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American Paintings, Drawings & Sculpture

Christie's

December 1, 2005

Sale 1578

"U.S.O. Show" by Lawrence

Lot 136, "U.S.O. Show," by Jacob Lawrence, gouache and watercolor on paper, 21 3/4 by 30 inches, 1945

By Carter B. Horsley

The Fall 2005 American Paintings auction at Christie's is highlighted by a superb work by Jacob Lawrence (1917-2000), two good paintings by Stuart Davis, a very nice painting by Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902), a very good Mary Cassatt, a wonderful Louis Ritman and good Louis Comfort Tiffany, a lovely work by Alfred Thompson Bricher (1837-1908), and an fine George de Forest Brush (1855-1941).

Jacob Lawrence (see The City Review article) was a very important American artist with a great flair for composition and social comment. His brightly colored works are a blend of realism and abstraction and have a kindred spirit with the oeuvres of Stuart Davis and Ben Shahn, but his inventive eye places him with Monet in the pantheon of those artists gifted with infinite riches of compositional creativity. He was the subject of an excellent retrospective exhibition that was shown at the Whitney Museum of American Art from November 8, 2001-February 3, 2002.

Lot 136, "U.S.O. show," is a 21 3/4-by-30-inch gouache and watercolor on paper that Lawrence painted in 1945 while on duty with the U. S. Coast Guard. It has a conservative estimate of $200,000 to $300,000 and is clearly one of his masterpieces, a work that resonates with the the spirit of the Jazz Age, Art Deco, and Lawrence's simple but elegant style. The work has been widely exhibited and has considerable literature. The catalogue entry for the work quotes an article from the Whitney Museum exhibition catalogue about the artist's World War II pictures from the Christian Science Monitor that notes that "there is some abstraction, some primitive mannerism, and much expressionistic vigor." It failed to sell.

"Still Life with Flowers" by Davis

Lot 22, "Still Life with Flowers," by Stuart Davis, oil on canvas, 40 by 32 inches, 1930

The cover illustration of the catalogue is Lot 22, "Still Life with Flowers," an oil on canvas by Stuart Davis. It measures 40 by 32 inches and was painted in 1930. It is property of the New Trier Township High School, District 203, Winnetka," the catalogue noted, "to represent the United States abroad in the 1946-7 exhibition, Advancing American Art. Although the exhibition was well-received abroad, the abstract qualities of the works and the assumption by congressmen of leftist sympathies held by many of the artists forced the exhibition to close and the paintings returned to the United States. Subsequnetly, the paintings were sold in 1948 to tax supported instituitons, where the work has remained until today."

The exhibition had a preview at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and other artists in the exhibition wre Georgia O'Keeffe, Charles Sheeler, Max Weber, Adolph Gottlieb, Philip Guston, Marsden hartley, and Arthur Dove.

The lot has an estimate $2,000,000 to $3,000,000. It sold for $3,152,000 including the buyer's premium as do all results mentioned in this article. About 76 percent of the offered lots sold for a total of $31,757,000, about half the total sold the day before at Sotheby's.

"Yellow Café" by Davis

Lot 23, "Yellow Café," by Stuart Davis, oil on canvas, 12 by 17 inches, 1930

Lot 23 is a nice, small oil on canvas by Stuart Davis, entitled "Yellow Café." It measures 12 by 17 inches and was executed in 1930. It was formerly in the collections of S. J. Perelman and Barney Ebsworth. It has an estimate of $250,000 to $350,000. It failed to sell.

"Mother and Two Children" by Cassatt

Lot 48, "Mother and Two Children," by Mary Cassatt, oil on canvas, 29 1/4 by 36 1/4 inches, 1906

Lot 48 is a classic and excellent oil on canvas by Mary Cassatt. Entitled "Mother and Two Children," it was painted in 1906 and measures 29 1/4 by 36 1/4 inches. It is the back-cover illustration of the catalogue and is being sold "for the benefit of a university art museum," according to the catalogue. It has a somewhat ambitious estimate of $3,000,000 to $5,000,000. It sold for $4,272,000.

"Sunglow" by Bierstadt

Lot 99, "Sunglow," by Albert Bierstadt, oil on board, 14 by 20 inches

Lot 99 is a superb small oil on board by Albert Biertstadt, entitled "Sunglow." It measures 14 by 20 inches and has a very modest estimate of $150,000 to $200,000. It sold for $486,400. It is distinguished by a marvelous sense of light and its strong and complex composition. "Famed for his majestic landscapes of the West, Albert Bierstadt creates in his painting Sunglow one of his most subtly luminous and atmospheric works. The light is rich and vivid, emphasizing Bierstadt's vision of he west as an untouched, American Eden," the catalogue entry for this lot observed, adding that the painting "stands out in Bierstadt's oeuvre for the understated reverence of the scene...."

"Council of the War Party" by Brush

Lot 102, "Council of the War Party," by George de Forest Brush, oil on canvas, 14 3/4 by 28 3/4 inches, 1886

Lot 102 is a majestic painting entitled "Council of the War Party" by George de Forest Brush. Although only medium in size - it is 14 3/4 by 28 3/4 inches - it has a monumental quality and nobility that rises above its brilliant academic technique. Brush studied at the National Academy of Design in New York from 1870 to 1874 and with Abbott Thayer then studied in Paris with Jean-Léon Gerome. He returned after six years to join his brother in Wyoming and by 1881 lived with the Shoshone and Arapahoe tribes before moving to Montana to live with the Crow Indians and contributed pictures of Native Americans to Harper's and Century magazines.

The catalogue provides the following commentary:

"Council of the War Party is conceived with an integrity and introspection that would distinguish Brush from his peers....With its reflective mood and expansive composition, Council of the War Party represents Brush's homage to the Plains Indian. He has depicted his figures with a heroic monumentality calling attention to the harmony between native people and nature. ...Council of the War Party stands as an artistic...triumph from from one of America's most distinguished and thoughtful artists...."

The work has a conservative estimate of $300,000 to $500,000. It sold for $2,592,000.

"Early Autumn on Long Island" by Bricher

Lot 67, "Early Autumn on Long Island," by Alfred Thompson Bricher, oil on canvas, 26 by 48 inches, circa 1886-1890

Alfred Thompson Bricher is best known for his coastal scenes that are invariably picturesque and handsome although often too formulaic. His non-coastal scenes, however, often have more interesting compositions and charm and Lot 67, "Early Autumn on Long Island," is such an excellent example. The catalogue notes that in 1881 "on the occasion of his second marriage to Alice Robinson, Bricher made Southampton, Long Island, his summer home and found a new enthusiasm for large scaleworks that further explored his familiar seaside imagery, while expanding on his figural works from the 1870s." "In Early Autumm on Long Island," it continued, "Bricher has created a rare scene mingling landscape and narrative composed of a subdued fall palette and shimmering layers of laihgt painted over an underlying geometric composition." It has an estimate of $120,000 to $180,000. It sold for $120,000.

"After a Summer Shower" by Durand

Lot 69, "After a Summer Shower," by Asher B. Durand, oil on canvas, 25 by 36 1/4 inches

Lot 69 is a good and large, unsigned oil on canvas by Asher B. Durand (1796-1886). It measures 25 by 36 1/4 inches and the catalogue notes that it "relates to two notable works by the artist, The Beeches (1845, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York), and Pastoral Landscape (1861, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.) It has an estimate of $40,000 to $60,000. It sold for $114,000.

"Entrance to Newport Harbor" by Kensett

Lot 66, "Entrance to Newport Harbor," by John F. Kensett, oil on canvas, 14 by 24 inches

Lot 66 is a nice, small coastal scene by John F. Kensett (1816-1872) that is dated 1855. It depicts the "Entrance to Newport Harbor," and is a view that he often depicted, although usually without the rocky foreground. It has a slightly ambitious estimate of $400,000 to $600,000. It sold for $1,248,000.

"At Shinnecock Hills" by Chase

Lot 35, "At Shinnecock Hills," by William Merritt Chase, oil on canvas, 25 3/4 by 32 1/2 inches

William Merritt Chase (1849-1916) is one of the major American Impressionists and he spent much time in Shinnecock on Long Island. Lot 35, "At Shinnecock Hills," is a large oil on canvas by Chase that measures 25 3/4 by 32 1/2 inches. It is quite an abstract composition with a muted palette and not one of Chase's masterpieces although it is pleasant. It has an estimate of $400,000 to $600,000. It was passed at $280,000.

"Interior by Ritman, left, and "Prosperine" by Hiram Powers, right

Lot 54, "Interior," by Louis Ritman, oil on canvas, 32 inches square, 1918, left, and Lot 79, "Prosperine," by Hiram Powers, marble, 22 inches high, circa 1849, left

Louis Ritman was one of a few prominent American artists who spent time in Giverny, France, and espoused a jewelly and exotic palette combined with considerable painterliness. The other well-known artists were Richard Miller, perhaps the best of the group, and Frederick Frieseke. Lot 54, "Interior," is a wonderful example of Ritman's lush style and boldly patterned compositions. An oil on canvas that is 32 inches square, it was executed in 1918. It has a modest estimate of $200,000 to $300,000. It sold for $240,000. The catalogue notes that the work is a fine example of "intimism" and that "The artist's unique celebration of the vibrant patterns and texutres of interior furnishings - wallpaper, upholstery, carpeting, and also costume - set his work apart from the Intimist interiors of his American peers."

The auction has two wonderful female busts by Hiram Powers (1805-1873), one of America's great sculptors. Lot 79, "Prosperine," is a marble bust that is 22 inches high. It was executed circa 1849 and has a modest estimate of $100,000 to $150,000. It sold for $90,000. Power's works are usually executed in perfect white marble, as is the case here. Lot 80, "Ginerva," is 26 1/2 inches high and even more lovely than Lot 79 because of the excellent drapery. It has a very conservative estimate of $30,000 to $50,000. It sold for $114,000.

"Boys Fishing" by Tiffany

Lot 64, "Boys Fishing," by Louis Comfort Tiffany, oil on board, 16 by 20 inches, circa 1900

Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933) is best known for his design of lamps and exotic glasses, but he was an excellent painter although his oeuvre is relatively small and his paintings, indeed, are rarer than his lamps. Lot 64 is a very nice oil on board entitled "Boys Fishing." It measures 16 by 20 inches and was executed circa 1900. It has a modest estimate of $60,000 to $80,000. It sold for $120,000.

"Head of Minerva" by Vedder

Lot 44, "Head of Minerva," by Elihu Vedder, oil on canvas, 49 1/4 by 31 1/2 inches, 1896

Lot 44, "Head of Minerva," is a large study by Elihu Vedder (1846-1923) for the mosaic, Minerva, in the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. The catalogue observes that it "directly relates to the full length study of the same title in the collection of the J. B. Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky." It has a modest estimate of $30,000 to $50,000. It sold for $28,800.

See The City Review article on the Fall 2005 American Paintings auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2005 American Paintings auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2005 American Paintings auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2004 American Paintings auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2003 American Paintings auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2003 American Paintings auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2003 American Paintings auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2003 American Paintings auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2002 American Paintings Auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on The Fall 2002 American Paintings auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2002 American Paintings auction at Phillips de Pury & Luxembourg

See The City Review article on the Spring 2002 American Paintings auction at Phillips de Pury &

Luxembourg

See The City Review on the Spring 2002 American Paintings auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2001 American Paintings Auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2001 American Paintings auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2001 American Paintings auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2001 American Paintings auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2001 American Paintings auction at Phillips de Pury & Luxembourg

See The City Review article on the Fall 2000 American Paintings auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2000 American Paintings auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2000 American Paintings auction at Phillips

See The City Review article on the Spring 2000 American Paintings auction at Christie's

See The City Review Article on the Spring 2000 American Paintings auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall 1999 American Paintings auction at Christie's

See The City Review on the Fall 1999 American Paintings auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review Article on the Spring 1999 American Paintings auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the May 27, 1999 auction of American Paintings at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall 1998 Important American Paintings Auctions at Sotheby’s and Christie’s

See The City Review article on the Spring 1998 Important American Paintings Auctions at Sotheby’s and Christie’s

See The City Review article on the Fall 1997 Important American Paintings auctions at Sotheby's and Christie's

See The City Review article on the Spring 1997 Important American Paintings auctions at Sotheby's and Christie's


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