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American Paintings




10 AM, September 30, 2009

Sales 8570

"Two Natures" by Benhamin Hartman

Lot 30, "Two Natures," by Bertram Hartman, 30 by 39 inches, 1913

By Carter B. Horsley

This American Painting auction at Sotheby's September 30, 2009 is highlighted by two exceptional works by Bertram Hartman, a group of paintings by Arthur B. Davies that are being sold by the Art Institute of  Chicago, a superb portrait by Julian Alden Weir, and good works by Francis A. Silva, Thomas Doughty, Alexander Wyant and Johann Mongels Culverhouse.

Lot 30, "Two Natures," is a large and very fine painting by Bertram Hartman (1862-1960).  It was executed in 1913 and measures 30 by 39 inches.  Hartman was an early American modernist who was influenced by Symbolism and who often employed an almost psychedelic palette.  This is a striking work that has a most estimate of $12,000 to $18,000.  It was exhibited at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco in 1915 and later at the Berry Hill Galleries.  It sold for $20,000 including the buyer's premium as do all the results mentioned in this article. Another Hartman in the auction is Lot 32, which measures 20 1/2 by 39 inches and also has an estimate of $12,000 to $18,000.  It is also an interesting work but less dramatic and bold than "Two Natures."
It sold for $11,250.

The auction total was $1,994,313.

"Grey Morning" by Bruce Crane

Lot 74, "Grey Morning," by Bruce Crane, oil on canvas, 12 by 16 1/2 inches 

Lot 106 is a very lovely work by Bruce Crane, entitled "Grey Morning."  An oil on canvas, it measures 12 by 16 1/2 inches.  Crane is one of the major American Tonalist painters.  It has an estimate of $7,000 to $10,000. It sold for $13,750.

"Skating scene" by Culverhouse

Lot 42, "Skating at Twilight," by Johann Mongels Culverhouse, oil on canvas, 22 1/4 by 36 1/2 inches


Lot 42, "Skating at Twilight" is a good work by Johann Mongels Culverhouse.  It measures 22 1/4 by 36 1/2 inches and has a modest estimate of $10,000 to $15,000. It sold for $12,500.

Untitled by Alexander Wyant

Lot 53, Untitled by Alexander Wyant, oil on board, 10 5/8 by 14 1/4 inches


Lot 53 is a very nice small oil on board by Alexander Wyant.  It has an estimate of $8,000 to $12,000. It failed to sell.


"A Hunter With His Dog" by Doughty


Lot 52, "A Hunter with His Dog," by Thomas Doughty, oil on canvas, 17 by 24 inches

My fifth recommendation is the excellent Thomas Doughty landscape at Sothebys, Lot 52, A Hunter with His Dog.   Doughty is a very early and very fine landscape painter whose works generally have a lovely palette and very nice compositions and he is included in many museum collections.  This is a very good picture that actually is stronger in contrast than many of his lyrical scenes and it has a very nice frame and a low estimate.  I would suggest that it will probably go a bit over its high estimate (12,000) and would be well worth it at that level. It sold for $5,000.


"Sailing at Twilight" by Silva

Lot 47, "Sailing at Twilight," by Francis A. Silva, oil on canvas, 20 by 36 inches

Lot 47 is a good marine painting by Francis A. Silva (1835-1886) entitled "Sailing at Twilight."  An oil on canvas, it measures 20 by 36 inches and has an estimate of $40,000 to $60,000. It sold for $86,500. It was offered last May at Sotheby's with an estimate of $80,000 to $120,000 and it then failed to sell. Painted in 1877, it is a lovely painting but is a bit unusual in its breaking waves and serious clouds that are something of a departure from the calm stillness of his more Luminist works. This painting, however, does have a fine quality of light.

"Harper's Ferry" by Sonntag


Lot 160, "Harper's Ferry," by William Sonntag, oil on canvas, 34 by 54 inches


Lot 160 is a good large painting of Harper's Ferry by William Louis Sonntag, (1822-1900).  It was executed in 1864 and measures 34 by 54 inches. It failed to sell.

"Dirge" by Arthur Bowen Davies

Lot 26, "Dirge," by Arthur B. Davies, oil on canvas, 8 by 20 inches

The Arthur B. Davies paintings being sold by the Art Institute of Chicago cover a variety of the artist's different subjects and styles.  The best is Lot 26, "Dirge in Spring," an oil on canvas that measures 8 by 20 inches.  Davies (1862-1928) was the organizer of the incredibly influential Armory Show of 1913 that introduced modern European painting to Americans and he is one of the eight artists of the great Ashcan School that had been founded by Robert Henri.  (The others include  George Luks, John Sloan, Everett Shinn, Maurice Prendergast, Ernest Lawson and William Glackens.)  This is a very poetic image that is evocative of mystery and romance painted in a darker style than Puvis de Chavannes.  Davies also experimented with a bright Cubist style.  This lot has an estimate of $10,000 to $15,000. It sold for $10,000.

"American Woman" by Julian Alden Weir


Lot 104, "An American Girl," by Julian Alden Weir, oil on canvas,  36 by 28 1/4 inches

Lot 104 is a very beautiful portrait of "An American Girl," by Julian Alden Weir (1852-1919), one of the nation's finest Impressionists.  His father, Robert Walter Weir, taught art at West Point and was a well-known painter and his brother, John Ferguson Weir, also was a good landscape painter.  This painting is being sold by the Art Institute of Chicago and was included in a memorial exhibition on the artist in 1924 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  It measures 36 by 28 1/43 inches and has a conservtive estimate of $8,000 to $12,000. It sold for $7,500.


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