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  • Provenance

    Janet Lawrence Adams, Chicago (acquired directly from the artist)
    Robert McCormick Adams, Jr., California
    Thence by descent to the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    Since its creation circa 1949, Joan Mitchell’s Untitled has been in the private collection of the Adams family of Chicago who owned several works by the artist. Attorney Robert McCormick Adams and his wife Janet Lawrence Adams acquired the painting directly from the young Joan Mitchell, a childhood friend of their children and the daughter of their family friends - dermatologist James Herbert Mitchell and poet Marion Strobel Mitchell. The Adams and the Mitchells ran in the same elite professional circle; their children grew up together and attended the Francis W. Parker School, a progressive high school in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. The Adams children, Janys, Robert, Kyle and Mervyn, socialized with Joan and her sister Sally. The families’ paths crossed throughout their lives, including at the opening events at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, where Mitchell reconnected with her old schoolmate Robert McCormick Adams Jr., a noted anthropologist and then-Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.

  • Artist Biography

    Joan Mitchell

    Known for her highly emotive gestural abstraction, Joan Mitchell was one of the most prominent members of the second generation of Abstract Expressionists. Mitchell painted highly structured, large-scale compositions featuring vibrant, violent bursts of color and light, often influenced by landscape painting and informed by her emotional understanding of the world around her. Mitchell was one of the only female artists of her generation to achieve critical and public acclaim, and her work was featured in the famous Ninth Street Show of 1951, which introduced the world to the emerging American avant-garde. 

    Mitchell was a devoted student of art as well as a talented painter; she developed an intimate understanding of color through her admiration of the work of Henri Matisse and Vincent van Gogh and adapted the gestural abstraction of her day to create an art form completely her own, and continued her investigation of abstraction for the rest of her career. Her work has influenced subsequent generations of artists and is featured in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, Tate Modern, and many of the world’s most distinguished institutions. 

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Property from the Estate of Robert McCormick Adams, Jr.



signed "J. Mitchell" lower left
oil on canvas
28 5/8 x 36 in. (72.7 x 91.4 cm.)
Painted circa 1949.

$80,000 - 120,000 

Sold for $118,750

Contact Specialist
John McCord
Head of Day Sale, Morning Session
New York
+1 212 940 1261
[email protected]

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session

New York Auction 14 November 2018