JOSEPH STELLA (1877–1946)
Two Wood Ducks on a Flowering Branch, about 1920–25
Pencil, crayon, and colored pencil on paper, 25 3/4 x 22 1/4 in.
Signed (at lower right): Joseph Stella
RECORDED: (possibly) Margaret Liebman Berger, Aline Meyer Liebman: Pioneer Collector and Artist (1982), p. 6
Two Wood Ducks on a Flowering Branch, though undated, shares imagery and similar compositional strategies with a silverpoint and crayon work of 1920–25: Lily and Green Squash. Although Stella’s naturalist subjects are precisely drawn, they have more in common with the work of Georgia O’Keeffe than with that of John James Audubon. Stella himself wrote that an artist’s goal was “to catch and render permanent (materialize) that blissful moment (inspiration) ... when he sees things out of normal proportion, elevated and spiritualized, appearing new as seen for the first time." These birds on a branch, an everyday occurrence which even city people can find, if they look, live on this paper through Stella’s gaze, “new” and “as seen for the first time.”