By Carter B. Horsley
auction of American Paintings at Christie's December 2, 2009 is
highlighted by some very fine works by Maurice Prendergast, Childe
Hassam, Albert Bierstadt, Ralston Crawford, George Inness, Marsden
Hartley, Mary Cassatt, Edmund Tarbell and Richard Miller.
is a lovely watercolor by Maurice Brazil Prendergast (1859-1924)
that is entitled "Elegant Woman in a Blue Dress." It
measures 13 3/4 by 6 inches and was executed circa 1893-4. It
has an estimate of $600,000 to $800,000. It sold for $1,022,500
including the buyer's premium as do all results mentioned in this
one-third of the 138 offered lots failed to sell. The auction's
total was $32,358,750.
Lot 90 is
a very good watercolor by Prendergast that was executed circa
1898-9 and measures 12 1/2 by 20 1/2 inches. It was formerly in
the collections of Lawrence A. Fleischman of Detroit, and Rita
and Daniel Frad of Scarsdale, New York. The work has been widely
exhibited and published. It has an estimte of $500,000 to $700,000.
It sold for $542,500.
had a brother Charles (1863-1948) who was famous for his screens.
Lot 91 is a three-panel screen he created cira 1916-7. Each panel
measures 75 by 27 1/4 inches.
was formerly owned by Duncan Phillips, the founder of The Phillips
Collection in Washington, D.C. The catalogue notes that "decorated
across the surface in a characteristically whimsical, highly imaginative
style, Three-Panel Screen from 1916-1917 is a magnificent
example of Charles Prendergast's painted panels and most likely
the first of only three screens crated during his prolific career."
"Although his reputation was first established as one of
America's greatest frame makers, Prendergast began a second career
as a painter in his fifties which flourished into his early eighties."
The lot has
an estimate of $1,000,000 to $1,500,000. It sold for $1,202,500.
Lot 87 is
a large and excellent pastel on paper by Mary Cassatt (1844-1926)
entitled "Study for 'Young Mother Sewing." It measures
36 1/2 by 28 1/2 inches and was created in 1902. The work is related
to a work in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
that had been given by Louise Havemeyer. Cassatt was introduced
to pastel by Edgar Degas and in 1877 he invited her to exhibit
with the Impressionists. Cassatt advised the Havemeyers on art
collecting. The lot has a modest estimate of $800,000 to $1,200,000.
It sold for $2,434,500.
a group of talented artists who became well-known for painting
society ladies in white dresses around the turn of the 20th Century.
Perhaps the best was Edmund Tarbell (1862-1938) and Lot 31 is
a very fine and extremely impressionistic example of his work.
It was formerly in the collection of the Terra Museum of American
Art in Chicago. The catalogue quotes William Gerdts that "The
leader of the Boston figural Impresionists was Tarbell, and the
group was referred to early on as 'The Tarbellites' a term coined
somewhat invidiously by the critic Sadakichi Hartmann in March
1897." The lot has a conservative estimate of $800,000 to
$1,200,000. It failed to sell.
Lot 97 is
a luscious portraint of a young woman sewing by Richard Edward
Miller (1875-1943). An oil on canvas, it measures 28 1/2 by 23
1/2 inches. Miller is a superb painter with a very distinct and
lovely palette. The lot has a conservative estimate of $150,000
to $250,000. It sold for $182,500.
Lot 48 is
a small and wonderful New York scene by Childe Hassam (1859-1935)
that depicts the Sixth Avenue El in 1894. An oil on canvas, it
measures 18 by 14 inches. The painting once belonged to Frank
Sinatra and Gordon Getty. It has a modest estimate of $400,000
to $600,000. It sold for $602,500.
provides the following commentary:
present work is a striking nocture that captures the hustling
atmosphere of Sixth Aenue as the juxtaposition of Elevated railroad
and horse and buggy reveal a city a in transition. The rich blues
and grays of street and sky are dramatically perforated by twinkling
street lanterns as the smoke from the el diffuses into the evening
sky. Hassam imploys short, brick brushstrokes to capture the activity
of the scene, capturing the motion of the various figures in the
crowd. The diagonal trajectory of train tracks and buildings creates
a tremendous recession of space and further underscores movement
and acvity in the scene."
38 is a fine impressionist work by Childe Hassam (1859-1935) entitled
"Rainy Day." An oil on canvas, it measures 24 1/4 by
18 ¼ inches and was executed in 1890. It sold for $701,900
including the buyer's premium when it was auctioned at Christie's
May 18, 2004 when it then had an estimate of $300,000 to $500,000.
Its estimate now is $500,000 to $700,000. It sold for $782,500.
(1873-1939) is an uneven artist and many of his works have rather
limited and drab palettes and simialr compositions. Lot 28, however,
is a very strong and bold and painterly landscape of "New
Hope, Pennsylvania" by Lawson. An oil on panel, it measures
15 1/2 by 19 1/2 inches and was painted circa 1914-6. It has a
conservative estimate of $40,000 to $60,000. It sold for $62,500.
Lot 37 is
a large and nicely composed painting of a man in a canoe by Frank
Weston Benson (1862-1951). Entitled "Restigouche at Sunset,"
it is an oil on canvas that measures 32 by 40 inches and was painted
in 1928. It has an estimate of $600,000 to $800,000. It failed
(1825-1894) is the great American Tonalist painter and Lot 55,
"Autumn, Montclair, New Jersey," is a classic example
of his best work. An oil on canvas, it measures 30 by 25 inches
and was painted circa 1886-1893. It is property of the Corcoran
Gallery of Art and is being sold to benefit the acquistions fund.
Works of such a high quality should not be deaccessioned by public
institutions even when they have more than one example by the
artist. This lot has a conservative estimate of $150,000 to $250,000.
It sold for $146,500.
work being sold by the Corcoran Gallery is Lot 73, "Mountainous
Landscape by Moonlight," by Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902).
An oil on canvas, it measures 30 by 50 inches and was painted
in 1871. It has been widely published and exhibited. It has an
estimate of $1,200,000 to $1,800,000. This composition might have
been more effective is its scale was much smaller. It sold
(1830-1902) is best known for his monumental and grandiloquent
sunset landscapes of the American West, but many of his very small
sketches are also wonderful. Although at his best, Bierstadt was
a remarkable painter sometimes he obviously had off days when
clumsiness was in the air. Lot 71, "River Scene," is
a very lovely small oil on panel by Bierstadt that was painted
in 1858. It measurs 5 1/2 by 9 1/4 inches. It has an estimate
of $60,000 to $80,000. It sold for $110,500.
Lot 7 is
a very striking trapezoidal oil painting on glass by Joseph Stella
(1877-1946) entitled "The Water Lily." It is a very
strong panting made more memorable by its unusual shape. It measures
16 by 14 inches and was included in the retrospective on the artist
at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1994. It has a modest
estimate of $50,000 to $70,000. It sold for $230,500.
(1877-1943) is best known for his extraordinary abstractions based
on German soldier's uniforms and medals but his landscapes and
still lifes are also greatly admired. Lot 10 is one of the finest
of his still lifes. It is entitled "Still Life, Geraniums,"
and is an oil on canvas that measures 24 by 19 1/2 inches and
was painted circa 1928. It has an estimate of $250,000 to $350,000.
It failed for sell.
Bellows (1882-1925) is an artist who occasionally knocks your
socks off with his virtuosity and Lot 50 is just such an example.
An oil on canvas, it measures 20 by 24 inches and was painted
in 1920. It is titled "River at Saugerties." It was
included in the artist's retrospective in 2004 at the Minneapolis
Institute of Arts. The catalogue notes that beginning in 1920
Bellows "painted spiritual landscapes of primary colors in
and around Woodstock, New York." This very superb work has
a modest estimate of $400,000 to $600,000. It failed to sell.
Lot 4 is
a very strong and colorful abstraction by Arthur Beecher Carles
(1882-1952). An oil on canvas, it measures 31 by 35 inches and
was painted circa 1931-5. It once belonged to R. Sturgis Ingersoll
and has been widely exhibited and published. It has an estimate
of $150,000 to $250,000. It sold for $182,500.
Lot 17 is
a good small gouache and pencil on paper by Stuart Davis (1892-1964).
Entitled "Still," it measures 5 1/4 by 7 1/2 inches
and was executed in 1953. It was once in the collection of Edwin
C. Wilson of Washington, D.C. It sold for $37,500.
has two somewhat similar and very nice abstractions by Ralston
Crawford (1906-1978). Lot 15 is an oil on canvas entitled "Net."
It measures 13 by 18 1/4 inches. It has an estimate of $30,000
to $50,000. It sold for $43,750.
Crawford, Lot 14, is titled "Wharf Objects at Santa Barbara
#2." It is a tempera on paperboard that measures 13 1/4 by
20 1/2 inches and was painted in 1948. It was included in the
1985 retrospective on the artist at the Whitney Museum of American
Art. It has an estimate of $30,000 to $50,000. It failed to
illustration of the auction catalogue is Lot 24, "Above the
Narrows," by Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009). It is a tempera on
panel that measures 48 by 32 1/4 inches. It was painted in 1960
and is property of the estate of Jack L. Dreyfus Jr., the founder
of Dreyfus & Co, a mutual fund company. It was exhibited at
the Albright-Knox Gallery in Buffalo in 1962, and the Whitney
Museum of American Art in 1967 and 1998. It was painted at Bradford's
Point on the St. George's River in maine and shows the artist's
teenage son, Nicky, standing "with the expectant gaze of
youth and the posturing of confidence of a young adult standing
on the precipice," according to the catalogue entry, which
also noted that "The gentle curve of the sloping hillside
places the figure in a position of monumentality standing over
the sweeping landscape." The rather stark and sober composition
has an ambitious estimate of $3,000,000 to $4,000,000. It sold
is offering a set of 14 large oil paintings by N. C. Wyeth (1882-1945)
that illustrated an 1920 edition of Daniel Defoe's "Robinson
Crusoe." Lot 128, "For a mile, or thereabouts, my raft
went very well-," is one of the better works in the series.
It is an oil on canvas that measures 40 1/2 by 30 inches.
is proeprty of the Wilmington Institute Library and is expected
to realize more than $3,800,000. The library purchased the series
in 1922 directly from the artist as decoration for the library's
du Bois (1884-1958) was an important art critic who also happened
to be a notable Art Deco painter whose works are generally distinguished
by the rounded modeling of his figures and hiis soft light. Lot
43, "Third Avenue El," is a very fine composition by
the artist from 1932. An oil on canvas, it measures 36 by 39 inchyes.
It has an estimate of $300,000 to $500,000. It sold for $782,500.
Lot 36 is
a very fine painting by du Bois entitled "Bull Market Promenade."
The artist's subjects were generally the rich. In this oil on
canvas that measures 18 by 22 inches and was painted in 1928 he
paints a very well attired gentleman sauntering along the border
of Central Park and the simple but strong composition is reminiscent
of Gustave Caillebotte. It has a modest estimate of $120,000 to
$180,000. It sold for $158,500.
(1836-1910) is the greatest American artist and a thorough viewing
of his oeuvre would indicate that he probably created more than
500 masterpieces. Lot 81, "Nassau: Water and Sailboat"
is a large watercolor dated 1899 in an unusually square format.
It manifests none of the artist's glorious painterly techniques.
It has an ambitious estimate of $400,000 to $600,000. It is property
of the estate of Mrs. Charles W. Englehard and had been in the
collections of Stephen C. Clark of New York and Alastair Bradley
Martin of Glen Head, N.Y. It sold for $650,500.