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American Paintings, Drawings & Sculpture

Sotheby's

10 AM, November 29, 2006

Sale 8249

"Winter on the Hudson River near Catskill, New York" by Church

Lot 115, "Winter on the Hudson River near Catskill, New York," by Frederic Edwin Church, oil on paper, 8 by 10 inches, circa 1868

By Carter B. Horsley

The November 29, 2006 American Paintings auction at Sotheby's has a diverse group of good paintings in many categories and is highlighted by a great snow scene sketch by Frederic Edwin Church, three very fine genre paintings, an excellent Western scene by Worthington Whittredge, an impressive ocean picture by Thomas Moran, a fine painting by Edward Steichen, a very good landscape by Dwight Tryon, a pleasant Mary Cassatt, two impressive drawings by William Glackens, two fine watercolors by Maurice Prendergast, a large painting by Edward Hopper, an important sculpture by Paul Manship, a good Grandma Moses, and two good paintings by Norman Rockwell.

The jewel of the auction is Lot 115, "Winter on the Hudson River near Catskill, New York," by Frederic Edwin Church (1826-1900), depicting a scene near his famous home, Olana. An oil on paper, it measures 8 by 10 inches and was painted about 1868. Though small, this work has a magnificent sweep and fabulous light. It has a very conservative estimate of $60,000 to $80,000. It sold for $660,000 including the buyer's premium as do all results mentioned in this article.

The sale only sold about 72.7 percent of the offered lots, but many lots sold considerably over their high estimates and the sale total was a very impressive $82,805,200.

"The Peddler (Nantucket)" by Johnson

Lot 123, "The Peddler (Nantucket)," by Eastman Johnson, oil on board, 18 by 22 1/2 inches, 1873

Lot 123 is a great genre painting by Eastman Johnson (1824-1906) that is entitled "The Peddler (Nantucket)." It is on oil on board that measures 18 by 22 1/2 inches and was painted in 1873. The subject was popular with the artist and there are numerous studies of the figures. This is a great composition and very painterly. It has a modest estimate of $300,000 to $500,000. It sold for $352,000.

"Warming Her Hands," by Johnson

Lot 141, "Warming Her Hands," by Eastman Johnson, oil on canvas, 18 by 14 1/4 inches, 1871

The consolation prize for those who fail to get Lot 123 is Lot 141, "Warming Her Hands," a charming picture by Eastman Johnson that is an oil on canvas that measures 18 by 14 1/4 inches. Painted in 1871, it has an estimate of $200,000 to $300,000. It sold for $329,600, which is rather remarkable considering that it was smaller and not as great a composition as Lot 123.

"Sunday Morning," by Wood

Lot 142, "Sunday Morning," by Thomas Waterman Wood," oil on panel, 19 3/4 by 15 3/4 inches, 1877

Thomas Waterman Wood (1812-1913) was a good genre painter, though not in the same league as Johnson, but here, in one of his very best works, he comes close in "Sunday Morning," Lot 142. An oil on panel that measures 19 3/4 by 15 3/4 inches, it is dated 1877. It has a very conservative estimate of $25,000 to $35,000. It failed to sell!

"Camping for the Night on Mansfield Mountain" by Gifford

Lot 124, "Camping for the Night on Mansfield Mountain," by Sanford Robinson Gifford, oil on canvas, 10 by 16 1/2 inches, circa 1860

Lot 124 is a good night scene entitled "Camping for the Night on Mansfield Mountain" by Sanford Robinson Gifford. An oil on canvas, it measures 10 by 16 1/2 inches and was painted circa 1860. It has been consigned by the Adirondack Museum and has an estimate of $300,000 to $500,000. It failed to sell.

"A Norther in the Gulf of Mexico" by Moran

Lot 174, "A Norther in the Gulf of Mexico," by Thomas Moran, oil on canvas, 25 by 51 inches, 1884

Lot 174 is a marvelous stormy seascape by Thomas Moran (1837-1926) that is entitled "A Norther in the Gulf of Mexico." An oil on canvas, it measures 25 by 51 inches and is dated 1884. It has a modest estimate of $400,000 to $500,000. It failed to sell.

"Beached Ship" by Bierstadt

Lot 121, "Beached Ship," by Albert Bierstadt, oil on canvas, 17 by 23 1/2 inches, 1859

Lot 121 is a very fine and dramatic seascape entitled "Beached Ship" by Albert Bierstadt (1930-1902). An oil on canvas, it measures 17 by 23 1/2 inches and was painted in 1859. It has a conservative estimate of $125,000 to $175,000. It failed to sell.

"Shipping on the Hudson" by Colman

Lot 122, "Shipping on the Hudson," by Samuel Colman, oil on canvas, 15 by 24 1/4 inches

Samuel Colman (1832-1920) is an often overlooked, but very competent Hudson River School painter who traveled extensively. Lot 122, "Shipping on the Hudson," is a fine and very dramatic work by him that is an oil on canvas that measures 15 by 24 1/4 inches. It has a modest estimate of $50,000 to $70,000. It sold for $192,000.

"Sunset" by Tryon

Lot 80, "Sunset," by Dwight William Tryon, oil on panel, 12 by 16 inches, 1919

Dwight William Tryon (1849-1925) is a great Tonalist painter and Lot 80, "Sunset," is one of his most colorful, beautiful and poetic works. An oil on panel, it measures 12 by 16 inches and was executed in 1919. It has a very modest estimate of $15,000 to $25,000. It sold for $48,000.

"On the Platte River" by Whittredge

Lot 202, "On the Platte River," by Worthington Whittredge, oil on canvas, 14 3/4 by 22 1/2 inches

Worthington Whittredge was not only a major Hudson River School painter but also an important painter of Western landscapes, especially around the Platte River. Lot 202 is one of the finest Platte River paintings and is an oil on canvas that measures 14 3/4 by 22 1/2 inches. It has a modest estimate of $350,000 to $400,000. It sold for $408,000.

"Moonlight in the Garden at Versailles" by Steichen

Lot 74, "Moonlight in the Garden at Versailles," by Edward Steichen, oil on canvas, 15 by 18 inches, 1902

Edward Steichen, the great photographer, was a magnificent Tonalist painter. Lot 74, "Moonlight in the Garden at Versailles," is a good example of his somber but romantic poetry in paint. An oil on canvas, it measures 15 by 18 inches and was painted in 1902. It has an extremely conservative estimate, given the rarity of his paintings, of $25,000 to $35,000. It sold for $36,000.

"Children Playing with a Cat" by Cassatt

Lot 136, "Children Playing with a Cat," by Mary Cassatt, oil on canvas, 32 by 39 1/2 inches, 1908

Lot 136, "Children Playing with a Cat," is a charming and very good work by Mary Cassatt (1845-1926). An oil on canvas, it measures 32 by 39 1/2 inches and was painted in 1908. It has a modest estimate of $2,000,000 to $3,000,000 since it sold at Sotheby's December 3, 1998 for $2,972,500. It sold for $3,376,000.

"Admiral Farragut Statue, Madison Square" by Shinn

Lot 4, "Admiral Farragut Statue, Madison Square," by Everett Shinn, pastel on board, 18 by 24 inches, 1943

The auction has a nice collection of works by the Ash Can School and related artists. Lot 4, for example, is a fine pastel on board by Everett Shinn (1876-1953) that is entitled "Admiral Farragut Statue, Madison Square." It measures 18 by 24 inches and was drawn in 1943. While it was executed relatively late in his career, it has all the earmarks of his classic, dashing style and for those who enjoy a good drink under his large paintings at the Oak Bar in the Plaza Hotel this is a nice New York scene by this facile, theatrical and gifted artist. It was consigned by the Collection of Arthur G. Altshul. It has a modest estimate of $70,000 to $90,000. It sold for $180,000.

Another Shinn from the Altschul Collection is Lot 3, "Street Fight," a pastel on board that measures 18 by 22 inches. Executed in 1910, it is a fine work and has a modest estimate of $100,000 to $150,000. It sold for $262,400.

The Football Game by Glackens

Lot 11, "For The Championship of the Back-Lot League (The Football Game)," by William J. Glackens, black ink and watercolor on paper, 23 by 17 inches, 1911

There are also two great drawings by William J. Glackens (1970-1938) that have also been consigned by the Altschl Collection. Lot 11, "For the Championship of the Back-lot League (The Football Game)," is a black ink and watercolor on paper that measures 23 by 17 inches. Executed in 1911, it is a very colorful and raucous scene that wonderful displays the illustrative foundation of the Ash Can School. It has a modest estimate of $100,000 to $150,000. It sold for $216,000.

Almost as much fun is Lot 10, "Curb Exchange No. 2," a crowded Financial District scene by Glackens that was executed circa 1907-1910. A crayon and watercolor on paper, it measures 24 1/2 by 17 1/2 inches. It has an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000. It sold for $228,000.

Lot 8, "Hughie The Poet," a very poetic and vibrant portrait by Robert Henri (1865-1929) sold for $800,000, four times its high estimate. It is an oil on canvas that measures 24 by 20 inches and was painted in 1924.

Lot 156, "The Porch with the Old Mosaics, St. Mark's, Venice," by Maurice Prendergast, watercolor and pencil on paper, 16 by 11 1/4 inches, circa 1898-9

Lot 156 is a very good Venetian scene by Maurice Prendergast (1858-1924). Entitled "The Porch with the Old Mosaics, St. Mark's, Venice," it is a watercolor and pencil on paper that measures 16 by 11 1/4 inches and was executed circa 1898-9. It has a modest estimate of $300,000 to $500,000. It sold for $587,200.

"West Church, Boston" by Prendergast

Lot 149, "West Church, Boston," by Maurice B. Prendergast, watercolor on paper, 22 1/4 by 15 1/4 inches, circa 1900-1

Another excellent watercolor by Prendergast is Lot 149, "West Church, Boston." It measures 22 1/4 by 15 1/4 inches and was painted circa 1900-1. It is in excellent condition with strong colors. It has an estimate of $1,500,000 to $2,000,000 and was consigned by the Collection of Arthur G. Altschul. It sold for $1,920,000.

"East River, New York, Winter" by de Voll

Lot 79, "East River, New York, Winter," by Frederick Usher de Voll, oil on canvas, 32 by 36 inches

Lot 79 is a very impressive New York snow scene entitled "East River, New York, Winter," by Frederick Usher de Voll (1873-1941). It is immensely better than any of the ubiquitous and boring and not well done New York snow scenes by Guy Wiggins. An oil on canvas, it measures 32 by 36 inches. It was exhibited by the Panama-Pacific Exposition in 1915 in San Francisco where it was awarded a silver medal and is distinguished by its remarkable treatment of falling snow. It has an estimate of $30,000 to $50,000. It sold for $66,000.

"Harvest Moon (Marsh and Meadow)" by Hassam

Lot 66, "Harvest Moon (Marsh and Meadow)," by Childe Hassam, oil on canvas, 18 by 22 inches, circa 1903

Lot 66 is a superb impressionistic landscape by Childe Hassam (1859-1935) that is entitled "Harvest Moon (Marsh and Meadow)." An oil on canvas, it measures 18 by 22 inches and was painted circa 1903. It has an estimate of $300,000 to $500,000. It sold for $363,200.

"Carnival of Autumn" by Hartley

Lot 39, "Carnival of Autumn," by Marsden Hartley, oil on board laid down on panel, 12 inches square, 1908-9

Lot 39 is a spectacular small landscape painting by Marsden Hartley (1878-1943) that is entitled "Carnival of Autumn." An oil on board laid down on panel, it is 12 inches square and was painted in 1908-9.

"Hartley's newfound command of color and confidence in exploring formal relationshps is unmistakable in Carnival in Autumn," the catalogue entry for the lot notes, adding that "He channels nature's latent power into muscular forms virtually resisting each other within the confines of the pictue plane." "The mountains, sky and clouds, activated by staccato brushstrokes and vibrant color, are packed into the scene, creating a formal tension he would continue to explore thoughout his career. The birches are evidence of his disinterest in Western conventions of perspective; acting as a screen-like device, they at once suggest and deny recession into space." The brushwork in this work is sensational. It has a very modest estimate of $200,000 to $300,000. It sold for $318,400.

"Lemons" by Hartley

Lot 48, "Lemons," by Marsden Hartley, oil on board, 24 by 19 1/2 inches, 1928

Lot 48, is a very vibrant and strong still life entitled "Lemons" by Marsden Hartley. An oil on board, it measures 24 by 19 1/2 inches and was painted in 1928. It has a modest estimate of $300,000 to $400,000. It sold for $464,000.

"Ghost Ranch Cliffs," by O'Keeffe

Lot 53, "Ghost Ranch Cliffs," by Georgia O'Keeffe, oil on canvas, 16 by 30 inches, 1952

Lot 53, "Ghost Ranch Cliffs," is a good landscape by Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1986). An oil on canvas, it measures 16 by 30 inches and was executed in 1952. It has a very conservative estimate of $350,000 to $450,000. It sold for $430,000.

"After-study" by Davis

Lot 25, "After-study," by Stuart Davis, oil on canvasboard, 16 by 12 inches, 1959

Lot 25 is a fine oil on canvasboard by Stuart Davis (1892-1964). Entitled "After-study," it is an oil on canvasboard that measures 16 by 12 inches and was executed in 1959. The catalogue notes that is relates to two 1955 works, each 56 1/2 by 44 inches, by the artist: "Ready-to-Wear" at the Art Institute of Chicago and "Cliché" at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. The lot has a modest estimate of $200,000 to $300,000. It sold for $716,000.

"Landscape with Red Spotlight" by Davis

Lot 52, "Landscape with Red Spotlight," by Stuart Davis, oil on canvas, 20 by 28 inches, 1932

Lot 52 is a good oil on canvas by Stuart Davis that is entitled "Landscape with Red Spotlight." It measures 20 by 28 inches and was painted in 1932. It has an estimate of $300,000 to $500,000. It sold for $564,800.

"Glare of Night" by Bluemner

Lot 17, "Glare of Night," by Oscar Bluemner, watercolor and gouache on paper, 9 1/2 by 12 3/4 inches, 1925

Lot 17 is a very good watercolor and gouache on paper by Oscar Bluemner (1867-1938) that is entitled "Glare of Night." While it has not as bold and vibrant as his strongest works, it has a very composition hightlighted by the titled post and the curved skyline and anchored by the marvelous tree. It measures 9 1/2 by 12 3/4 inches and was executed in 1925. It has an estimate of $125,000 to $175,000. It sold for $144,000.

"Hotel Window" by Hopper

Lot 34, "Hotel Window," by Edward Hopper, oil on canvas, 40 by 55 inches, 1955

There are some people who consider Edward Hopper (1882-1967) to be America's greatest painter. This observer, however, would place him considerably behind Winslow Homer, Thomas Cole, Thomas Eakins, Albert Pinkham Ryder, Georgia O'Keeffe, just to rattle off some obvious names. Lot 34, "Hotel Window," is a good, representative work by Hopper that has a rather dynamic composition and good palette and its subject is thematically strong on the artist's interest in alienation and loneliness. Like many, but not all, of his paintings, it is not very painterly. The woman is far too elegant for the humble, albeit, spacious hotel room. It was formerly in the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Fleischman of Detroit, the Thyssen-Bornermisza Collection in Lugano, and the Forbes Magazine Collection in New York and such provenance helps explain its estimate of $10,000,000 to $15,000,000. The lot, which has been widely exhibited, is the cover illustration of the catalogue.

It sold for $26,896,000, an astounding price that was met with a loud burst of applause in the very crowded auction room.

"Celestial Sphere" by Manship

Lot 22, "Celestial Sphere," by Paul Howard Manship, bronze, parcel gilt, on a marble base, 26 inches high, 1934

Lot 22 is an impressive bronze and parcel gilt sculpture entitled "Celestial Sphere" by Paul Howard Manship (1885-1966). It is 26 inches high and was executed in 1934. Other examples of this version of the work are at the Fogg Art Museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the St. Louis Art Museum. In 1939, Manship created a much larger version that is known as the Wilson Memorial and is installed at the Palace of the United Nations in Geneva. The lot has an estimate of $800,000 to $1,200,000. It sold for $996,000.

"Swiftwater (Misty Morn)" by Parrish

Lot 50, "Swiftwater (Misty-Morn)," by Maxfield Parrish, oil on board, 23 by 18 1/2 inches, 1953

Lot 50 is an excellent landscape by Maxfield Parrish (1870-1966) that is entitled "Swiftwater (Misty-Morn)." An oil on board, it measures 23 by 18 1/2 inches and was painted in 1953. It was produced by the artist for Brown and Bigelow, a calendar company. It has a modest estimate of $400,000 to $600,000. It sold for $744,000.

"Early Morning Sugaring Off" by Grandma Moses

Lot 96, "Early Morning Sugaring Off," by Anna Mary Robertson (Grandma) Moses, tempera on canvas mounted on board, 36 by 45 inches, 1944

Lot 96, "Early Morning Sugaring Off," is one of the best works by Anna Mary Robertson (Grandma) Moses (1860-1961). A tempera on canvas mounted on board, it measures 36 by 45 inches and was executed in 1944. It has an estimate of $350,000 to $450,000. It sold for $548,000.

"Breaking Home Times" by Norman Rockwell

Lot 16, "Breaking Home Ties," by Norman Rockwell, oil on canvas, 44 inches square, 1954

Lot 16 is a good work by Norman Rockwell (1894-1978) that is entitled "Breaking Home Ties." It appeared as the cover illustration for the September 25, 1954 edition of The Saturday Evening Post. An oil on canvas, it measures 44 inches square. The painting has an interesting history. It was found earlier this year hidden behind a wall in the Vermont home of cartoonist Don Trachte who had acquired the painting from the artist in 1960. According to Sotheby's, a replica made by Mr. Trachte himself presumably to protect his children's inheritance while in was divorcing his wife had been exhibited and widely assumed to be the original since the 1970s. It has an estimate of $4,000,000 to $6,000,000.

It sold for $15,416,000! Wonder where the replica is?

Lot 51, "Back to Civvies," by Norman Rockwell, oil on canvas, 39 by 30 inches, 1945

Another good Rockwell is Lot 51, "Back to Civvies," an oil on canvas that measures 39 by 30 inches. It was the cover illustration of the December 15, 1945 edition of The Saturday Evening Post. It has an estimate of $1,500,000 to $2,000,000.

It sold for $1,696,000, which pales in comparison with Lot 16 and makes one wonder what the difference is as the paintings are artistically quite comparable - both very good examples of Rockwell's skills.

Obviously the recent sale of a Gustav Klimt for $135 million and the more recent reports of the sale of a great work by Thomas Eakins for $68 million, a sale that has created a controversy because some people do not want to removed from Pennsylvania, have significantly spiked values. It is difficult, however, to make sense of a lot of the values and prices right now in American Art. While there is never a direct correlation between price and size or comparable quality or historical importance or rarity, there is a new growing disparity between some works that are superhyped, such as the Hopper, and very good and/or very pleasant works by fine artists.

See The City Review article on the Spring 2006 American Paintings auction at Sotheby's

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

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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