Ignacio de León y Escosura (Spanish, Oviedo 1834–1901 Toledo)
Oil on canvas
22 3/8 x 31 5/8 in. (56.8 x 80.3 cm)
Gift of the artist, 1883
Not on view
Inscription: Signed and dated (lower left): Leon / y / Escosura 1876
Ignacio de León y Escosura, ?Toledo (1876–83)
Museum of the City of New York. "The Artist in New York," April 17–September 1, 1958, unnum. checklist (as "Auction Sale in Clinton Hall, Astor Place").
Albuquerque Museum. "Prelude to Spanish Modernism: Fortuny to Picasso," August 21–November 27, 2005, no. 15.
Dallas. Meadows Museum, Southern Methodist University. "Prelude to Spanish Modernism: Fortuny to Picasso," December 11, 2005–February 26, 2006, no. 15.
George A. Lucas. Journal entry. July 6, 1883 [published in Lilian M. C. Randall, "The Diary of George A. Lucas: An American Art Agent in Paris, 1857–1909," Princeton, N.J., 1979, p. 567], mentions that León y Escosura was to send two paintings to the Metropolitan Museum of Art [probably including this one].
Harry B. Wehle. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of Italian, Spanish, and Byzantine Paintings. New York, 1940, p. 298, calls it "An Auction Sale" and identifies the scene as an auction at Clinton Hall, New York, in 1876.
"Auction Scene from the 'Seventies." American Collector 16 (August 1947), frontispiece, ill., calls it "Auction Scene from the 'Seventies" and notes that León y Escosura painted it during his American sojourn.
Mark Roglán et al. Prelude to Spanish Modernism: Fortuny to Picasso. Exh. cat., Albuquerque Museum. Albuquerque, 2005, pp. 12, 132, colorpl. 15, observes that the auction house is an extremely rare subject in Spanish painting; notes that if León y Escosura did travel to the United States in 1876 as indicated by the date of this picture, he was one of the first Spanish artists to paint in New York.
Clinton Hall stood at 13 Astor Place, above what is now the Astor Place subway station. The building originally housed the Astor Place Opera House, made infamous in the riot of 1849. From 1855 to 1932 Clinton Hall was the home of the Mercantile Library of New York, but in 1890 it was torn down and replaced by an 11-story building, which was converted to condominiums in 1995.