Description: Leslie Prince Thompson (American 1880-1963), "Cup of Tea" Oil on canvas painting, not dated (20th century). 30" X 25", Signed lower right. Shaped and Carved Gilt wood Frame. A young woman in black Spanish shawl looking at tea leaves in a cup from a table laden with fruit. Provenance: Estate of James Speyer; sold Parke-Bernet, New York, April 1942, no. 186); Sothebyâ€™s, New York American Art Sale, May 29, 1981 lot #31. Exhibited: Boston, The Guilt of Boston Artists. One of Bostonâ€™s most celebrated portrait painters, Leslie Prince Thompson was also an influential instructor at the cityâ€™s Museum School, where he taught for 17 years. Throughout his long career he remained apparently unaffected by the currents of modernism that circulated around him, and advocated a seemingly simple approach to painting: Painting is seeing in the right way and putting on canvas what you see, no more, no less. And I mean really see, too. Most people donâ€™t see at allâ€¦.The layman is determined to find a symbol there; he isnâ€™t willing to sit and lookâ€¦ [M.J. Curl, â€œBoston Artists and Sculptors Talk of Their Work and Ideals: Leslie P. Thompson,â€ Boston, January 9, 1927]. Whatever they may have lacked in novelty, Princeâ€™s well-crafted portraits never suffered for lack of critical appreciation. Mr. Thompsonâ€™s 20 pictures in this tradition make a distinguished, well-bred roomful. No monkey shines, mind you, but the kind of pictures to live with over the years. The kind of painting to enjoy for its hearty brushing of juicy pigment, for its summary indication of fabric and textures in hair, flesh and jewels, the feeling of confidence the observer has in the artist at the handle end of the brush and in his ability to draw and to model directly in color the solid volumes of the living thing. [Irma Whitney, â€œLeslie Thompson Portraits at Guild Reflect the Best Bostonese Tradition,â€ Boston Herald, April 2, 1939] Unlike the ups and downs most artists experience at one point or another during their lifetimes, Thompsonâ€™s steadfast dedication to his chosen craft rewarded him with critical acclaim that endured throughout his long career: There is no painter in Boston today better equipped to stand this test [of having his works assembled and compared to those of other worthy artists] than Mr. Thompson, whose talent is of a very high and personal order. His collection of twenty-one pictures must rank among the very best yet seen at the Guild. Especially do the eight figure pieces entitle him to a distinguished place among American painters of this genre. They are sterling performances, not sensational, not eccentric, and not ultra-modern, but having absolutely sound and permanent qualities of good art, which make them beautiful, interesting and memorable. [â€œMr. Thompsonâ€™s Pictures,â€ Boston Transcript, January 26, 1915].
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