Philip Leslie Hale (American, 1865–1931)
Lady in White Holding Lilacs
Signed and dated 'PHILIP HALE/1896' bottom left; also inscribed illegibly verso, oil on panel
6 x 8 1/8 in. (15.2 x 20.6cm)
The Estate of the Artist.
The Artist's daughter, Nancy Hale Bowers, Boston, Massachusetts.
Acquired directly from the above.
Private Collection, New Jersey.
Philip Leslie Hale is considered one of the most important members of the "Boston School" of Impressionists, and developed a solid reputation as both an artist and a critic. Born into a prominent Boston family, he studied at Boston's School of the Museum of Fine Arts and New York's Art Students League before departing for Paris. There, he studied at the École des Beaux Arts and the Académie Julian. Hale's French years were decisive in that he steered away from traditional academic painting, to fully embrace Impressionism. This bold move was further strengthened by his close friendship with Theodore E. Butler – Claude Monet's son-in-law – whom Hale visited frequently in Giverny, among the French Master's lush gardens.
This work and the following (Lots 25, 26 and 27), all fresh to the market and directly acquired from the artist's daughter, are typical of Hale's fresh and joyful style. Executed en plein-air, most likely in Giverny (Monet's haven, where Hale used to spend most of his summers starting in 1888), they capture with rapid powdered touches the dazzling light of the French countryside. Replete with pastel-like colors, each work "trembles" under the freely vibrating touch of Hale, marked by small distinct dabs of pure, unmixed colors. In the following outdoor scenes, the artist is able to suggest intense rays of sunlight dancing on a riverside (Lot 26), splashing against the diaphanous dress of a lady (Lot 27), or penetrating the leaves of a bushy tree (Lot 25). As a result, the viewer stands in awe before a group of delicate, ethereal paintings in which the subject-matter virtually dissolves in a sea of points of light, evoking Seurat's famed pointillist touch.
More conventional in its execution, Lady in White Holding Lilacs also reflects Hale's talent at seizing the floral beauty and sensibility of his models, and translating it into an insightful and striking portrait.
Sold for $22,500 (buyer's premium included)