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American Paintings

Sotheby's New York

10 A.M., December 1, 2011


Sale 8802

Flowers by John La Farge

Lot 2, "Red Hollyhocks," by John La Farge, encaustic on panel, 37 3/4 by 20 1/4 inches, circa 1863

By Carter B. Horsley

This American Paintings auction at Sotheby's is highlighted by four paintings by George Catlin, and good works by Albert Bierstadt and Winslow Homer and George Catlin, a lovely orchid and hummingbird painting by Martin J. Heade, a very fine floral painting by John LaFarge, a masterpiece by George Cochran Lambdin, an important work by James Goodwyn Clooney, and excellent paintings by Marsden Hartley, Stuart Davis and George Inness.

Lot 2 is a luscious painting by John La Farge (1835-1910) of "Red Hollyhocks."  An encaustic on panel, it measures 373/4 by 20 1/4 inches and was painted circa 1863.  The artist was introduced to encaustic, a mix of oil and wax, by Henry Styleman Le Strange.  Encaustic was an ancient technique used by the Greeks and the catalogue entry notes that "it aroused new interest in 19th Century Europe from its use on the haunting faces painted on Roman-era funerary portraits excavated in Fayum, Egypt that made their way into the Louvre and the British Museum.  It has an estimate of $500,000 to $700,000. It sold for $1,874,500 including the buyer's premium as do all results mentioned in this article.

Of the 111 lots offered, 79 sold, or 71.2 percent, for $24,557,751.


Orchid by Martin J. Heade

Lot 8, "Orchids and hummingbirds," by Martin J. Heade, oil on canvas, 15 by 20 inches, circa 1875-1890

Lot 8 is a very beautiful painting of "Orchids and Hummingbirds" by Martin J. Heade (1819-1904).  It was formerly with Kennedy Galleries and the collection of Dr. and Mrs. Irving Burton of Huntington Woods, Michigan and it is property of the estate of Helen Marx. It has a modest estimate of $500,000 to $700,000.  It sold for $1,986,500.

Indian by Catlin

Lot 73, "One Horn, Head Chief of the Miniconjou Tribe,Teton Dakota (Western Sioux)," by George Catlin, oil on canvas, 27 by 22 1/2 inches, circa 1830-1832

Lot 73, "One Horn, Head Chief of the Miniconjou Tribe, Teton Dakota (Western Sioux)," is one of four oils on canvas by George Catlin (1796-1872) that have been consigned by the Field Museum of Chicago that had Sotheby's sell 31 other paintings by Catlin to a private collector in December, 2004.  The decision of the Field Museum to dispose of its fabulous collection of Catlin paintings is outrageous.  This painting measures 27 by 22 1/2 inches and was painted circa 1830-1832.  It has a modest estimate of $1,000,000 to $1,500,000. It sold for $962,500.

The four Catlin paintings in this auction come from the Benjamin O'Fallon Collection.  O'Fallon was a nephew of William Clark and the United States Indian Agent for the Missouri River Tribes.  Catlin donated more than 500 of his Indian paintings to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, but the catalogue notes that many of them were painted in Europe.  The O'Fallon paintings, on the other hand, were painted in America.  Catlin tried to visit every tribe of Indians on the continent to paint their distinguished leaders in their native costumes.  "According to family tradition, the Catlin collection - which once numbered at least forty-two subjects - was lent for public exhibition at least once but was consigned to perpetual storage in 1861," according to the catalogue entry.


Buffalo by Catlin

Lot 76, "Buffalo Chase, a Surround by the Hidatsa," by George Catlin, oil on canvas, 22 1/2 by 27 inches, 1830-2

Lot 76, "Buffalo Chase, a Surround by the Hidatsa," by George Catlin, is an oil on canvas that measures 22 1/2 by 27 inches and was painted 1830-2.  It has an estimate of $800,000 to $1,200,000.  It sold for $1,112,500.


The auction has some excellent genre paintings.  

Fishing by Lamdin

Lot 19, "The Biddle Children Fishing on the Schuylkill," by George Cochran Lambdin, oil on canvas backed by panel, 20 1/4 by 16 inches, 1869

The best is a masterwork by George Cochran Lambdin (1830-1896) entitled "The Biddle Children Fishing on the Schuylkill," an oil on canvas backed by panel that is 20 1/4 by 16 inches and is dated 1869.  The lot has a very modest estimate of $10,000 to $15,000.  It sold for $20,000.

Fishing by Clonney

Lot 18, "What a Catch!," by James Goodwyn Clonnney, oil on canvas, 24 by 34 inches, 1855


Lot 18 is a splendid work by James Goodwyn Clonney (1812-1867) entitled "What a Catch!"  An oil on canvas, it measures 24 by 34 and is an oval image that is dated 1855.  It was once in the M & M Karolik Collection in Boston and the Museum of Fine Ats in Boston, which sold it at Sotheby's April 23, 1981.  The lot has an modest estimate of $40,000 to $$60,000.  It sold for $47,500.


Woman by window by Homer    

Lot 26, "Reverie," by Winslow Homer, oil on canvas, 22 by 13 1/2 inches, 1872

The back cover illustration of the catalogue is Lot 26, "Reverie," by Winslow Homer (1836-1910), a very lovely oil on canvas that measures 22 by 13 1/2 inches and is dated 1872.  It shows one of his beautiful blonde models sitting pensively an open window.  It is a very fine asymmetrical composition.  The painting has been consigned by the Collection of Joan Whitney Payson.  It has an estimate of $1,200,000 to $1,800,000.  It failed to sell!


Fence by Homer

Lot 7, "Orange Trees and Gate," by Winslow Homer, watercolor on paper, 14 by 20 1/4 inches, 1885

Lot 7 is a very vibrant and impressive watercolor by Home entitled "Orange Trees and Gate."  Executed in 1885, it measures 14 by 20 1/4 inches.  It is property from the estate of Helen Marx and was once in the collections of Russell Sturgis and Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Fleischman of Detroit.  It has a modest estimate of $500,000 to  $700,000.  It sold for $1,314,500.

The auction has numerous works by Albert  Bierstadt (1830-1902).

Large deer by Bierstadt

Lot 90, "Light in the Forest," by Albert Bierstadt, oil on canvas, 52 by 42 inches

Lot 90 is a large and  grandiloquent oil on canvas by Bierstadt entitled "Light in the Forest."  It measures 52 by 42 inches  and shows some elk deer by a forest pond at sunset ina a rare, for Bierstadt, vertical format.  It was the cover illustration of the catalogue for the May 11, 2011 auction of American Paintings at Sotheby's New York when it had an estimate of $2,000,000 to $3,000,000 and failed to sell.  It has the same estimate at this auction and, again, failed to sell.


Small deer by Bierstadt

Lot 21, "Twilight with Deer," by Albert Bierstadt, oil on paper laid down on canvas 6 by 9 inches

Lot 21 is a very lovely small oil on paper laid down on canvas by Albert Bierstadt.  Entitled "Twilight with Deer," it measures 6 by 9 inches.  It has a modest estimate of $40,000 to $60,000.  It sold for $92,500.

Old Faithful by Bierstadt


Lot 84, "Old Faithful," by Albert Bierstadt, oil on paper laid to canvas, 19 1/2 by13 3/4 inches

Lot 84 is a good painting of "Old Faithful" with a rainbow by Albert Bierstadt.  An oil on paper laid to canvas, it measures 19 12 by13 3/4 inches.  It has an estimate of $250,000 to $350,000.  It sold for $446,500.


Two cows by Bierstadt

Lot 86, "Landscape with cows," by Albert Bierstadt, oil on paper mounted on canvas,  12 1/2 by 19 1/4 inches

Lot 86 is a superb oil on paper mounted on canvas by Albert Bierstadt tha tis entitled"Landscape with Cows."  It measures 12 1/2 by 19 1/4 inches.  It is a marvelous composition with very prominent trees dwarfing two cows in the background and a row of wild flowers highlighting the foreground.  It has a modest estimate of $25,000 to $35,000.  It sold for $25,000.



Landscape by Chase

Lot 69, "Wheat Field," by George Inness, oil on canvas, 32 by 48 1/4 inches, circa 1884

Chase slanted signature

Slanted signature of Chase on Lot 69


Lot 69 is a large oil on canvas by George Inness entitled "Wheat Field."  It measures 32 by 48 1/4 inches and was painted circa 1884.  It was published in 2009 by Ronald Pisano in the third volume on his book on landscapes in oil by Chase.  It has an estimate of $200,000 to $300,000.  It failed to sell.


Landscape by Inness

Lot 62, "Going to Market," by George Inness, oil on canvas, 16 1/4 by 25 1/4 inches, circa 1868

Lot 62 is a very nice landscape by George Inness (1825-1894) entitled "Going to Market."  An oil on canvas, it measures 16 1/4 by 25 1/4 inches and was painted circa 1868.  It is property of Ted Church and is being sold to benefit the Shelburne Museum.  It has a modest estimate of $60,000 to $80,000.  It sold for $50,000.


Lady by Jack Levine

Lot 44, "The Princess," by Jack Levine, oil on canvas, 78 by 48 inches, 1960

Lot 44 is a large and very painterly work by Jack Levine (1915-2010) entitled "The Princess."  An oil on canvas that measures 78 by 48 inches, it was painted in 1960.  The catlogue entry notes that Levine wrote that the work was an "effort at a formal portrait,," adding that he "originally had it in mind to do Grace Kelly, when she became a princess, but she's too beautiful for parody."  The lot has modest estimate of $100,000 to $150,000.  It failed to sell.

Marsden Hartley

Lot 28, "Untitled (Still Life)," by Marsden  Hartley, oil on board, 32 by 25 3/4 inches, 1919

Lot 28 is a strong, untitled still life by Marsden Hartley (1977-1943). An oil on board, it measures 32 by 25 3/4 inches and was painted in 1919.  It has an estimate of $700,000 to $900,000.  It sold for $3,218,500.


Luks



Lot 60, "The Breaker Boys," by George Luks, oil on canvas, 50 by 60 inches, circa 1925

Lot 60 is a large oil on canvas by George Luks (1867-1933) entitled "The Breaker Boys."  It measures 50 by 60 inches and was painted circa 1925.  The Breaker Boys shows four youths sitting on wooden crates and removing by hand  impurities from coal down in a mine in Pennsylvania.  It has an estimate of $150,000 to $200,000.  It sold for $170,500.
 

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