By Carter B. Horsley
One of the highlights of this September 29,
2009 American Paintings auction at Christie's is Lot 74, a very
fine and quite large poetic landscape by Soren Emil Carlsen (1852-1932)
that is likely to go in the middle of its estimate of $30,000
to $50,000. An oil on canvas that measures 30 1/2 by 40
inches, it is entitled "Summer Mist" and is an excellent
Tonalist work. It clearly is one of his finest works and he has
been much underappreciated in the market. It sold for $80,500
including the buyer's premium as do all results mentioned in this
The auction total for the lots sold for
the 188 offered was $2,057,400.
The Culverhouse landscape
with sheep at Christies, Lot 71, Along the Path, is a very
unusual and fine composition and easily one of the artist's masterpieces
even though he is not a "big" name. It appears
to be in marvelous condition and is in a very good frame.
It was executed in 1866 and measures 25 ¾ by 39 ¾
inches. Such a big and impressive and very attractive picture
would ennoble any living room regardless of the name of the artist
and it has a low estimate of $6,000 to $8,000. It
sold for $6,500. Three years ago I think it might have had
an estimate of $20,000 to $30,000 and conceivably could have gone
for over $40,000. It is interesting to note that Sotheby's
this season has a more typical skating scene by Culverhouse (Lot
42) that is a little bit smaller and has an estimate of $10,000
to $15,000. Its nice but the Christie's painting is more
Lot 70 is a good landscape by George Inness
of Etretat in France, which has a arched cliff formation made
famous by Monet. Inness is one of the unquestionable giants
of American painting and while the middle gray portion up close
is not terribly appetizing from a distance the composition comes
together nicely. All the major 19th Century American artists
traveled extensively in Europe and while their European paintings
are not as popular with collectors as their American works that
is a minor nicety, especially in this case because the subject
is so famous and distinctive and because the works somewhat somber
(overcast) palette) is, in fact, pretty typical for Inness.
It has an estimate of $25,000 to $35,000 and probably will go
higher. It sold for $25,000. Inness started as a good
but not great Hudson River School painter of precise, detailed
landscapes before he changed styles and became a highly Impressionistic
Tonalist painter of the first caliber. His great Tonalist
paintings, surprisingly, are still undervalued in the market and
generally only bring in the mid-six figures but will gain over
Christies has a smaller and
much earlier Inness landscape, Near Peekskill, Lot 73, which measures
11 ½ by 15 inches and it has an estimate of only $10,000
to $15,000. It sold for $18,500. It is quite pleasant
and probably will not go much higher than its estimate and it
is a rare opportunity to get a pleasant and attractive small landscape
by such a major and wonderful name.
Lot 67 is a very
fine work by Charles Caryl Coleman (1840-1928) of a pergola on
Capri, where the artist lived during most of his career. An
oil on board laid down on canvas, it measures 14 by 20 1/4 inches
and was executed circa 1895. It has a modest estimate of
$10,000 to $15,000.
Lot 100 is a large
western landscape by Alexander Loemans (1816-1898) that might
be of the Grand Tetons. It is a handsome compositiion and
measures 30 by 48 inches. It has a modest estimate of $15,000
There are several
nice maritime watercolors in this auction by William Trost Richards
(1833-1905) and Albert Bricher. Richards is also represented
by a very pleasant landscape oil, entitled "Shady Grove,"
Lot 103. It measures 12 by 20 inches and was formerly with
the Spanierman Gallery and Questroyal. It has an estimate
of $8,000 to $12,000. It sold for $13,750.
The auction has a lovely pair
of Jane Peterson paintings that are immensely colorful, nicely
framed and have very reasonable estimates. They are so attractive
I suspect they will go over their estimates of $4,000 to $6,000
each, but not by too much. They both measure 18 by 24 inches.
They each sold for $8,150.
orange one, Lot 161, seems a bit more spectacular than the white
apple blossoms, Lot 162, but they do make a handsome pair,.
Peterson is quite competent and her works are consistently very
attractive and these are among the finest Ive seen and because
she is not ancient her prices are not prohibitive.
The Dennis Bunker Miller
at Christie's, Lot 46, is quite nice, but not smashing.
It will probably go toward the high end of its $20,000 to $30,000
estimate but I would suggest that while Bunker is not bad he is
not one of the really good American Impressionists such as William
Merritt Chase, John Twachtman, Childe Hassam, Tarbell, Theodore
Robinson, Sargent and Thomas Wilmer Dewing all of whom are highly
desirable and not inexpensive. The Miller is a bit similar
to the more poetic and impressionistic watercolor by Thomas Anshutz
(1851-1912), Lot 41, who was the teacher of Eakins. It has
a more reasonable estimate of $7,000 to $10,000 and will probably
not exceed its high estimate. It sold for $7,500.
Lot 133 is a superb, untitled
abstraction by Suzy Frelinghuysen (1911-1986) that is an oil on
canvas on board that measures 16 by 12 inches. She was a
member of the small and elite group in the 1930s and 1940s known
as the Park Avenue Cubists. It is a very strong composition
and reasonably priced at $10,000 to $15,000. It sold for $10,625.
It came up at auction last year and failed to sell. This group
preceded the Abstract Expressionists and have not yet received
their proper due, which will come. It is a really fine and