Walter Kuhn American 1877–1949 Young Woman with Crown and Cornucopia or Golden Horn, 1937 Oil on canvas Signed and dated lower left: Walt Kuhn 1937 40 H. x 30 W. in. Framed: 47 ½ x 37 ½ in.
Estate of the Artist
Sale/Christie’s, March 11, 1993
Private Collection, NY
Literature: Walt Kuhn Painter, His Life and Works, Phillip Rhys Adams, Ohio State University Press: Columbus, page 264, # 357; oil on canvas, 40 x 30 inches, signed ll. Walt Kuhn 1937. note: a fully developed watercolor, H. 17 1/2” W 10”, is titled “Horn of Plenty”.
An early promoter of modern art in America, a founding member of the Association of American Painters and Sculptors, and the organizing force behind the iconic Armory Show of 1913, Walt Kuhn was unique, standing apart from the mainstream of American art. At a time when art was becoming more abstract, Kuhn remained committed to representation. His portraits of circus and vaudeville entertainers are amongst his most memorable, including our Golden Horn from 1937. Our example is powerful and confidently painted. Reminiscent of the actor portraits executed by French artists centuries earlier, this work is solid, almost sculptural in its depiction and typical of Kuhn’s painting style of portraying single figures. A skilled painter of still lifes, Kuhn is best remembered for his portraits. Our young woman seems detached from what is going on around her. Placed against a mottled green background and holding a cornucopia while wearing a crown, this figure seems cheerless and out of place. Dignified and solemn in her expression, she stares intently out at the viewer, perhaps trying to connect on some symbolic or psychological level. Her face seems to hide the hardships of what she has endured and yet with the outsized golden horn of plenty tucked under her arm there is the promise of better days to come.
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