By Carter B. Horsley
Rita and Daniel Fraad began
paintings and drawings in 1955 when their market value was still
greatly undervalued and major works could be had for four figures.
They concentrated mostly on late 19th Century and early 20th Century
artists such as John Singer Sargent, Winslow Homer, Robert Henri,
Maurice Prendergast, Everett Shinn and George Bellows.
Today their collection has
in value. Sotheby's estimate for this auction of 79 works ranges
from $31,799,500 million to $47,809,000 million. The estimate
was conservative, a tribute to the marketing value of promoting
a "single-owner collection." The Fraad auction total
of $65,083,400, including the buyers' premiums, was the "largest
single-owner sale of American paintings to ever come to auction.
When combined with the multiple-owner section of the same sale,
which had a separate catalogue but the same sale number, the total
American Art auction sales at Sotheby's December 1, 2004 came
to $107,855,400, a remarkable figure that considerable surpassed
the evening auction totals of Contemporary Art auctions this season
at Sotheby's and Christie's, both of which only totalled about
$92- to $93-million each.
While it is not as
comprehensive as the great
collections put together by Daniel Terra, which has recently been
given to the Art Institute of Chicago or the Manoogian Collection,
or the Warner Collection of American Fine and Decorative Art of
the Gulf States Paper Corporation, it is very impressive and has
"The Fraad collection," the
stated, "is surely the most important collection of American
art to appear on the market in at least a generation....Rita Rich
and Daniel Fraad Jr., both born in Brooklyn, met when she was
fifteen and he eighteen, introduced by her cousin. He left Brooklyn
for Brown University where he majored in biology (later taking
graduate courses at Yale in anatomy), and she earned her B.A.
at Smith College in political science....At Dan's death in 1987,
they had beenmarried for more than fifty years....Dan was a
head of Allied Maintenance Corporation (later Ogden Allied
the building services company his father founded in 1888 and which
Dan expanded to include ground services to airlines....As for
competition from other private collectors, there was precious
little. Arthur Altschul and Herbert Goldstone in New York and
Vivian and 'Pat' Potamkin in Philadelphia were the only other
major collectors of American art at that time."
This last statement is untrue
as they were
a few private collectors in New York and Boston a decade earlier.
"The Fraads' close friends
Ray Horowitz - known today for their fine American impressionist
collection - at that time were buying French drawings....,"
the catalogue continued.
The star of the collection, and
the cover illustration
of the catalogue, is Lot 7, "Group With Parasols (A Siesta),"
by John Singer Sargent, a luminous pastoral scene that is radiant
and extremely painterly. In a press release about the auction,
Sotheby's noted that the Fraads "were true pioneers among
collectors, purchasing the core of the collection between 1955
and 1965, with a handful of major acquisitions in the 1970s and
1980s." Dara Mitchell, head of Sotheby's American Paintings
Department, was quoted as saying that "The Fraads would educate
themselves by spending time with dealers and in such galleries
as Babcock and Hirschl & Adler which specialized in American
art. The Fraads acquired this Sargent in 1962 from the Hirsch
& Adler Galleries. It has a conservative estimate of $9,000,000
to $12,000,000. It sold for $23,528,000 including the buyer's
premium as do all the results mentioned in this article. The sale
was extremely successful with more than 92 percent of the 78 offered
lots selling, many considerably above their high estimate.
With his bravura technique,
Sargent was an
extremely popular portrait painter, but this work depicts his
companions relaxing in Giomeil in the Alps. "The arrangement
of men and women in relaxed repose with interwining limbs and
unusual familiarity," according to the Sotheby's press release,
"was a bold contrast to the social context of the age. The
closely cropped landscape further emphasizes the intimacy of the
subject matter, and Sargent's treatment of the surface and the
handling of paint reinforce his daring and modern vision. Sargent's
focus on the effects of shadows and light, combined with the richly
patterned decoration, result in a nearly abstract composition."
The other big-ticket item in
the auction is
Lot 20, "Stage Scene," by Everett Shinn. An oil on canvas
that measures 24 by 29 1/2 inches, it was executed in 1906. It
has an estimate of $2,500,000 to $3,500,000. It sold for
Shinn's oeuvre is divided roughly into two halves: one theatrical
and one street-wise. This work obviously belongs in the former
category and while it shows the influence of the theater scenes
of Degas it is a masterpiece. The artist kept in his personal
collection for 40 years until he gave it as a gift to the Lotos
Club in return for membership. The club decided to sell it in
1963 and the Fraads acquired it that year from the Hammer Gallery.
The catalogue provides the
about Shinn and the Ashcan School in its description of "Stage
"As a leading figure of the
Everett Shinn was among the artists whose depictions of New York
at the turn of the century challenged the conventions of contemporary
American painting. In their unsentimental portrayals of contemporary
life in New York, the Ashcan artists captured the full range of
urban existence from the gritty realities of tenement living to
the upper class enclaves along Fifth Avenue. Shinn was a member
of The Eight, a diverse group of independent artists led by Robert
Henri and John Sloan who rebelled against the academic establishment
and held a revolutionary exhibition of their own work in 1908.
Shinn wrote, 'The grievance that gnawed at The Eight was the
of their own profession. They looked beyond the outposts of society
where people were real by default of riches - to saloons where
purled the dreams of change and expansion, to alleyways and gutters,
train yards, night courts, dives, docks, dance halls and park
The Fraads also have a fine
example of the
artist's street scenes, Lot 3, "Out of a Job, News of the
Unemployed," a wash, black crayon and pencil on board that
measures 13 1/2 by 27 3/4 inches. Dated 1908, it has an estmate
of $125,000 to $175,000 and is a classic work of the "Ash-Can
School." It sold for $176,000.
Lot 14, "Sylvester Smiling," is
great portrait of a youth by Robert Henri. An oil on canvas, it
mesaures 24 by 20 inches and was executed in 1914. It is extremely
painterly and striking. It was acquired by the Fraads from Hirschl
& Adler Galleries in 1961. It has a conservative estimate
of $300,000 to $500,000. It sold for $355,200.
Lot 2, "Sketchers in the Woods"
probably the finest pastel Robert Henri of woodland scenes around
1918. It is one of his finest works and was acquired in 1958 by
the Fraads from Hirschl & Adler Galleries. It has a modest
estimate of $80,000 to $120,000. It sold for $232,000.
The Eight consisted of Shinn,
John Sloan (1971-1951),
George Luks (1867-1933), William Glackens (1870-1938), Maurice
Prendergast (1858-192), Ernest Lawson (1873-1939) and Arthur B.
Davies (1862-1928). Their spiritual leader and mentor was Robert
Henri. Shinn met Sloan, Glackens and Luks at The Philadelphia
Press where they were illustrators. All would soon leave Philadelphia
and continue their careers in New York.
Lot 22, "Gray Day, Jersey
is an excellent coastal picture by John Sloan. An oil on canvas
that measures 22 by 26 1/4 inches, it was painted in 1911 and
acquired by the Fraads from the Kraushaar Galleries in 1963. It
has a conservative estimate of $125,000 to $175,000. It sold
Lot 21, "The Cabby," is a good
of a carriage driver by Luks, the most raucous of The Eight. This
lot has a modest estimate of $80,000 to $120,000 and in its simplicity
and dash it has the hallmarks of a Frans Hals. Luks was inconsistent
but at his best he was best of The Eight. It sold for
George Bellows (1882-1925) was
not an official
member of The Eight but many of his works are closely aligned
stylistically with the group. The Fraads have three major works
Lot 15 is entitled "Kids," and
an oil on canvas that measures 32 by 42 inches. It was painted
in 1906 and has an estimate of $2,500,000 to $4,500,000. The Fraads
acquired it in 1964 from H. V. Allison & Co. This is a classic,
almost definitive "Ashcan" work. It sold for $6,168,000.
The catalogue provides the
on this lot:
Bellows' first major
painting of the working class children who lived in the tements
of New York's Lower East Side. In this and other early works,
Bellows applied his own brand of realism to the gritty aspects
of city life, forming a compendium of scenes of New York life
seldom portrayed so directly in American art up to this time."
The catalogue overstates this a
bit as there
existed a long tradition of genre paintings of poor children,
albeit mostly rural, by such fine artists as William Sidney Mount
and John George Brown, the latter who frequently depicted shoeshine
boys and newspaper hawkers.
"Bellows," the catalogue entry
"was strongly influenced by his teacher and mentor Robert
Henri, who encouraged his students to purse a modern and direct
approach to their subjects. Henri had earned a reputation as something
of a radical, rejecting the conventions of academic training and
encouraging his students to heed their own intuition, stressing
the importance of personal observation and instinct above the
disciplined mastery of technique....Bellows decision to paint
the tenement children who made the street their backyard and playground
may have been inspired by fellow realist George Luks, whose painting
The Spielers [Addison Gallery of American Art,
Academy, Andover, Mass.]...of 1905 was recognized by critics of
the time as 'one of the finest examples of contemporary art and
a symbol of life in the New York slums.'....Though he never became
a member of the Eight..., Bellows shared their interest in urban
life at the turn of the century. The artist's success with realist
subjects continued in many of his best works of this period, including
River Rats [private collection, Washington] of
and Forty-two Kids [The Corcoran Gallery of Art,
painted the following year.'"
Like Shinn, Bellows was not
alienated by the
upper classes and his oeuvre includes many works that portray
those better off than slum "kids." Lot 31, "The
Studio," for example, is a portrait of George Bellow's third-floor
studio at 146 East 19th Street and shows his wife, Emma Story,
posing for him, while their daughters, Anne and Jean play in the
foreground by a Christmas tree, and Bellow's mother-in-law, Mrs.
Story, and the family maid, Mabel, at the telephone in the background.
The catalogue notes that "the figure on the landing above
is probably George Miller, the printer who produced Bellows'
The painting was acquired by the Fraads in 1965 from Gerald P.
Peters in Santa Fe. Bellows liked blues and greens in many of
his compositions, of which this is one of the best. It has an
estimate of $1,500,000 to $3,000,000. It sold for $2,472,000.
The best of the Fraad Bellows
is Lot 13, "The
Knock Out," a great pastel and ink on paper that measures
21 3/4 by 28 inches. Executed in 1907, it probably depicts a scene
at Sharkey's Athletic Club on Broadway, which was across from
Bellows's studio at the time. It was a favorite subject of Bellows
and was acquired by the Fraads from Davis & Long Company in
1976. It has an estimate of $1,500,000 to $2,500,000. It sold
It is impressive that the Fraad
has such prime representative examples of Bellows's different
interests and subjects. Similarly, it is also impressive that
it has equally prime and representative examples of the work of
his final visit
to Paris in 1914, Prendergast limited his work to large-scale
canvases, emphasizing the flatness of the pictorial plane with
frieze-like arrangements of figures in idyllic holiday settings
at the seashore or in the park. Lot 44, "Marblehead Rocks,"
is a very fine Prendergast pastoral coastal scene with an especially
rich, albeit limited palette. It was acquired in 1963 by the Fraads
from the Davis Galleries in New York. It has a modest estimate
of $1,000,000 to $1,500,000. It sold for $736,000.
Lot 23 is an excellent
watercolor by Maurice
Prendergast. Entitled "The Fountain, Boston," it measures
13 by 22 1/4 inches and was executed circa 1900-1. It was acquired
by the Fraads from Hirschl & Adler Galleries in 1962. It has
an estimate of $1,200,000 to $1,800,000. It sold for
Another lovely Prendergast
watercolor is Lot
32, "Venice," which measures 18 1/2 by 15 1/4 inches.
Executed in 1898, it was acquired by the Fraads from the Maxwell
Galleries in San Francisco in 1963 and has an estimate of $1,000,000
to $1,500,000. It sold for $1,352,000.
The Fraad collection is also
notable for having
three fine works by Winslow Homer (1836-1910), although in the
case of home they are all works of young people at leisure in
pastoral settings and do not include his great Civil War paintings
and illustrations, his great marine paintings, his great Adirondack
paintings and watercolors, or his fine Bahama watercolors.
While the Sargent painting may
have the highest
price-tag in this auction, the undisputed masterpiece of the collection
is Lot 17, "Spring," by Winslow Homer, a fabulous watercolor
and pencil on paper. It measures 11 1/4 by 8 3/4 inches and was
executed in 1878 when the artist spent the summer and farm at
Houghton Farm, the home of his friend and patron, Lawson Valentine,
near Mountainville, New York. While the catalogue observes that
this work "is a charming example of the watercolors the artist
produced during this particularly prolific time," it is,
in fact, a quintessential work by America's greatest artist that
is a marvelous composition that raptuously hints at young love
and childhood romance and the lushness of America's rich countryside.
The Fraads bought this watercolor in 1966 from Hirschl & Adler
Galleries and the catalogue reproduces in color two similar and
beautiful, but inferior works in the collection of the National
Gallery of Art in Washington, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul
Mellon. This lot has a conservative estimate of $1,500,000 to
$2,500,000. It sold for $2,024,000.
Lot 39 is a very strong and
by Homer that was executed at Prout's Neck, Maine. It was acquired
by the Fraads from Hirshl & Adler Galleries in 1962. It has
an estimate of $1,500,000 to $2,500,000. It measures 14 by 20
inches and was executed in 1887. It failed to sell.
Lot 28 is a pleasant, modest
oil on canvas
by Homer entitled "Green Apples." It mesaures 15 by
11 inches and was executed in 1866. It was acquired by the Fraads
from Hirschl & Adler Galleries in 1962. It has an estimate
of $1,000,000 to $1,500,000. The composition and lighting and
brushwork are very nice, but the boy's figure and face are bit
weak by Homer's standards, but his works of this period are the
most desirable. It failed to sell.
Lot 26 is an interesting and
fine study of
Fishermen's houses in Gloucester by John H. Twachtman (1853-1902),
America's most poetic Impressionist painter. A 25-inch-square
oil on canvas, it was executed circa 1900. It was acquired by
the Fraads from Ira Spanierman in 1967. It has an estimate of
$300,000 to $500,000. It sold for $596,000.
Lot 40 is an excellent and
painting. It is a "Study for the Portrait of Miss Emily Sartain,"
by Thomas Eakins (1844-1916). An oil on canvas that measures 24
by 19 inches, it was executed circa 1890-5. It was acquired by
the Fraads from the Babcock Galleries in 1957. It has a very
estimate of $100,000 to $150,000. It sold for $198,400, the
bargain of the auction as good Eakins works are very rare.
Lot 12, "Paris
is a pleasant but not particularly important oil on panel by Guy
Pène Du Bois, an art critic who was probably also America's
best Art Deco painter. It measures 20 by 15 inches and is dated
1925. It has an estimate of $150,000 to $250,000. It sold for
$512,000, an auction record for the artist.
Lot 37, "Nude in a
is a pleasant buy not major oil on canvas by Arthur B. Davies.
It measures 32 by 24 inches and was executed circa 1908-9. It
has an estimate of $20,000 to $30,000. It sold for $108,000, an
auction record for the artist.
is an unsigned painting
that the catalogue says is by Albert Pinkham Ryder (1847-1917),
America's great abstract and poetic painter whose works are very
rare and vastly undervalued. This rather sketchy riverscape measures
9 by 13 inches and was acquired by the Fraads in 1955 from the
Babcock Galleries. It has an estimate of $40,000 to $60,000. It
sold for $209,600, an auction record for the artist.