Eric Sloane’s “Early Bird” Takes Flight on June 29th

Early Bird

On June 29, 2017, PBA Galleries will offer Early Bird, an original oil painting on wood panel by the American landscape painter Eric Sloane. Although, PBA occasionally has auctions of fine art, including illustration art, the painting will be on the block during a sale of Americana, World History & Exploration, and Natural History offerings.

The striking oil painting, 23″ high x 30 3/4″ wide was painted in the early 1940s. It depicts a biplane soaring through the clouds, most likely flying over Long Island Sound and Roosevelt Field, New York. Sloane was known to have spent significant time at Roosevelt field where he painted. He taught Wiley Post to paint and in return, Post taught Sloane how to fly where he developed his love of the clouds and sky. Amelia Earhart was an early admirer buying his first “cloudscape.” He is famous for his sky and cloud paintings (said to be the finest of his generation) in addition to his American landscapes. His largest skyscape is a six-story mural commissioned by the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum, Earth Flight Environment, painted in 1976.

Sloane painted over 15,000 works, wrote 38 books and was an avid collector of Americana. The Sloane Stanley Museum in Kent, CT has re-created his studio including his paint-splattered easel and rows of jars jammed with paint brushes. The museum also houses his early American hand tool collection. His interest in weather and the farmer’s ability to interpret “weather signs” led him to become the first television weatherman where he had farmers from all over New England call in their weather observations.

The work is signed by Eric Sloane and dedicated to Luis, Peter and Suzie. The dedication is to Admiral Luis de Florez, his son Peter de Florez, and Peter’s wife Suzanne Humphreys-Ford-de Florez. Luis de Florez was a naval aviator and a Rear Admiral in the United States Navy influential in the development of early flight simulators and a pioneer in the use of “virtual reality” to simulate flight and combat situations in World War II. De Florez oversaw Roosevelt Field, where he befriended Eric Sloane. Roosevelt Field, named for Theodore Roosevelt’s son Quentin who was killed in air combat during WWI, was the starting point of Charles Lindbergh’s solo transatlantic flight.

Suzanne Humphreys was a debutante and her family socialized with the Roosevelts. She began flying at sixteen and soloed after only a little more than three hours of instruction. She took aviation courses at NYU and competed in many air shows and races. During WWII, she joined the British Air Transport Authority and became a ferry pilot in the Royal Air Force because women were not allowed in the U.S. American Air Corps. After the war, Humphreys returned to Roosevelt Field where she befriended the de Florez family and married Peter, a professor at MIT.

Early Bird remained in the de Florez family until Suzanne Humphreys-Ford-de-Florez gave it to the present owner prior to her death.

The sale will begin at 11:00am Pacific Time. The public may preview the auction Monday, June 26th, 1 – 5pm, Tuesday and Wednesday, June 27th and 28th, 9am – 5pm; and Thursday, June 29th, 9-11am or by appointment at PBA Galleries in San Francisco. PBA accepts absentee bids by phone, fax or email or bids may be placed during the sale in person or online. For more information, please contact PBA at (415) 989-2665 or [email protected].