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American Paintings

Christie's

10 AM, December 2, 2009

Sales 2225


"Elegant Woman in a Blue Dress" by Prendergast

Lot 93, "Elegant Woman in a Blue Dress," by Maurice Brazil Prendergast, watercolor and pencil on paper, 23. 3.4 by 6 inches, circa 1893-4

By Carter B. Horsley

This auction of American Paintings at Christie's December 2, 2009 is highlighted by some very fine works by Maurice Prendergast, Childe Hassam, Albert Bierstadt, Ralston Crawford, George Inness, Marsden Hartley, Mary Cassatt, Edmund Tarbell and Richard Miller.

Lot 93 is a lovely watercolor by Maurice Brazil Prendergast (1859-1924) that is entitled "Elegant Woman in a Blue Dress." It measures 13 3/4 by 6 inches and was executed circa 1893-4. It has an estimate of $600,000 to $800,000. It sold for $1,022,500 including the buyer's premium as do all results mentioned in this article.

About one-third of the 138 offered lots failed to sell. The auction's total was $32,358,750.

"Siena" by Prendergast

Lot 90, "Siena," by Maurice Brazil Prendergast, watercolor and pencil on paper, 12 1/2 by 20 1/2 inches, circa 1898-99

Lot 90 is a very good watercolor by Prendergast that was executed circa 1898-9 and measures 12 1/2 by 20 1/2 inches. It was formerly in the collections of Lawrence A. Fleischman of Detroit, and Rita and Daniel Frad of Scarsdale, New York. The work has been widely exhibited and published. It has an estimte of $500,000 to $700,000. It sold for $542,500.

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"Three Panel Screen: by Prendergast back of screen

Lot 91, "Three-panel Screen," by Charles Prendergast, oil and gold leaf on gessoed wood, each panel 75 by 27 1/4 inches, circa 1916-7, left; back, right

Maurice Prendergast had a brother Charles (1863-1948) who was famous for his screens. Lot 91 is a three-panel screen he created cira 1916-7. Each panel measures 75 by 27 1/4 inches.

Detail of one of the panels

Detail of one of the panels

The screen was formerly owned by Duncan Phillips, the founder of The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. The catalogue notes that "decorated across the surface in a characteristically whimsical, highly imaginative style, Three-Panel Screen from 1916-1917 is a magnificent example of Charles Prendergast's painted panels and most likely the first of only three screens crated during his prolific career." "Although his reputation was first established as one of America's greatest frame makers, Prendergast began a second career as a painter in his fifties which flourished into his early eighties."

The lot has an estimate of $1,000,000 to $1,500,000. It sold for $1,202,500.

Study for young mother sewing by Cassatt

Lot 87, "Study for 'Young Mother Sewing,'" by Mary Cassatt, pastel on paper, 36 1/2 by 28 1/2 inches, 1902

Lot 87 is a large and excellent pastel on paper by Mary Cassatt (1844-1926) entitled "Study for 'Young Mother Sewing." It measures 36 1/2 by 28 1/2 inches and was created in 1902. The work is related to a work in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art that had been given by Louise Havemeyer. Cassatt was introduced to pastel by Edgar Degas and in 1877 he invited her to exhibit with the Impressionists. Cassatt advised the Havemeyers on art collecting. The lot has a modest estimate of $800,000 to $1,200,000. It sold for $2,434,500.

"My wife, Emeline, in a Garden" by Tarbell

Lot 31, "My Wife, Emeline, in a Garden," by Edmund Tarbell, oil on canvas, 28 by 24 inches, 1890

Boston fostered a group of talented artists who became well-known for painting society ladies in white dresses around the turn of the 20th Century. Perhaps the best was Edmund Tarbell (1862-1938) and Lot 31 is a very fine and extremely impressionistic example of his work. It was formerly in the collection of the Terra Museum of American Art in Chicago. The catalogue quotes William Gerdts that "The leader of the Boston figural Impresionists was Tarbell, and the group was referred to early on as 'The Tarbellites' a term coined somewhat invidiously by the critic Sadakichi Hartmann in March 1897." The lot has a conservative estimate of $800,000 to $1,200,000. It failed to sell.

"Young Woman Sewing" by Miller

Lot 97, "Young Woman Sewing," by Richard Edward Miller, oil on canvas, 28 1/2 by 23 1/2 inches

Lot 97 is a luscious portraint of a young woman sewing by Richard Edward Miller (1875-1943). An oil on canvas, it measures 28 1/2 by 23 1/2 inches. Miller is a superb painter with a very distinct and lovely palette. The lot has a conservative estimate of $150,000 to $250,000. It sold for $182,500.

"Sixth Avenue El - Nocturne" by Hassam

Lot 48, "Sixth Avenue El - Nocture (The El, New York)," by Childe Hassam, oil on canvas, 18 by 14 inches, 1894

Lot 48 is a small and wonderful New York scene by Childe Hassam (1859-1935) that depicts the Sixth Avenue El in 1894. An oil on canvas, it measures 18 by 14 inches. The painting once belonged to Frank Sinatra and Gordon Getty. It has a modest estimate of $400,000 to $600,000. It sold for $602,500.

The catalogue provides the following commentary:

"The present work is a striking nocture that captures the hustling atmosphere of Sixth Aenue as the juxtaposition of Elevated railroad and horse and buggy reveal a city a in transition. The rich blues and grays of street and sky are dramatically perforated by twinkling street lanterns as the smoke from the el diffuses into the evening sky. Hassam imploys short, brick brushstrokes to capture the activity of the scene, capturing the motion of the various figures in the crowd. The diagonal trajectory of train tracks and buildings creates a tremendous recession of space and further underscores movement and acvity in the scene."

"Rainy Day" by Hassam

Lot 38, "Rainy Day," by Childe Hassam, oil on canvas, 24 1/4 by 18 1/4 inches

Lot 38 is a fine impressionist work by Childe Hassam (1859-1935) entitled "Rainy Day." An oil on canvas, it measures 24 1/4 by 18 ¼ inches and was executed in 1890. It sold for $701,900 including the buyer's premium when it was auctioned at Christie's May 18, 2004 when it then had an estimate of $300,000 to $500,000. Its estimate now is $500,000 to $700,000. It sold for $782,500.

"New Hope, Pennsylvania" by Lawson

Lot 28, "New Hope, Pennsylvania," by Ernest Lawson, oil on panel, 15 1/2 by 19 1/2 inches, circa 1914-6

Ernest Lawson (1873-1939) is an uneven artist and many of his works have rather limited and drab palettes and simialr compositions. Lot 28, however, is a very strong and bold and painterly landscape of "New Hope, Pennsylvania" by Lawson. An oil on panel, it measures 15 1/2 by 19 1/2 inches and was painted circa 1914-6. It has a conservative estimate of $40,000 to $60,000. It sold for $62,500.

"Restigouche at Sunset' by Benson

Lot 37, "Restigouche at Sunset," by Frank Weston Benson, oil on canvas, 32 by 40 inches, 1928

Lot 37 is a large and nicely composed painting of a man in a canoe by Frank Weston Benson (1862-1951). Entitled "Restigouche at Sunset," it is an oil on canvas that measures 32 by 40 inches and was painted in 1928. It has an estimate of $600,000 to $800,000. It failed to sell.

"Autumn, Montclair, New Jersey" by Inness

Lot 55, "Autumn, Montclair, New Jersey," by George Inness, oil on canvas, 30 by 25 inches, circa 1886-1893

George Inness (1825-1894) is the great American Tonalist painter and Lot 55, "Autumn, Montclair, New Jersey," is a classic example of his best work. An oil on canvas, it measures 30 by 25 inches and was painted circa 1886-1893. It is property of the Corcoran Gallery of Art and is being sold to benefit the acquistions fund. Works of such a high quality should not be deaccessioned by public institutions even when they have more than one example by the artist. This lot has a conservative estimate of $150,000 to $250,000. It sold for $146,500.

"Mountainous Landscape at Moonlight" by Bierstadt

Lot 73, "Mountainous Landscape by Moonlight," by Albert Bierstadt, oil on canvas, 30 by 50 inches, 1871

Another major work being sold by the Corcoran Gallery is Lot 73, "Mountainous Landscape by Moonlight," by Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902). An oil on canvas, it measures 30 by 50 inches and was painted in 1871. It has been widely published and exhibited. It has an estimate of $1,200,000 to $1,800,000. This composition might have been more effective is its scale was much smaller. It sold for $1,142,500.

"River scene" by Bierstadt

Lot 71, "River Scene," by Albert Bierstadt, oil on panel, 5 1/2 by 9 1/4 inches, 1858

Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902) is best known for his monumental and grandiloquent sunset landscapes of the American West, but many of his very small sketches are also wonderful. Although at his best, Bierstadt was a remarkable painter sometimes he obviously had off days when clumsiness was in the air. Lot 71, "River Scene," is a very lovely small oil on panel by Bierstadt that was painted in 1858. It measurs 5 1/2 by 9 1/4 inches. It has an estimate of $60,000 to $80,000. It sold for $110,500.

"The Water Lily" by Stella

Lot 7, "The Water Lily," by Joseph Stella, oil on glass, 16 by 14 inches,circa 1924

Lot 7 is a very striking trapezoidal oil painting on glass by Joseph Stella (1877-1946) entitled "The Water Lily." It is a very strong panting made more memorable by its unusual shape. It measures 16 by 14 inches and was included in the retrospective on the artist at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1994. It has a modest estimate of $50,000 to $70,000. It sold for $230,500.

"Still Life, Geraniums" by Hartley

Lot 10, "Still Life, Geraniums," by Marsden Hartley, oil on canvas, 24 by 19 1/2 inches, circa 1928

Marsden Hartley (1877-1943) is best known for his extraordinary abstractions based on German soldier's uniforms and medals but his landscapes and still lifes are also greatly admired. Lot 10 is one of the finest of his still lifes. It is entitled "Still Life, Geraniums," and is an oil on canvas that measures 24 by 19 1/2 inches and was painted circa 1928. It has an estimate of $250,000 to $350,000. It failed for sell.

"River at Saugerties" by Bellows

Lot 50, "River at Saugerties," by George Wesley Bellows, oil on canvas, 20 by 24 inches, 1920

George Wesley Bellows (1882-1925) is an artist who occasionally knocks your socks off with his virtuosity and Lot 50 is just such an example. An oil on canvas, it measures 20 by 24 inches and was painted in 1920. It is titled "River at Saugerties." It was included in the artist's retrospective in 2004 at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. The catalogue notes that beginning in 1920 Bellows "painted spiritual landscapes of primary colors in and around Woodstock, New York." This very superb work has a modest estimate of $400,000 to $600,000. It failed to sell.

"Abstraction #2" by Carles

Lot 4, "Abstraction #2," by Arthur Beecher Carles, oil on canvas, 31 by 35 inches,circa 1929-35

Lot 4 is a very strong and colorful abstraction by Arthur Beecher Carles (1882-1952). An oil on canvas, it measures 31 by 35 inches and was painted circa 1931-5. It once belonged to R. Sturgis Ingersoll and has been widely exhibited and published. It has an estimate of $150,000 to $250,000. It sold for $182,500.

"Still" by Davis

Lot 17, "Still," by Stuart Davis, gouache and pencil on paper, 5 1/4 by 7 1/2 inches, 1953

Lot 17 is a good small gouache and pencil on paper by Stuart Davis (1892-1964). Entitled "Still," it measures 5 1/4 by 7 1/2 inches and was executed in 1953. It was once in the collection of Edwin C. Wilson of Washington, D.C. It sold for $37,500.

"Net" by Crawford

Lot 15, "Net," by Ralston Crawford, oil on canvas, 13 by 18 1/4 inches

The auction has two somewhat similar and very nice abstractions by Ralston Crawford (1906-1978). Lot 15 is an oil on canvas entitled "Net." It measures 13 by 18 1/4 inches. It has an estimate of $30,000 to $50,000. It sold for $43,750.

"Wharf Objects at Santa Barbara #2" by Crawford

Lot 14, "Wharf Objects at Santa Barbara #2," by Ralston Crawford, tempera on paperboard, 13 1/4 by 20 1/2 inches, 1948

The other Crawford, Lot 14, is titled "Wharf Objects at Santa Barbara #2." It is a tempera on paperboard that measures 13 1/4 by 20 1/2 inches and was painted in 1948. It was included in the 1985 retrospective on the artist at the Whitney Museum of American Art. It has an estimate of $30,000 to $50,000. It failed to sell.

"Above the Narrows" by Wyeth

Lot 24, "Above the Narrows," by Andrew Wyeth, tempera on panel, 48 by 32 1/4 inches, 1960

The cover illustration of the auction catalogue is Lot 24, "Above the Narrows," by Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009). It is a tempera on panel that measures 48 by 32 1/4 inches. It was painted in 1960 and is property of the estate of Jack L. Dreyfus Jr., the founder of Dreyfus & Co, a mutual fund company. It was exhibited at the Albright-Knox Gallery in Buffalo in 1962, and the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1967 and 1998. It was painted at Bradford's Point on the St. George's River in maine and shows the artist's teenage son, Nicky, standing "with the expectant gaze of youth and the posturing of confidence of a young adult standing on the precipice," according to the catalogue entry, which also noted that "The gentle curve of the sloping hillside places the figure in a position of monumentality standing over the sweeping landscape." The rather stark and sober composition has an ambitious estimate of $3,000,000 to $4,000,000. It sold for $6,914,500.

"For a mile..." by N,. C. Wyeth

Lot 128, "For a mile, or thereabouts, my raft went very well-," by N. C. Wyeth, oil on canvas, 40 1/2 by 30 inches, 1920

The auction is offering a set of 14 large oil paintings by N. C. Wyeth (1882-1945) that illustrated an 1920 edition of Daniel Defoe's "Robinson Crusoe." Lot 128, "For a mile, or thereabouts, my raft went very well-," is one of the better works in the series. It is an oil on canvas that measures 40 1/2 by 30 inches.

 

Several Wyeth illustrations of Robinson Crusoe

Several of the N. C. Wyeth illustrations of an edition of "Robinson Crusoe"

The series is proeprty of the Wilmington Institute Library and is expected to realize more than $3,800,000. The library purchased the series in 1922 directly from the artist as decoration for the library's reading rooms.

"Third Avenue El" by du Bois

Lot 43, "Third Avenue El," by Guy Pene du Bois, oil on canvas, 36 by 39 iinches, 1932

Guy Pene du Bois (1884-1958) was an important art critic who also happened to be a notable Art Deco painter whose works are generally distinguished by the rounded modeling of his figures and hiis soft light. Lot 43, "Third Avenue El," is a very fine composition by the artist from 1932. An oil on canvas, it measures 36 by 39 inchyes. It has an estimate of $300,000 to $500,000. It sold for $782,500.

"Bull Market Promenade" by du Bois

Lot 46, "Bull Market Promenade," by Guy Pene du Bois, oil on canvas, 18 by 22 inches, 1928

Lot 36 is a very fine painting by du Bois entitled "Bull Market Promenade." The artist's subjects were generally the rich. In this oil on canvas that measures 18 by 22 inches and was painted in 1928 he paints a very well attired gentleman sauntering along the border of Central Park and the simple but strong composition is reminiscent of Gustave Caillebotte. It has a modest estimate of $120,000 to $180,000. It sold for $158,500.

"Nassau: Water and Sailboat" by Homer

Lot 81, "Nassau: Water and Sailboat," by Winslow Homer, 15 by 15 1/4 inches, 1899

Winslow Homer (1836-1910) is the greatest American artist and a thorough viewing of his oeuvre would indicate that he probably created more than 500 masterpieces. Lot 81, "Nassau: Water and Sailboat" is a large watercolor dated 1899 in an unusually square format. It manifests none of the artist's glorious painterly techniques. It has an ambitious estimate of $400,000 to $600,000. It is property of the estate of Mrs. Charles W. Englehard and had been in the collections of Stephen C. Clark of New York and Alastair Bradley Martin of Glen Head, N.Y. It sold for $650,500.

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