2005 American Paintings auction at Sotheby's is highlighted by
a group of historical portraits consigned by the New York Public
Library, which last year sold Asher B. Durand's Kindred
to an heir of the Walmart fortune for about $35 million. Kindred
Spirits is now on loan to the National Gallery of Art in Washington,
D.C. The sale was controversial because Kindred Spirits
is Durand's masterpiece, an icon of 19th Century American landscape
painting and the most valuable painting in the library's collection
and because some observers do not think that public collections
consigned by the library for this auction carry ambitious estimates:
Lot 3, for
example, "George Washington (The Constable-Hamilton Portrait),"
is a fine portrait by Gilbert Stuart (1755-1828). An oil on canvas,
it measures 50 by 40 inches and was executed in Philadelphia in
1797. The painting was once in the collection of Alexander Hamilton
and a marble bust of Alexander Hamilton by Giuseppe Ceracchi will
accompany the sale of this lot as it accompanied the original
bequest by Hamilton's descendants to the Astor Library. The portrait
had been commissioned by William Kerin Constable (a New York merchant
and landowner) as a gift for Alexander Hamilton, who was Washington's
first Secretary of the Treasury.
has an estimate of $10,000,000 to $15,000,000. It sold for
$8,136,000 including the buyer's premium as do all results mentioned
in this article.
Lot 5 is
a large and full-length portrait of Washington by Stuart and is
known as "The Munro-Lenox Portrait." An oil on canvas,it
measures 95 by 64 inches and was painted circa 1800. It has an
estimate of $6,000,000 to $8,000,000. It failed to sell.
Lot 6 is
an appealing portrait of George Washington by James Peale (1749-1831).
An oil on canvas, it measures 36 by 27 inches and was painted
after 1787. It has a very conservative estimate of $200,000 to
$300,000. It sold for $531,200. The catalogue notes
there are two known versions of this work and that this one is
"likely the original," adding that Peale borrowed from
two different sources to create this half-portrait of the first
President in military dress. The head and shoulders are after
the portrait of Washington by his brother Charles Willson Peale,
which was painted for the Continental Congress in 1787....The
inclusion of the horse and attendant is borrowed from Charles
Willson's Washington at the Battle of Princteon of 1779...,
and according to Rembrandt Peale, the artist's nephew, the attendant
is a self-portrait by James."
non-Presidential portraits in the New York Public Library consignment
as well. Lot 9, for example, is a fine portrait of Mrs. Robert
Hooper (Hannah White Cowell) by John Singleton Copley (1738-1815).
An oil on canvas, it measures 49 1/4 by 39 1/4 inches and was
painted circa 1767. It has an estimate of $1,000,000 to $1,500,000.
It failed to sell.
not consigned by the library included an excellent drawing by
John Singer Sargent of his famous "El Jaleo" painting
in the collection of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston,
a large and good Venetian scene by Sargent, a superb painting
by Grant Wood, a good painting by Stuart Davis, a nice Marsden
Hartley landscape, good drawings by Seth Eastman and Thomas Moran,
and pleasant works by Childe Hassam, Theodore Robinson, Charles
Sheeler, Edward Moran, John La Farge and Maurice Prendergast.
excellent work from the library is Lot 2, "Winter Scene in
Brooklyn," by Francis Guy (1760-1820). Works by Guy are very
rare on the market. This oil on canvas measures 41 by 64 1/2 inches
and was painted circa 1817-1820. It has a very modest estimate
of $200,000 to $300,000. It sold for $1,024,000.
the real prize of the auction is Lot 41, "Sketch after 'El
Jaleo,'" the great and famous painting by John Singer Sargent
(1856-1925) in the collection of the Isabella Stewart Gardner
Museum in Boston. A sepia ink on paper, it measures 9 by 14 inches.
It has a very modest estimate of $125,000 to $175,000. It
"The Rialto," is a dramatic and large Venetian scene
by John Singer Sargent. An oil on canvas, it measures 21 1/2 by
26 inches and was painted circa 1909. It is property from the
estate of Leonard Green and is sold for the benefit of The Green
Foundation for the support of the arts, education, and
resarch. It was acquired at Sotheby's December 3, 1997 when it
sold for about $2.2 million. Despite some condition problems,
it has a conservative estimate of $3,000,000 to $4,000,000. It
sold for $3,712,000.
Lot 31 is
a good work by Stuart Davis (1892-1964) entitled "Rue de
l'Echaudé." An oil and sand on canvas, it measures
23 3/4 by 36 1/4 inches and was painted in 1928. It is property
from the collection of Josephine and Walter Buhl Ford II. It has
an estimate of $1,000,000 to $1,500,000. It sold for
Another artist who rarely
appears on the auction
block is Grant Wood (1892-1942). Lot 29 is a fine example of his
very stylized oeuvre. Entitled "Spring Plowing," it
is an oil on board that measures 18 1/4 by 22 inches. Executed
in 1932, it has a somewhat ambitious estimate of $3,000,000 to
$5,000,000. It sold for $6,960,000. This is a fine
that is almost in the puffy, curvilinear style of Thomas Hart
Rondel (1826-1892) was a teacher of Winslow Homer and is known
mostly for bucolic landscapes. Lot 141, however, is a colorful
and good depiction of the "Statue of Liberty Celebration."
An oil on canvas, it measures 40 1/4 by 52 inches. It is property
of the estate of Laurance S. Rockefeller, who acquired it from
the Hammer Galleries in New York. It has a conservative estimate
of $80,000 to $120,000. It sold for $352,000.
Lot 18 is
a very strong and good oil on panel by Childe Hassam (1859-1935)
entitled "Montauk Light." It measures 10 1/4 inches
square and was painted in 1927. It has a conservative estimate
of $40,000 to $60,000. It sold for $102,000.
B. Prendergast (1858-1924) is presented by two very good watercolors,
Lots 24 and 25, both of which are property from the estate of
Laurance S. Rockefeller. The former is a scene of "Central
Park" and it measures 14 by 19 3/4 inches and is dated 1901.
It has an estimate of $150,000 to $200,000. It sold for
The latter, which is much more vibrant, is entitled "The
Paris Omnibus." It measures 12 by 18 inches and was executed
in 1904. It has a very conservative estimate of $80,000 to $120,000.
It sold for $168,000.
Lot 26 is
a large tempera, pencil and gold leaf on incised gessoed panel
three-part screen by Charles Prendergast (1863-1948). It also
comes from the estate of Laurance S. Rockefeller. Each screen
measures 68 by 27 inches and they were executed circa 1928-1932.
The screen has an estimate of $400,000 to $600,000. It sold
Sheeler is one of America's great modernist and precisionist painters.
Lot 35 is entitled "View of New York," and is a good
tempera on plexiglass that measures only 7 3/4 by 6 1/4 inches.
Executed in 1961, it has a modest estimate of $80,000 to $120,000.
It failed to sell.
Lot 37 is
a good landscape by Marsden Hartley (1878-1943) entitled "Mountain,
Number 21." An oil on canvas, it measures 34 by 30 inches
and was painted 1929-1930. It is being sold by the Whitney Museum
of American Art and the museum had been given it by Mr. and Mrs.
Herman Schneider in 1967. It has an estimate of $800,000 to $1,200,000.
It sold for $828,000.
A more intriguing
Hartley is Lot 83, "Boat with Silver Star." This is
an oil painted and a quite deep wooden bowl that is 14 inches
in diameter. It was painted circa 1916-7. It has a modest estimate
of $200,000 to $300,000. It sold for $240,000.
"The Ferry," is a very pleasant, small New York harbor
scene by Theodore Robinson (1852-1896). An oil on canvas, it measures
8 1/4 by 15 3/4 inches and was painted circa 1895. It has a very
modest estimate of $50,000 to $70,000. It sold for $96,000.
Miller (1810-1874) is the most romantic of the early painters
of the American West and Lot 165 is a lovely watercolor, gouache
and pencil on paper work by him. Entitled "Crow Indian on
the Lookout," it measures 12 1/2 by 9 1/2 inches and has
a modest estimate of $70,000 to $90,000. It sold for $144,000.
It sold at Christie's December 5,2002 for $83,650 when its estimate
was $30,000 to $50,000.
great early Western watercolor is Lot 206, "Striking the
Post," by Seth Eastman (1808-1875). It measures 6 by 8 1/2
inches but is highly detailed and very fine. It was drawn in 1852.
It has a modest estimate of $80,000 to $120,000. It failed
is a fine watercolor, gouache and pencil on paper by Thomas Moran
(1837-1926) of "Tower Falls and Sulphur Mountain, Yellowstone."
It measures 9 1/2 by 13 inches and was drawn in 1872. Moran's
Western watercolors are almost as prized as his major Western
scene paintings. This has a rather modest estimate of $300,000
to $500,000. It sold for $553,600.
"Monterey Coast," is a large and fine oil on canvas
by Moran of the "Monterey Coast." It measures 30 by
40 inches and was painted in 1912. It is property from the estate
of Leonard Green and sold for the benefit of The Green Foundation.
It has an estimate of $750,000 to $1,000,000. It sold for
is a large and impressive oil on canvas by Frederic Remington
(1861-1909). Entitled "An Old Time Northern Plains Indian
- The Coup," it was painted circa 1890 and was painted to
accompany "Some American Riders," a story by Colonel
Theodore Ayrault Dodge that was published in Harper's Monthly
in 1891. One of the later painters to focus on the West, Remington
can be uneven, but he was especially good at painting horses and
this is a very dramatic and handsome painting. It has a rather
modest estimate of $700,000 to $1,000,000. It failed to sell.
is a bit weak on 19th Century landscapes but Lot 165, "A
Summer Evening," by Francis A. Silva (1835-1886) stands out.
An oil on canvas that measures 20 by 36 inches, it was painted
in 1880. Silva is a fine Luminist painter and this work is very
lush. It has an estimate of $500,000 to $700,000. It sold for
(1827-1908) is a fine Hudson River School painter best known for
the precision and clarity of his paintings, especially his small
works. Lots 150 and 151 are oils on canvas that both measure 10
by 14 3/4 and depict groups of young elm trees, one with the artist's
wife sitting beneath one of the trees. These are lovely and each
painting has a modest estimate of $20,000 to $30,000. Lot 150
sold for $69,000. Lot 151 sold for $73,000.
Farge (1835-1910) is one of the more important artists of the
"American Renaissance" who is best known for his murals
and works in stained glass. Lot 22 is a very fine Tonalist-like
lanscape by him that was executed in 1874. Entitled "Winter
Thaw," it is an oil on panel and measures 9 1/4 by 12 inches.
It has a modest estimate of $40,000 to $60,000. It sold for
is a excellent and very amusing painting by William Holbrook Beard
(1823-1900), entitled "School Rules." An oil on canvas,
it measures 18 by 24 inches and depicts numerous animals standing
in a line before a seated monkey holding a switch, all dressed
in human clothing. It was painted in 1887 and has an estimate
of $70,000 to $100,000. It sold for $298,000.