first time in a few seasons, the American Paintings auctions at
both Sotheby's and Christie's have a good, balanced selection
of early landscape paintings and Western paintings as well as
the usual assortment of still lifes, Impressionist and Modern
is highlighted by some very good Hudson River landscapes, a nice
selection of seascapes by such artists as William Haseltine and
William Bradford, and a rare portrait of a couple by Sheldon Peck,
a self-taught primitive artist of the mid-19th Century.
"Upper Hudson," shown above, is a very fine example
of the fine color and luminism of Jasper Francis Cropsey (1823-1900).
The 20-by-35-inch oil on canvas was dated 1871 and has a modest
estimate of $60,000 to $80,000 and was illustrated in John K.
Howat's 1972 book, "The Hudson River and Its Painters."
It sold for $55,375 including the buyer's premium as do all
results mentioned in this article.
was a very strong auction with more than 85 percent of the lots
selling, many over their high estimates, especially early landscape
paintings, for a total of $22,498,400.
the troubled state of the economy and an uneven auction season
so far, it was not suprisingly that few blockbusters in this field
were being offered at auction this season. Indeed, Phillips de
Pury & Luxembourg decided not to hold an American Paintings
auction this season although it will hold a major American Art
auction in May. Two nights before this sale, it held a benefit
for the Twin Towers Fund that included the auction of a very fine
small painting of the World Trade Center disaster by Jamie Wyeth
and a preview of many of the excellent marine paintings it has
already assembled for the May auction. The Wyeth painted sold
for $400,000 to great applause and the auction house announced
it was taking no commission.
and very fine series of four small paintings by Cropsey of the
"Four Seasons," oil on canvas, each 4 by 8 inches, Lot
30, has also been consigned to Sotheby's by the Feld estates.
The lot has an estimate of $60,000 to $80,000. The lot sold
illustration of the catalogue is Lot 36, "A View from Mount
Desert," by William Stanley Haseltine (1835-1900), an oil
on canvas, 30 by 50 inches, dated 1861.
and handsome painting was executed by the artist in his studio
based on drawings he had made on the site. Haseltine is noted
for his interest in geology and had studied natural history at
Harvard University and then spent four years studying under Andreas
Achenbach at the Dusseldorf Academy in Germany. Achenbach also
influenced Albert Bierstadt and this work is reminiscent of Bierstadt's
grandiose and fine style. It has an estimate of $250,000 to $350,000.
It sold for $748,250.
works do not appear often at auction but there are two other works
by him in this sale, Lots 32 and 33.
"New England Rocks," shown above, is a 12-by-22-inch
oil on canvas that is very typical of his most famous works. It
has been consigned by the estate of Maude B. Feld and Samuel B.
Feld and has an estimate of $40,000 to $60,000. It sold for
"Capri Coast," shown above, is a 15-by-23-inch oil on
canvas by Haseltine and it also has an estimate of $40,000 to
$60,000. It sold for $98,500.
Bradford (1823-1892) is best known for his paintings of the Artic.
Lot 3, "Coastal Scene," shown above, is a very strong
small work by him that is quite dramatic and lovely. The 8-by-12-inch
oil on board is dated 1860. It was consigned by the estates of
Maude B. Feld and Samuel Feld and has an estimate of $40,000 to
$60,000. It sold for $159,750.
good Bradford is Lot 9, "Entering Harbor, Coast of Labrador,"
a 20-by-30-inch oil on canvas. It has an estimate of $50,000 to
$75,000. It sold for $84,125.
shown above, is another Bradford, more subdued and subtle than
the other two lots but quite lyrical. Entitled "Fishermen's
Homes Near Cape St. Johns, Coast of Labrador," it is an oil
on canvas, 18 by 30 inches and was executed in 1876. It has an
estimate of $80,000 to $120,000. It sold for $126,750.
It is one
of about 40 works consigned by "an International Corporate
Collection," including several fine Hudson River School landscapes.
the Feld estates is Lot 28, "A Spring Day on the Hudson,"
by William M. Hart (1823-1894). The 12 1/4-by-18 1/4-inch oil
on canvas has an estimate of $30,000 to $50,000. It sold for
"Under the Vines," is a sweet view of a woman seated
beneath a tree close to her Nantucket house by Eastman Johnson
(1824-1906), one of America's finest genre painters. The 17-by-21
1/2-inch oil on canvas was also consigned by the Feld estates
and has an estimate of $40,000 to $60,000. It was "passed"
another consignment from the international corporate collection
is "A Dream of the Alps," shown above, by Thomas Doughty
(1793-1856), one of the earliest fine landscape painters in the
United States. The 26-by-36-inch oil on canvas has a modest estimate
of $25,000 to $35,000. It sold for $21,450.
Lot 6, "Autumn,
Hunter Mountain," by Worthington Whittredge (1820-1910),
shown above, is also from the international corporate collection
and is a fine, detailed landscape. The oil on board measures 11
1/2 by 15 inches and is dated 1866. It has an estimate of $30,000
to $50,000. It sold for $58,250.
Whittredge, Lot 5, consigned by the Feld estates, is entitled,
"A Home by the Sea, Newport," and is a 14 1/2-by-21-inch
oil on canvas that was executed circa 1885. It was once in the
collections of M. & M. Karolik and Victor Spark. It has an
estimate of $60,000 to $80,000. It sold for $269,750.
painting in this auction is Lot 84, "Landscape at Fontainebleau,"
by Abbot H. Thayer (1849-1921). Consigned by the "international
corporate collection," it is a 21 1/4-by-18-inch oil on canvas
and was painted circa 1876. It was once in the collection of George
de Forest Brush, the artist. It has a very conservative estimate
of $20,000 to $30,000 and would have surely made Corot rhapsodic.
It sold for $58,250.
"Mr. and Mrs. William Vaughan of Aurora, Illinois,"
is a 30-by-34-inch oil on canvas by Sheldon Peck (1797-1868),
a primitive artist. It is in the original frame grain-painted
by the artist to resemble mahogany veneer.
provides the following commentary on the lot by Thomas Armstrong,
Director Emeritus of the Whitney Museum of Art:
untrained in the academic principles of painting, especially those
related to space and light, have too long been relegated to the
subsidiary category of 'folk artists.' Sheldon Peck's Portrait
of Mr. and Mrs. William Vaughan has the authenticity and conviction
of a masterwork. The intuitive stylization and abstraction of
the figures, along with the outstanding sense of design throughout
the composition, produce a work of extraordinary power. As a
century portrait of a mid-western couple, the painting has far
more dignity than many academic works of the same period in which
American artists produced idealized images based on European
has a somewhat ambitious estimate of $1,500,000 to $2,500,000.
It sold for $830,750.
One of the
highlights of the Western Art section of the auction is Lot 189,
"Indian Encampment," shown above, is a large and quite
bright work by Ralph Albert Blakelock (1847-1919). The 28-by-35
3/4-inch oil on canvas has an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000.
It failed to sell.
Remington (1861-1909) is a very uneven artist most of whose popular
works are not terribly great illustrations. Lot 193, "Blackfoot
Indian Chief," shown above, however, is one of his better
paintings and was once in the collection of the Gulf States Paper
Corporation in Tuscalooosa, Alabama. The 22-by-16-inch oil on
canvasboard was painted in 1888 and has an estimate of $250,000
to $350,000. It sold for $192,750.
"Coming Across the Plain," is a fine watercolor and
gouache on paper, 11 3/4 by 21 inches, by Charles Marion Russell
(1864-1926). The lot has a modest estimate of $150,000 to $250,000.
It failed to sell.
179 is a very good painting, "The Prairie Fire," shown
above, by Henry Ritter (1816-1853), a not very well-known artist.
The 24-by-33 3/4-inch oil on canvas was painted in 1851 and is
as good as many of the best works by Alfred Jacob Miller and Charles
Wimar. It has an estimate of $75,000 to $100,000. It sold for
In the 20th
Century section of the auction, there are some superb works by
John Marin, Marsden Hartley, Charles Demuth and Jacob Lawrence.
"Trees in Autumn Foliage, Maine," is a 1948 oil on canvas,
22 by 28 inches, by John Marin (1870-1953) that is exceptional
for its bright reds and overall dynamics. It has a modest estimate
of $150,000 to $250,000 and has been consigned by the estates
of Drs. Macia and Meyer Friedman. It sold for $269,750.
lovelier Marin is Lot 132, "Peach Trees in Blossom, No. 1,"
a 15 3/4-by-19-inch watercolor and pencil on paper. Executed the
same year as Lot 143, it also is notable for its bright reds and
for the fact that its subject matter is quite recognizable, which
is not always the case with Marin, who is one of the great American
moderns. This lot has a very modest estimate of $25,000 to $35,000.
It sold for $52,500.
consignment from the Friedman estates is Lot 121, "Dogtown,"
a quite vibrant oil on board, 18 by 24 inches, by Marsden Hartley
(1878-1943)(see The City
Review article on a Hartley exhibition).
was executed in 1931 and has an estimate of $150,000 to $250,000.
It sold for $181,750.
illustration of the catalogue is Lot 125, "Zinnias and
a 14-by-10-inch watercolor and pencil on paper, shown above, by
Charles Demuth (1883-1935) that is an exquisite example of his
floral studies. It has an estimate of $200,000 to $300,000. It
sold for $225,750.
"The Barns, Lake George," is a 21 by 32 3/4-inch oil
on canvas by Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1986). A dark, somber work
that is quite abstract, it has a somewhat ambitious estimate of
$700,000 to $900,000. It sold for $1,105,750.
"New York," shown above, is a watercolor and charcoal
on paper, 24 1/2 by 19 inches, by Max Weber (1881-1961). Dated
1912, it has an estimate of $75,000 to $100,000. It has been consigned
by the "International Corporate Collection." It sold
consignment from the same corporate collection is Lot 92, "The
Mary Maxwell House," by Daniel Garber (1880-1958), a 30-by-25-inch
oil on canvas that is very lovely and one of the artist's finest
works. It has a conservative estimate of $125,000 to $175,000.
It sold for $236,750.
"Dock Scene, Gloucester," is a good oil on canvas, 22
by 21 inches, by Childe Hassam (1859-1935). Painted in 1894, it
has an estimate of $250,000 to $350,000. It sold for $665,750.
Twachtman (1853-1902) is one of America's greatest and most poetic
Impressionist painters and Yellowstone Park in Wyoming provided
him with inspiration for some of his most dramatic paintings.
Lot 76, "Yellowstone Park," shown above, is a good example
of this series and was once in the collections of A. Conger Goodyear
and Thomas Mellon Evans. The 30-by-25-inch oil on canvas was painted
circa 1895 and has an estimate of $150,000 to $250,000. It
sold for $225,750.
(1917-2000) is the subject of a major retrospective exhibition
at the Whitney Museum of Art this fall and Lot 136, "Menagerie,"
shown above, is a fine example of his colorful work and great
compositions. It is a watercolor and gouache on paper and measures
22 1/2 by 31 inches. It was executed in 1964 and has a modest
estimate of $70,000 to $90,000. It sold for $75,500.