The original painting was sold at a major auction of Bridgman’s work in New York in 1899, and changed hands several times after that, most recently selling at Sotheby’s in 1998 for over $330,000. At that time, Sotheby’s provided this description of the painting:
Though Bridgman is best known for his Orientalist depictions of North Africa which were inspired by his mentor, he diverged from this subject matter later in his career. In the 1890s he began to paint landscapes and genre scenes including the present work, one of a group of paintings of tennis the artist completed during those years. Bridgman is known to have been a tennis player himself and his interest in the sport is expressed in this lively portrayal of a mixed doubles match.
Frederick Arthur Bridgman was a highly successful 19th century American painter, whose Orientalist and archaeological works “made his fortune and reputation as the outstanding American expatriate artist in the 1870s and 1880s.” Bridgman was born in Alabama and by the age of 16 was in New York City as an apprentice engraver. From 1867 to 1871 he was among the first group of American students at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris (Thomas Eakins was another) where he studied with the great academician Jean-Leon Gerome. He then began making paintings from his travels to exotic locations — the Pyrenees, North Africa and Egypt — and these works were featured in the annual Paris Salons. In 1877, after receiving the unusual honor for an American of an award at the Salon, he married and settled permanently in France. The following year he received the award of the French Legion of Honor for one of his paintings. His first solo New York show in 1881 was greeted enthusiastically by critics and collectors and he was elected to the American Academy of Design. Bridgman continued to be a prolific painter for the remainder of his life, and his works are represented in the world’s major art museums.
Albert Rosenthal was a painter, etcher, and lithographer from New Hope, Pennsylvania. He studied under his father, printmaker Max Rosenthal, with whom he issued a series of portraits of men prominent in American history beginning in 1884. He also studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and for three years under Gerome at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Returning to the U.S. in 1892 he became a portrait painter in Philadelphia and exhibited widely in the U.S.
Full publication information: “Published by M. Knoedler & Co., 170, Fifth Avenue, New-York. Printed by A. Salmom & Ardail, Paris. Copyright M. Knoedler & Co., 1892.”
Condition: Generally very good with only minor overall toning and wear. Few minor abrasions, restored. Very faint toning from matting, now matted out with a grey mat. Aesthetic Movement frame, possibly original, with the usual overall light wear and shrinkage.
Fielding, Mantle. Dictionary of American Painters, Sculptors and Engravers. Green Farms, Connecticut: Modern Books and Crafts, 1926, rev. ed. 1974 (Rosenthal, p. 309).
“Lot 73, Frederick Arthur Bridgman.” Sotheby’s. 3 December 1998. http://www.sothebys.com/app/live/lot/LotDetail.jsp?sale_number=NY7230&live_lot_id=73 (9 February 2011).
Zellman, Michael David, dir. American Art Analog. Chelsea House: New York, 1986. Vol. 2, 444; Vol. 3, p. 718.