Lot 302    

Portrait of "Mayme" Bull Within River Landscape by Paul Sawyier,
Summer Fine and Decorative Art Auction / June 6, 2009
watercolor on paper, initialed in the lower left. This wonderfully intimate portrait of "Mayme" Bull, set in a river landscape, appears almost to be an escape for the couple, and certainly for Sawyier, who found comfort in Kentucky quiet rivers and creeks. It is interesting to note that the piece was only initialed, atypical of Sawyier, but probably because of the nature of the painting. it was almost certainly a gift to the artist's lover; 13" high x 9" wide (sight).

Accompanied with the painting are "Mayme" Bull's monogrammed gold bracelet and a pair of photographs, in which the resemblance is unmistakable.

Descended directly in the family of Mayme Bull


Cowan's is pleased to offer the following important collection of paintings by artist Paul Sawyier. The five Sawyier paintings offered here were originally owned by Mayme Bull (presumably gifts from Sawyier), and descended in the Bull family to Mayme's niece, Elizabeth Bull Howard (likely through Mayme's sisters). The paintings were bequeathed to the current owner, a close friend of Elizabeth's.

Paul Sawyier (1865-1917) was born the son of a physician in Madison County, Ohio, but his family relocated to Frankfort, Kentucky when he was young. Paul’s early inclinations towards art were cultivated by his parents, and in 1884 Sawyier enrolled in the Cincinnati Art School. Within two years, he opened a studio in Cincinnati. In New York, Sawyier studied under William Merritt Chase at the Art Students League. Sawyier returned to Cincinnati and studied under Frank Duveneck. He then returned to Frankfort where local subjects became his focus, and it was here he developed his particular aptitude for watercolor. Between 1908 and 1913, Sawyier spent several years living on a houseboat on the Kentucky River painting his surroundings. At the 1893 Columbian Exposition Sawyier and his work achieved a level of popularity, and he, unlike most of his Kentucky contemporaries, embraced Impressionism. Proud of his status as a professional artist, Sawyier generally refused to engage in other pursuits even when money was short (which it often was). In 1913, Sawyier relocated to Brooklyn, New York, living with his widowed sister. Years later, he moved to the Catskill Mountains where he died in 1917.

Paul Sawyier first met Mary "Mayme" Bull (1865-1914), also of Frankfort in 1887,. While the two became engaged, they never married (a result of their caring for their aging and ailing parents and Sawyier's constant financial instability). Little is known of their relation because Sawyier's sister burned all of the couple's correspondence upon the death of her brother.

References: Arthur F. Jones, The Art of Paul Sawyier (Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky Press, 1976)
Only minor perimeter toning.
Sold: $27,025.00
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