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William Leigh
(1866-1955 New York, NY)
"Zuni Bread Maker"
Oil on canvas laid to waxed canvas
Unsigned
8" H x 7" W

Provenance: Goldfield Galleries, Los Angeles, CA
Nedra Matteucci Galleries, Santa Fe, NM

Notes: A letter of authenticity from June DuBois, dated November 26, 1989, accompanies the lot.

William Robinson Leigh was born on September 23rd, 1866 on Maidstone Manor Farm in West Virginia. At 14 he attended Maryland Institute, one of the oldest art colleges in the United States, and continued his studies abroad at the Royal Academy in Munich. After 12 years abroad, Leigh returned home and began work as a cyclorama painter and illustrator. The indelible relationship between the painted image and the narrative necessary for illustration seeps into his contributions to fine art, creating works that beautifully convey a story to the viewer.

This work, a study for 'Baking Day/Zuni Baking,' may have been painted as early as Leigh's first trip to the Southwest in 1906. The process of traveling to the pueblos meant Leigh could only take smaller canvases and minimal supplies so this diminutive painting would have been done on-sight to be used in a larger work once he returned to his New York studio. The figure with her bright red sash is fully engaged in her work, bent over at the waist tending to the horno oven while supplies lie in wait. A second figure in the background appears to be kneading the dough that will eventually be baked once the oven has reached the perfect temperature. The communal aspect of breadmaking is rendered here for the viewer, emphasizing the coming-together of women to create something their families can all enjoy together. The quickness of his brushstrokes, necessary for a study done at the spur of the moment, adds to the charm of the work as it immortalizes this everyday task.


  • Condition: Visual: Generally good condition. Fine craquelure scattered throughout. Minor frame abrasion along the four edges.
    Blacklight: Apparently no restoration under blacklight. Difficult to read under varnish.
    Frame: 15.5" H x 14.25" W x 1" D

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September 8, 2019 12:00 PM PDT

Monrovia, CA, US

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