DALLAS, TX.- Blue Bonnet Field, Early Morning, San Antonio Texas, a lush canvas of Julian Onderdonk's bluebell wildflowers, brought $515,000 — a record for the artist — at Heritage Auctions' $1.5+ Texas Art Signature Auction in Dallas. The Nov. 16 auction set a house record for the most valuable offering of Texas Art held to date. The work, along with two other Onderdonk masterpieces brought a combined $1.1 million as A Hillside of Blue Bonnets — Early Morning, Near San Antonio Texas reached $317,000 and On the Old Blanco Road, Southwest Texas ended at a strong $281,000. "The auction offered two of the best Onderdonk paintings ever offered on the open market," said Atlee Phillips, Director of Texas Art at Heritage Auctions. "Blue Bonnets at Sunrise had absolutely everything going for it. It was fresh to the market, large, in excellent condition, and the quintessential Onderdonk bluebonnet painting. One of this size and quality had not been available since the Onderdonk exhibition at the Witte Museum in San Antonio and the Dallas Museum of Art, highlighting his misty bluebonnet paintings which are heavily influenced by Tonalism.*
"It is no surprise such a painting would set a new World Record," Phillips said. "Julian Onderdonk is a great American artist, and there was significant interest in these paintings from outside the state, but at the end of the day Texas collectors were simply not willing to let them leave the state." (I am so happy this artist's works remain in Texas.
( The painting shown above was painted in 1916. If the weather allows, Bluebonnets will be profuse this year. Rain in September is essential for the spectacular display typically in April in Texas.BBL)
*From Wikipedia: Tonalism was an artistic style that emerged in the 1880s when American artists began to paint landscape forms with an overall tone of colored atmosphere or mist. Between 1880 and 1915, dark, neutral hues such as gray, brown or blue, often dominated compositions by artists associated with the style. During the late 1890s, American art critics began to use the term "tonal" to describe these works. Two of the leading associated painters were George Inness and James McNeill Whistler.
Tonalism is sometimes used to describe American landscapes derived from the French Barbizon style, which emphasized mood and shadow. Tonalism was eventually eclipsed by Impressionism and European modernism.