Percival Rosseau (1859-1937)
New England, 1935
signed and dated "Rosseau 1935" lower left
oil on canvas, 28 1/4 by 34 1/4 in.
titled and inscribed on back
This iconic painting is possibly the most widely published and well known of Rosseau's extensive body of work. It was made into a three-dimensional print for the Federal Cartridge Corporation, now Federal Premium Ammunition, and hung in sporting goods stores across the country as an advertising display.
Rosseau was born near Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 1859. Although considered a premier painter of sporting dogs, he did not pick up a paintbrush until the age of thirty-five. After leaving an eclectic business career, including stints as a cowboy and a lumberjack, he sailed to Paris to attend the Académie Julian. His entry at the 1904 Paris Salon, a painting of a pair of Irish wolfhounds, gained him pivotal acclaim. He returned to the United States where he found a ready market for his work among wealthy sportsmen and received many commissions from first-rate breeders of pointers and setters. Rosseau’s best works capture the tense action of hunting dogs and depict them in romantic landscapes.
Among these patrons was Percy Rockefeller, nephew of oil tycoon John. D. Rockefeller and a successful businessman in his own right. Along with several investors, Rockefeller built Overhills, a private hunt and country club with stables and kennels in Cumberland County, North Carolina. He kept a cottage on the property for Rosseau to use when he traveled to the state, and the artist painted there throughout the 1920s and 1930s.
Dog historian A. F. Hochwalt writes, “Eventually such men as Samuel G. Allen, Harry D. Kirkover and others who own high class shooting dogs began to cultivate his acquaintance, for artists who can portray the pointer and the setter, as he really appears in the field, those who are able to transfer to canvas an actual hunting scene where the dog is not a mere caricature, are few and far between the world over, but particularly so here in America."
Rosseau’s debt to the Barbizon tradition is apparent in “New England" with its softly defined brushstrokes, rich colors, and pastoral setting. A copy of the associated print is included with the lot, and the alert pointer and setter are likely from Rosseau's own kennel.
Provenance: Private Collection, New Jersey, acquired in the 1970s
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