consignor any representation or warranty, oral or written, with respect to any property. Therefore, if a prospective bidder has not examined the property to their satisfaction before the sale, or his/her agent has not inspected the property, Jackson's recommends that they not bid on the property. All dimensions are approximate. The condition of frames is not guaranteed.