Carter B. Horsley
This auction has several major
works, a nice
group of early landscape paintings and some charming genre paintings.
Its highlight is Lot 7, "The
General Wolfe," a 17-by-24-inch oil on panel by Benjamin
West (1738-1820), the American painter who became the second president
of the Royal Academy of Art in London.
It is a reduced replica of the
59 ½-by-84-inch 1770 painting of the same title that is
in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.
According to the catalogue, it "apparently was sold during
West’s lifetime, along with a small version of William
Penn’s Treaty with the Indians (oil on panel, 17 1/8
by 23 7/8 in., Chicago Historical Society) as a copy made by the
artist for the engraver to work from….because of the special
interest of West’s first exhibited paintings of modern subjects,
both showing events set in America, the artist took special pains
to ensure the success of the engravings….Major-General James
Wolfe (1727-1759) was mortally wounded while commanding the British
forces against the French at Quebec on September 13, 1759."
The catalogue notes that Sir
was reported as having tried to dissuade West from painting the
scene in modern costume but West argued that "the same truth
that guides the pen of the historian should govern the pencil
of the artist," adding that West also noted that the event
depicted took place "in a region of the world unknown to
the Greeks and Romans, and at a period of time when no such nations,
nor heroes in their costume, any longer existed." According
to John Galt, a biographer of West, Reynolds eventually withdrew
his objections and announced that he foresaw "that this picture
will not only become one of the most popular, but occasion a revolution
in the art."
The lot has a conservative
estimate of $180,000
to $200,000. It sold for $2,600,000, not including the
Lot 196, "Mountebanks" is a
and impressive work by Gifford Beal (1879-1956) that has been
by the Collection of Mrs. Irving Felt. The 42-by-60 ¼-inch
oil on masonite was painted in 1936 and has an estimate of $200,000
to $300,000. Although Beal studied under William Merritt Chase
and his early career painted in an impressionist style, he switched,
according to the catalogue, in the 1920s to a "bolder, more
vigorous style evident in Mountebanks…[which] exudes the
passion, joy and romanticism of the circus with its writhing figures,
awestruck faces and loud use of color."
Lot 170 is a fine and
of "The Municipal Building, New York City," that the
catalogue describes only as "American School" and states
was painted circa 1916. The 36-by-30-inch oil on canvas is a superb
cityscape and has a conservative estimate of $10,000 to $15,000.
Lot 85, "The Path Along the
by Charles Harold Davis (1856-1933) is a very strong and beautiful
painting, 20 by 27 inches, dated 1890. The lot has an estimate
of $80,000 to $100,000 and is quite dramatic with a lovely quality
A small, but fiery landscape by
Vonnoh (1858-1933), Lot 68 has a modest estimate of $10,000 to
$15,000. It sold for $16,000 not including the buyer's
The oil on panel measures 6 ½ by 10 1/8 inches and shows
haystacks under a bright yellow and orange sky.
John Henry Twachtman
(1853-1902) is one of
the foremost American Impressionists and lot 77, "A Venetian
Scene" is a very good early work by him. The 16 7/8-by-12
1/8-inch oil on canvas is dated 1877 and is a very complex, interesting
and rather precise architectonic composition that predates his
subsequent softer palette and more abstract and poetic work. It
has an estimate of $40,000 to $60,000. It sold for $38,000
not including the buyer's premium.
Two other interesting works by
late 19th Century
painters are Lots 78 and 79. The former, "Orchard Giverny"
by Theodore Wendel (1857-1932) is a lovely pastel with very excellent
brushwork and an estimate of only $4,000 to $6,000. The latter,
"Moonlight Capri," by Charles Caryl Coleman (1840-1928),
is a very interesting night-time scene that is quite striking
and has an estimate of $18,000 to $22,000. It sold for
not including the buyer's premium.
The highlight of the Hudson
River School section
of the auction is Lot 20, "On the Path," a 34-by-56-inch
oil on canvas by John W. Casilear (1811-1893). Casilear traveled
to Europe for three years with Asher B. Durand and John F. Kensett
and began his career as an engraver of banknotes.
The catalogue provides the
"On the Path
stands as a quintessential
example of nineteenth-century American landscape painting with
symbolic elements frequently found in other masterworks of the
Hudson River School: the radiant sunlit sky, the rock outcroppings
and the lone figure with turned back walking towards a township
representing man’s progress and combination over the American
nation’s unbridled nature. The large format is also unique
to Casilear’s oeuvre reflecting the seriousness of the painting
and its existence a one the artist’s largest known works
The dramatic and very beautiful
a conservative estimate of $100,000 to $150,000. It sold for
$150,000 not including the buyer's premium.
Another famous Hudson River
was Worthington Whittredge (1820-1910). Lot 16, "Sunrise
on the Wetterhorn," was painted in Rome in 1858 and measures
38 ¾ by 53 1/8 inches. Most of the Hudson River School
painters spent considerable time traveling in Europe as did Albert
Bierstadt (1830-1902) who depicted the Alps many times around
the same time as Whittredge. Both Whittedge and Bierstadt would
become famous for their scenes of the American West, although
they also would paint many "Hudson River School" works.
This very dramatic view of the precipitous Wetterhorn has an estimate
of $100,000 to $150,000. It sold for $70,000 not including
the buyer's premium. Lot 50 is one of Bierstadt’s small
"butterfly" paintings that he made in Rorshalk Test-fashion
by folding paper in two and has an estimate of $10,000 to $15,000.
It sold for $18,000 not including the buyer's premium.
Jervis McEntee (1828-1891) was
a Hudson River
School painter well known for his wintry and twilight scenes.
Lot 49 is a fine example of his meticulous style and subtle palette.
Entitled "River Landscape," it is a 24-by-19 ¾-inch
oil on cradled panel and is dated 1880. It has an estimate of
$30,000 to $50,000. It sold for $30,000 not including the
Similar in temperament is Lot
December," a very fine work by Bruce Crane (1857-1937) that
is dated 1919 and has an estimate of $20,000 to $25,000. It
sold for $20,000 not including the buyer's premium.
Perhaps the most classic Hudson
painting in the auction is Lot 31, "Picnic Along the Hudson,"
by Robert Walter Weir (1803-1889). The medium-size canvas is dated
1881 and has an estimate of $80,000 to $100,000. It sold for
$80,000 not including the buyer's premium. Weir taught for
several decades at West Point. James McNeil Whistler, Robert E.
Lee and Ulysses S. Grant were among his students. Two of his sons,
John Ferguson Weir and Julian Alden Weir, would also become well
known artists. The catalogue describes this lot as "a marvelous
example of Weir’s achievements as a Hudson River School landscape
painter," adding that he painted several earlier versions
of this scene in the 1860s, one of which hangs in the West Point
The auction has numerous
paintings of specific
and famous locations.
Another impressive and large
landscape is Lot
27, "Lake Placid and the Adirondack Mountains From Whiteface,"
by James David Smillie (1833-1909). The 23 1/8-by-40 1/8-inch
oil on canvas was painted in 1878 and has a fine sense of depth
and light. It has an estimate of $80,000 to $100,000. It sold
for $80,000 not including the buyer's premium.
Smillie had a brother, George
(1840-1921), who was also an excellent landscape paper as evidenced
by Lot 19, "Boating on Lake George," a fine 12 1/8-by-20-inch
oil on canvas that is dated 1864 and has a conservative estimate
of $6,000 to $8,000. It sold for $16,000 not including the
Lot 51, "Tuckerman’s Ravine and
Washington," by Samuel Lancaster Gerry (1813-1891) is a very
handsome oil on canvas, 13 7/8 by 20 1/8 inches and has a modest
estimate of $12,000 to $15,000. It sold for $15,000 not
the buyer's premium.
Lot 1, "Trenton Falls, Near The
River, New York," is an impressive oil on canvas, 22 by 30
1/8 inches, by James Burt (active 1835-1849), a relatively obscure
artist. This is a very good and lively composition enlivened with
several figures and it has a conservative estimate of $10,000
to $15,000. It sold for $9,000 not including the buyer's
Lot 35, "Sunset," is a very
work by James Renwick Brevoort (1832-1918). The 10 ½-by-20-inch
oil on canvas is dated 1868 and has a conservative estimate of
$6,000 to $8,000. It sold for $13,000 not including the
The auction has some nice genre
notably Lots 30 and 66. The former is a sweet and very lovely
watercolor and gouache on board, 18 ¼ by 12 3/8 inches,
by Albert Fitch Bellows (1829-1883). Entitled "Safely Landed,"
it depicts a young woman by a pond or river under a large tree
and is dated 1873. It has a very conservative estimate of $4,000
to $5,000. It sold for $7,000 not including the buyer's
The latter is a fine beach scene at Trouville by Conrad Wise Chapman
(1842-1910) that measures 8 3/8 by 19 ¾ inches, oil on
canvas, and has a conservative estimate of $8,000 to $12,000.
It sold for $14,000 not including the buyer's premium.
Pairs of genre paintings are
and Lot 22, "Nominated and Elected," is a fine example
by Thomas Waterman Wood (1823-1903). Both oil paintings on canvas
measure 14 by 10 inches and the pair has an estimate of $35,000
to $45,000. The lot sold for $46,000 not including the
premium. In one a man is holding out one hand and holding
his hat in his other hand and in the other painting he is wearing
his hat at a cocked angle and assuming a rather arrogant pose.
Another fine genre painting is
Lot 39, "The
Rivals," by James Brade Sword (1839-1915), which shows a
young girl in a chair holding a cat while a small dog barks at
her feet. The finely painted, 24-by-16-inch oil on canvas has
an estimate of $8,000 to $12,000. It sold for $7,600 not
the buyer's premium.
Two 9 ¾-by-7 ¾-inch oil on
still life paintings by George E. Forster, Lots 41 and 42, are
superb and have conservative estimates each of $10,000 to $15,000.
They sold for $13,000 and $10,000, respectively, not
the buyer's premiums.