Joseph Cornell, ‘Untitled (Hotel Box with Vermeer Detail)’, ca. 1955, Sotheby's: Contemporary Art Day Auction

Signature: signed on a label affixed to the reverse

Betty Cornell Benton, New York (gift of the artist to his sister)
Gift of the above to the present owner circa 1975

About Joseph Cornell

Widely considered one of the seminal American artists of the 20th century, Joseph Cornell pioneered assemblage through his boxed constructions and collages. He is best known for his “shadow boxes” made from found materials such as marbles, toys, seashells, and other bric-a-brac obtained in souvenir shops, penny arcades, and trash heaps. Interests in 19th century Romantic literature, ballet, the Surrealism of Max Ernst, childhood experiences, and the cinema coalesced in Cornell’s allegorically charged work, which would influence generations of contemporary artists. Toward the Blue Peninsula (1953) is among his most recognizable works, which he made drawing inspiration from a view of the night sky in Emily Dickinson’s bedroom and a passage of her poetry. At once figurative and abstract, the box consists of a partially caged, empty space and a window onto a twilight sky.

American, 1903-1972, Nyack, New York