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 Percival De Luce  (1847 - 1914)

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Lived/Active: New York      Known for: domestic genre, portrait and still life painting

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Percival De Luce
An example of work by Percival De Luce
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following information, by Marilyn Miller and dated June 29, 2008, was published in the i Wicked Local WELLFLEET, newspaper of Wellfleet, Massachusetts.

Barbara Lovett was the showstopper Saturday at the transfer station.

It was the day of the 15th Annual Friends of the Wellfleet Dump sale, where townspeople were asked to bring their best items in to sell to other townspeople to benefit the Wellfleet Swap Shop Ecology Scholarship Fund. The award is given to a Wellfleet graduating senior who is attuned to environmental issues.

On a normal day, all items are free of charge.

Lovett’s contribution was an oil painting dug out from the basement in her grandfather's home.
“My grandfather was a member of the Salmagundi Club” she said, referring to a club in New York City that has been a center for American art since the 1870s. The members were businessmen who collected art and her grandfather was a member in the 1920s.

She had planned to sell the ornate wooden frame that held the painting. That is, until a man perusing the items for sale told her the painting was worth at least $1,000.

"I didn't know what it was," she said. "It's an original oil that was in the family and I never took it seriously."

"Barbara started a bidding war for that painting,” said Harriet Korim, one of the founders of the sale.

Lydia Vivante, another promoter, had worked in a gallery on Long Island, and looked over the painting. Lovett believed the painting was the work of A.A. Millar, but Vivante told her that while Millar's name was on the frame, he most likely was the dealer who had sold it to her grandfather. The real artist, Vivante said, was Percival De Luce, whose name could be seen in the top left hand corner of the paper.

Vivante rushed home and did a bit of research on the Internet, and returned with a printout about De Luce and his works.

By the time the sale ended at 3:30 p.m., a high bid of $500 had been offered for the painting. But Korim and Vivante said they would hold onto the painting, and do a bit more research before closing the deal.

The big problem, said Korim, was that the sale was on a holiday weekend and they could not get much information about De Luce and what his works are worth.

After more research on Monday, they learned the last De Luce painting, much larger than the one Lovett brought to the landfill, was sold at Christie's 10 years ago for $14,000. That painting was called Tidings from Sea, and showed a family around a table reading a letter probably from a father or brother who was a sailor. One of the figures in that painting looked a lot like the young lady portrayed in Lovett's painting.

"We're wondering if she was De Luce's daughter,” Korim said. "Or if he used the same model for both paintings."

Korim said they told the two top bidders for the painting that they are holding off for the time being. They raised about $1,000 Saturday, not counting the painting. The plan is to reopen the bidding to at least the two top bidders and possibly other interested parties, “and we'll have a sealed bid opening," she said.

“If we do fetch a lot of money for it, we plan to set up an endowment fund so that we don't have to rely on just the money we raise at this yearly sale for a scholarship,” Korim said. “And we'd like to think about offering a prize to whatever Outer Cape school and teacher do the most interesting work on environmental issues in the elementary and middle schools, too, not just a graduating.

Biography from Butler Institute of American Art:
Born New York City February 26, 1847; died New York City February 21, 1914.

Education : Antwerp Academy with Portaels, in Brussels with Bonnat and in Paris.

Member : Associate member National Academy of Design; American Water Color Society; Salmagundi Club.

Exhibits : Salmagundi Club Interstate Exposition.

Holdings : Indianapolis Art Academy.

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