Catalog Essay | September 17, 2020 | Lot 110
Charles Courtney Curran was born in Kentucky and raised in Ohio. He first studied at the Cincinnati School of Design before moving to New York City in 1882. In New York City he attended the National Academy of Design (NAD) and the Art Students League. He exhibited his first painting at the NAD in 1883 at 23 years old. From 1888-1891 Curran studied at the Academie Julian in Paris. While abroad, he successfully exhibited works at the Paris Salon and at Durand-Ruel Gallery.
In 1891, Curran returned to the States where he continued to enjoy success exhibiting at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, the NAD, Exposition Universelle in Paris, the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, the Louisiana Purchase exhibition and many others. He was elected a full Academician in 1904.
For 40 years Curran and his family would summer in Cragsmoor, New York, a growing artist colony since the late 19th century. The artist and his family were very active in the community participating in summer social activities and helping to improve the town. Curran would “load his painting equipment into a child’s red wagon and head off to Bear Hill to work.”
From 1908-1910 Curran built “Winahdin,” a family summer home in Cragsmoor, New York. It was there that he painted the pastel colored landscapes for which he best remembered, including the present lot. Curran’s best works from his Cragsmoor years feature young, elegant women in bright sunlight. The subjects are typically perched on cliffs set against a dramatic sky. In Wind on the Cliff, a young woman the artist’s daughter Emily) stands with her wrap and skirt blowing in the wind, beside her a younger woman sits perched on the rock (a friend, Gene Lewis). The technique in this painting reprises the technique used in A Breezy Day (collection PAFA) which first brought Curran public notice and acclaim for his depiction of the effect of wind on fabric.
Curran’s work is in the permanent collections of the Terra Museum of American Art in Illinois, National Museum of Art, Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, the Witte Memorial Museum in Texas, the Fort Worth Art Museum in Texas, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Vassar College in New York and many other notable public and private collections.