John was a child prodigy. The Impressionists did not however welcome him into their ranks because he was a pupil of Carolus-Duran who taught an academic classicism in Paris. John specialized in the society portrait. In 1884 he painstakingly painted the Portrait de Madame X which made a scandal by its plunging neckline. The artist was too far ahead of the couture fashion of the following century.
Disgusted by the failure of this artwork which he considered as his best painting he traveled to England in August 1885. Shortly after his arrival, he was injured in the head while swimming in the Thames, sufficiently seriously for a friend to require him to have some convalescence in the English countryside. The accident triggered a reorientation of his art.
John had visited Giverny just before and he was encouraged by Monet to paint outdoors. He conceived an ambitious composition showing two small girls in a garden in a contrasting light of late afternoon. This painting will be completed in the following year and titled Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose by reference to a nursery rhyme. It is a masterpiece of the artist and a turning point in his career.
On May 18 in New York, Sotheby's sells Poppies, oil on canvas 62 x 91 cm painted in 1886 in England during the preparation of Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose. It is estimated $ 4M, lot 8.
The colors are vibrant but the modernism lies in the theme and composition of this humble piece of grass slope, anticipating by four years the interest of Van Gogh in Auvers for wild flowers. Red poppies and other flowers are the only subject of this magnificent painting without further forefront and whose background is completely darkened in the excuse of the nightfall.
SOLD for $ 6.9M including premium
I invite you to watch the video shared by Sotheby's :