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American Paintings

Christie's

10 A.M., December 1, 2010

Sale 2362

"Lorelei" by Ryder

Lot 38. "The Lorelei," by Albert Pinkham Ryder, oil on canvas, 15 3/4 by 22 1/2 inches, 1879

By Carter B. Horsley

This auction of American Paintings at Christie's December 1, 2010 is highlighted by several rare works by Albert Pinkham Ryder, several superb paintings by George Inness, a nice group of works by Thomas Moran, a good painting by John Singer Sargent, a strong still life by Marsden Hartley, a very vibrant floral painting by Georgia O'Keeffe, and two excellent child portraits by Robert Henri.

Ryder (1847-1917) dark, moody, romantic paintings are widely regarded as precursors of abstract painting and their often laborious reworking has left many of them in precarious condition and increased their rarity.  They rarely appear on the auction market and when they have in recent years their prices are markedly low, a reflection of the fact that Ryder was one of the most forged artists in history.  It is quite extraordinary then that not only are three included in this auction but another one this week at Sotheby's.

Lot 38, "The Lorelei," is the largest and best known of the Ryders and is one of three consigned to Christie's by the estate of Alastair Bradley Martin, who was chairman of the Brooklyn Museum of Art from 1984 to 1989 and a member of the acquisition committee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  It is an oil on canvas that measures 15 3/4 by 22 1/2 inches and was painted in 1879-1917.  Like many, but not all, of the artist's paintings, it is not in perfect condition and suffers from severe and deep cracks.  It has been included in three major Ryder exhibitions: the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1947; the Corcoran Gallery of  Art in Washington in 1961 and the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American Art in 1990.

A 3 1/4-inch high magnesite or crystalline limestone figure of a lioness that is Elam and is dated circa 3000 to 2800 B.C. is the highlight of the Fall Antiquities auction at Sotheby's December 5, 2007.  (See The City Review article.)

The small statuette, Lot 10, is property of a charitable trust established by the Martin family and for many years has been on exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum as part of the Guennol Collection of the family of Edith and Alastair Bradley Martin.

It had an ambitious estimate of $14,000,000 to $18,000,000.

It sold for $57,161,000 including the buyer's premium. The extraordinary price was not only an auction record for any antiquity, but also for any sculpture.

Richard M. Keresey of Sotheby's Antiquities department remarked that the "Guennol Lioness" was "one of the greatest works of art of all time."

This catalogue notes that The Lorelei is a hauntingly beautiful work of which Dr. Elisabeth Broun wrote: "Only once does Ryder link love and death in the way so intriguing to late nineteenth-century artists, poets and musicians.  In The Lorelei, based on Heine's famous poem, a sailor hears irresistible singing and tries to steer toward the nymph on the rock but is sucked to his death in whirlpools and rapids."

The lot has a very modest estimate of  $120,000 to $150,000.  It failed to sell.

"The Lone Horseman" by Ryder

Lot 88, "The Lone Horseman," by Albert Pinkham Ryder, oil on panel laid down on board, 7 1/2 by 14 1/2 inches, circa 1880-5

The Ryder that is best condition is Lot 88, "The Lone Horseman," an oil on panel laid down on board that measures 7 1/2 by 14 1/2 inches.  It was painted circa 1880-5.  It has been widely published and exhibited and has a very modest estimatae of $80,000 to $120,000.  It failed to sell.

"Night" by Ryder

Lot 89, "Night," by Albert Pinkham Ryder, oil on canvas, 12 1/4 by 20 1/4 inches, circa 1880-5

Lot 89, "Night," by Ryder shows the ravages of time on Ryder's mix of paints.  An oil on canvas, it measures 12 14 by 20 1/4 inches and was painted circa 1880-5.  It was shown at the Metropolitan Museum of Art from 1918 to 1924.  It has an estimate of $60,000 to $80,000.  It failed to sell.

"Gathering Wood, Montclair, New Jersey" by Inness

Lot 102, "Gathering Wood, Montclair, New Jersey," by George Inness, oil on canvas, 20 by 30 inches, 1889

The auction has several fine works by George Inness (1825-1894) and Thomas Moran (1827-1926) from the estate of Margaret B. Nichols.

Lot 102 is a very poetic landscape by Inness that is entitled "Gathering Wood, Montclair, New Jersey."  An oil on canvas that measures 20 by 30 inches, it was painted in 1889.  It has a modest estimate of $80,000 to $120,000.  It sold for $302,500 including the buyer's premium as do all results mentioned in this article.

The sale total was $21,206,800 and only 65 percent of the 148 offered lots sold, a very low percentage.

"Nine O'Clock" by Inness

Lot 91, "Nine O'Clock," by George Inness, oil on canvas, 30 by 45 inches, 1891

Lot 91 is a larger but not quite as poetic work by Inness entitled "Nine O'Clock."  An oil on canvas, it measures 30 by 45 inches and was painted in 1891  It was exhibited at the Union League Club in New York in 1892 and the following year at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago.  It was once in the collection of Thomas B. Clarke of New York and it was also exhibited in 1899 at the Lotos Club in New York.  It has an estimate of $150,000 to $250,000.  It sold for $338,500.

"St. Andrews, New Brunswick" by Inness

Lot 129, "St. Andrews, New Brunswick," by George Inness, oil on canvas, 32 by 42 inches, 1893

Lot 129 is another large landscape by Inness.  It is entitled "St. Andrews, New Brunswick" and is an oil on canvas that measures  32 by 42 inches.  It was painted in 1893.  It has an estimate of $150,000 to $250,000.

"Palisades on the Hudson" by Inness

Lot 101, "Palisades on the Hudson," by George Inness, oil on canvas, 20 by 30 inches, circa 1876

Lot 101 is quite a boldly abstract painting by Inness entitled "Palisades on the Hudson."  An oil on canvas, it measures 20 by 30 inches and was painted circa 1876.  It has an estimate of $120,000 to $180,000. It sold for $140,500.

"Morning in the Sierras, Nevada," by Moran

Lot 111, "Morning in the Sierras, Nevada," by Thomas Moran, oil on canvas, 20 by 30 inches, 1910

Lot 111 is a unusual landscape composition by Thomas Moran entitled "Morning in the Sierras, Nevada."  Normally, Moran's compositions are quite idyllic and balanced and formal.  This painting, however, engulfs the viewer vertigiously  in a swirling mass of rugged mountains and valley.  An oil on canvas, it measures 20 by 30 inches and was painted in 1910.  It has an estimate of $400,000 to $600,000.  It sold for $386,500.

"Sunrise Landscape" by Thomas Moran

Lot 103, "Sunrise Landscape," by Thomas Moran, oil on canvas,20 by 30 inches, 1897

A more classic Moran Western landscape is Lot 103, which is entitled "Sunrise Landscape."  An oil on canvas that measures 20 by 30 inches, it was painted in 1897.  The scene is dramatic, eerie and mysterious and as the catalogue notes Moran did not feel obliged to be completely faithful to reality.  The lot has an estimate of $400,000 to $600,000.  It failed to sell.

"Coastal Scene" by Moran

Lot 126, "Coastal Scene," by Thomas Moran, oil on canvas, 24 by 36 inches, 1870

Lot 126 is a very interesting and fine composition by Moran entitled "Coastal Scene."  An oil on canvas, it mesausres 24 by 36 inches and it was painted in 1970.  It has an estimate of $100,000 to  $150,000. It sold for $158,500.

"Grand Canal, Venice" by Moran

Lot 131, "Grand Canal, Venice," by Thomas Moran, oil on canvas, 20 by 30 inches, 1901

Lot 131 is a typical Moran view of Venice.  Known as the "American Turner," he produced many Venetian scenes in the style of the very great English painter.  This oil on canvas measures 20 by 30 inches and was painted in 1901.  It has an estimate of $120,000 to $180,000. It sold for $116,500.

"Arabian Nights Fantasy" by Moran

Lot  127, "Arabian Nights Fantasy," by Thomas Moran, oil on canvas, 20 by 30 inches, 1886

Lot 127 is a variation of his Venetian themes, complete with gondolas, entitled "Arabian Nights Fantasy."  An oil on canvas, it measures 20 by 30 inches and was painted in 1886.  It has an estimate of $120,000 to $150,000.  It sold for $134,500.

"Caught in the Ice Floes" by Bradford

Lot 145, "Caught in the Ice Floes," by William Bradford, oil on canvas. 20 by 30 inches, 1889

William Bradford (1823-1892) was well known for his scenes of the Artic and especially the ice floes around Labrador.  Lot 145 is an excellent small such scene showing a boat "caught in the ice floes."  An oil on canvas, it measures 20 by 30 inches and was painted in 1889.  It has a modest estimate of $70,000 to $100,000. It sold for $290,500.

"Indians by Stream," by Thomas Hill

Lot 104, "Indians by Stream," by Thomas Hill, oil on canvas, 20 by 30 inches

Thomas Hill (1829-1908) was a painter long associated with Yosemite but he also did other Western scenes and some genrepaintings.  Lot 104 is a very beautiful and lyrical work entitled "Indians by Stream."  An oil on canvas that measures 20 by 30 inches, it has a modest estimate of $50,000 to $70,000 and is as lovely a dramatic mountain scene with Indians as one could wish for.  It sold for $62,500.

"Landscape with Deer" by Hill

Lot 125, "Landscape with Deer,"by Thomas Hill, oil on canvas, 20 by 30 inches

Lot 125, "Landscape with Deer," is another  fine Hill landscape depicts Yosemite and is an oil on canvas that measures 20 by 30 inches.  It has a modest estimate of $50,000 to $70,000.  It sold for $50,000.

"New England Sunrise" by Kensett

Lot 94, "New England Sunrise" by John F. Kensett, oil on canvas, 18 by 30 inches, 1963

Lot 94 is a lovely work by John F. Kensett (1816-1872) entitled "New England Sunrise."  An oil on canvas, it measures 18 by 30 inches and was painted in 1863.  Although it does not have the abstract calm of his famous Luminist works, it is very beautiful.  It was once in the collection of Blanchette Rockefeller of  New York.  It has an estimate of $500,000 to $700,000.  It sold for $662,500 to Questroyal.

"Canna Red and Orange" by O'Keeffe

Lot 15, "Canna Red and Orange," by Georgia O'Keeffe, oil on canvas, 20 by 16 inches, 1926

Lot 15 is a very bold floral painting by Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1986) that is being sold, inexplicably, by the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum to benefit its acquisitions fund.  An oil on canvas, it measures 20 by 16 inches and was painted in 1926.  It has been widely published and exhibited.  It has a modest estimate of $1,200,000 to $1,800,000.  It sold for $1,426,500.

Still Life by Hartley

Lot 14, "Still Life with Flowers," by Marsden Hartley, oil on canvas, 12 by 25 1/2 inches, circa 1928

Lot 14 is a very strong still life with flowers by Marsden Hartley (1877-1943).  An oil on canvas, it measures 12 by 25 1/2 inches and was painted circa 1928.  It has an estimate of $700,000to $1,000,000.  It was passed at $600,000.

"Ricordi di Capri" by Sargent

Lot 21, "Ricardi di Capri," by John Singer Sargent, oil on panel, 13 3/4 by 10 1/2 inches, 1878

The cover illustration of the catalogue is Lot 21, "Ricordi di Capri," by John Singer Sargent (1856-1925).  An oil on panel, it measures 13 3/4 by 10 1/2 inches and was painted in 1878.  It has an estimate of $1,500,000 to $2,500,000.  It sold for $1,650,500.

"The Blue Plaid Dress (Annie)" by Henri

Lot 48, "The Blue Plaid Dress (Annie)," by Robert Henri, oil on canvas, 24 by 20 inches, 1927

The auction has two wonderful child portraits by Robert Henri (1865-1929).  Lot 48 is entitled "The Blue Plaid Dress (Annie)" and is an oil on canvas that measures 24 by 20 inches and was painted in 1927.  It has an estimate of $500,000 to $700,000. It sold for $602,500.

"Nelson Cooper - Gypsy Boy" by Henri

Lot 55, "Nelson Cooper - Gypsy Boy," by Robert Henri, oil on canvas, 24 by 20 inches, 1915

The other is Lot 55, "Nelson Cooper-Gypsy Boy," which was painted in 1915 and has the same dimensions.  It has an estimate of $400,000 to $600,000. It sold for $458,500.

"Girl with a Basket of Ribbons" by Frieseke

Lot 23, "Girl with a Basket of Ribbons," by Frederick Carl Frieseke, oil on panel, 31 3/4 by 25 1/4 inches, 1915

Lot 23 is a superb painting of a "Girl with a Basket of Ribbons," by Frederick Carl Frieseke (1874-1939).  An oil on panel, it measures 31 3/4 by 25 1/4 inches and was painted in 1915.  Its rich and very colorful palette and delicacy of paint make it the equal of any work by Renoir.  It has a very modest estimate of $100,00 to $150,000.  It passed at $80,000.

"Snowstorm Broadway" by Shinn

Lot 44, "Snowstorm Broadway," by Everett Shinn, pastel, gouache, and watercolor on paperboard, 9 1/2 by 13 1/2 inches, 1909

Lot 44 is a very fine pastel, gouache and watercolor on paperboard by Everett Shinn (1876-1953).  Entitled "Snowstorm Broadway," it measures 9 1/2 by 13 1/2 inches and was executed in 1909.  It has an estimate of $70,000 to $90,000.  It sold for $266,600.

"Zuyder Zee" by Whistler

Lot 19, "Zuyder Zee," by James McNeill Whistler, watercolor on paper, 5 1/2 by 11 1/4 inches, circa 1883

Lot 19 is a good watercolor on paper of "Zuyder Zee" by James McNeilll Whistler (1834-1903) with his signature butterfly symbol.  It was executed circa 1883 and measures 5 1/2 by 11 1/4 inches.  It once belonged to Charles Lang Freer of Detroit.  It has an estimate of $120,000 to $180,000.  It passed at  $95,000.

A large and very lovely oil on canvas portrait of "Mona, daughter of Mrs. R.," Lot 31, by William Merritt Chase (1849-1916) had an estimate of $400,000 to $600,000.   It sold for $482,500.

A large and handsome portrait of "Two Little Girls," Lot 32, by Frank Weston Benson (1862-1951) had an estimate of $1,500,000 to $2,500,000.  It sold for $2,098,500, the highest in the sale, to the Caldwell Gallery in Manlius, New York.

See The City Review article on the Fall 2010 American Paintings Auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2010 American Paintings auction at Sotheby's


See The City Review article on the Spring 2010 American Pantings auction at Christie's


See The City Review article on the Fall 2009 American Paintings auction at Sotheby's


See The City Review article on the Fall 2009 American Paintings auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2009 intermediate American Paintings auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2009 intermediate American Paintings auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2009 American Paintings auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2009 American Paintings auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2008 American Paintings auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2008 American Paintings auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2008 American Paintings auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2007 American Paintings auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2007 American Paintings auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2007 American Paintings auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2007 American Paintings auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2006 American Paintings auction at Christie's

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

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

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

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