Lot 341

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William Woodward (American/Louisiana, 1859-1939), "Madame John's Legacy", 1914, Rafaelli crayon on board, signed and dated lower right, signed, titled and inscribed en verso, 14 3/4 in. x 20 in., framed . Provenance: Estate of Naomi Marshall; Tim Foley, New Orleans; Collection of Noted Preservationist and Aesthete Dorian M. Bennett, New Orleans. Note: Through his paintings of New Orleans, William Woodward was intent on capturing the French Quarter in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, both its architecture and the vanishing customs of the Creole people who inhabited it. Woodward depicted street scenes with iconic structures such as "Madame John's Legacy" offered here, as well as private homes and commercial buildings. His intent – to preserve a moment in time of a city that was constantly changing – yielded important works of art that capture much more than a period photograph by incorporating Woodward's skillful handling of the vibrant medium with his sense of romance for New Orleans. This series of works, while not primarily an architectural record, laid the foundation for the local preservationist movement soon to follow in the French Quarter. One of the few surviving 18th century building complexes in Louisiana and one of the best examples of French colonial architecture in North America, the original structure of Madame John's Legacy managed to survive the 1794 fire in the French Quarter unscathed. There is some debate regarding the loss sustained in the prior 1788 fire. The owner, Manuel de Lanzos, instructed his American contractor, Robert Jones, to recycle as much brick and iron hardware as possible from his damaged house, suggesting that enough of it survived the fire to be included in the rebuilding. Whether entirely rebuilt in 1788 or a restoration of a previous structure, the house retained the French colonial style that prevailed before the disaster and is now designated an official National Historic Landmark. The house’s name was inspired by George Washington Cable’s 1874 short story “‘Tite Poulette,” in which the character Monsieur John bequeaths a Dumaine Street house to his mistress, known as Madame John. Though older parts of the French Quarter were once dotted with similar structures, today very few houses like Madame John’s Legacy remain. Woodward, who often created several slightly varying works portraying the same scene, included a 1902 etching of Madame John's Legacy in his book, French Quarter Etchings of Old New Orleans, published in 1938. The permanent collection of the Louisiana State Museum holds a larger painting of Madame John's Legacy by Woodward, while one other depiction is known to be held in a private collection. Interestingly in the view offered here, Woodward forgoes the inclusion of the horse-drawn cart seen in the other views in favor of a vendor depicted in the open doorway of the lower level with additional varied figures along the walkway. This choice allowed the architecture of the famous building to take center stage in the more closely centered and carefully constructed composition. Ref.: Bragg, Jean and Susan Saward. Painting the Town: The Woodward Brothers Come to New Orleans. New Orleans: Jean Bragg Gallery, 2004. Hinkley, Robert. William Woodward: American Impressionist. New Orleans: MPress, 2009. Woodward, William. French Quarter Etchings of Old New Orleans. New Orleans: Franklin Printing Company, 1938. Byrnes, James B. Early Views of the Vieux Carre. New Orleans: Isaac Delgado Museum of Art, 1965.

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September 12, 2020 11:00 AM CDT
New Orleans, LA, US

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