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American Paintings

Sotheby's New York

10 A.M., Nov. 19, 2014


Sale 9229

O"Keeffe flower


Lot 11, "Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1," by Georgia O'Keeffe, oil on canvas, 48 by 40 inches, 1932

By Carter B. Horsley

This auction of American Paintings Nov. 19, 2014 at Sotheby's New York is highlighted by masterworks by Morton Livingston Schamberg, Stanton Macdonald Wright, Arthur Beecher Carles, and William Merritt Chase and superb works by Georgia O'Keeffe, James Edward Buttersworth, Emil Carlsen, Mary Cassatt, Albert Bierstadt and William Bradford.

The star of the auction, and the catalogue's cover illustration, is Lot 11, "Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1," by Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1986).  An oil on canvas, it measures 48 by 40 inches and was painted in 1932.  It was formerly in the collection of Gerald Peters and The Burnett Foundation of Fort Worth and the artist's sister, Anita O'Keeffe Young.  It has been widely published and exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and was on loan to the White House from 2002 to 2008.  It was among three works by the artist that were consigned by the O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe.

It has an ambitious estimate of $10,000,000 to $15,000,000.  It sold for $44,405,000, an astounding amount, including the buyer's premium as do all prices mentioned in this article.  According to Sotheby's, "it shattered the previous record for a female artist at auction."  

A November 21, 2014 article in The New York Times by Carol Vogel indicated that been sold twice before by Sotheby's, "first in 1987, when it was included in property from the estate of Ms. Young and went for $990,000, and against in 1994, for $1 million.

The auction total was $75,306,500.


O'Keeffe desert

Lot 24, "On the Old Santa Fe Road," by Georgia O'Keeffe, oil on canvas, 16 by 30 inches, 1930-1

Another O'Keeffe oil on canvas is Lot 24, "On the Old Santa Fe Road."  It measures 16 by 30 inches and was painted in 1930-1.  While not up to the dramatic and stark levels of many of her other landscapes, it has a good sensual quality.  It has an estimate of $2,000,000 to $3,000,000.  It sold for $5,093,000.


Wright

Lot 15, "Still Life Synchromy," by Stanton Macdonald-Wright, oil on canvas, 22 by 30 1/4 inches, 1917

Stanton Macdonald-Wright (1890-1973) is a very important early American modernist whose works appear rarely at auction.  Lot 15 is a fine example of his abstractions and is an oil on canvas that is entitled "(Still Life Synchromy)."  The back-cover illustration of the catalogue and widely exhibited, it measures 22 by 30 1/4 inches and was painted in 1917.  It was included in the 1956, 1967 and 1979 retrospectives on the artist.  

The catalogue entry notes that there are two figures in the picture and that the elements depicted "are sharply reduced and fragmented into geometric planes and circular shapes of shimmering color" adding that "these latter forms, arranged so that they appear to cascade across the picture plane, were inspired by Macdonald-Wright's admiration for Michaelangelo and the contrapposto he applied to sculpt the human frame in his work Dying Slave....[Morgan] Russell introduced Macdonald-Wright to the ideas of Percyval Tudor-Hart, a Canadian painter and color theorist working in Paris at the time.  Using Tudor-Hart's theories on the musical character of color as a foundation, Macdonald-Wright and Russell drew a simplified analogy between the 12 tone scale and the 12 colors on a standard color wheel,...The color-sound analogy was one that many artists were exploring at the time."

It has an estimate of $1,500,000 to $2,500,000.  It sold for $2,165,000.

Schamberg

Lot 23, "Painting VI (Camera Flashlight, Machine Still Life)," by Morton Livingston Schamberg, oil on canvas, 24 by 20 inches, 1916

Lot 23 is a lyrical modernist oil on canvas by Morton Livingston Schamberg (1881-1918) entitled "Painting VI (Camera Flashlight, Machine Still Life)."  It measures 24 by 20 inches and was painted in 1916 and was once in The Regis Collection of Minneapolis formed by Myron Kunin, whose great African Art collection was auctioned at Sotheby's November 11, 2014.  It has been widely exhibited and published.  It has a modest estimate of $600,000 to $800,000.  It sold for $965,000.

The catalogue entry provides the following commentary:

"...this little known yet hugely significant painter and photographer originally trained as an architect.  After receiving his degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1903, however, Schamberg enrolled at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts where he studied under William Merritt Chase and practiced his teacher's impressionist style of execution.  After completing his studies at the Adademy, he made several trips to Europe between 1904 and 1909, at times accompanied by both Chase and [Charles] Sheeler - his close friend and another of Chase's pupils....the works he created upon his return to the United States display a new concern for the structural rather than the representational function of color, and he increasingly flattened and fragmented forms.  By the 1913 Armory Shyow, in which the artist exhibited five works, his embrace of modest abstraction was fully realized."


The lot has a modest estimate of $600,000 to $800,000.  It sold for $965,000.

Arthur Beecher Carles


Lot 30, "Composition,"by Arthur Beecher Carles, oil on canvas, 43 1/2 by 59 1/4 inches, 1937

One of the most impressive, stunning and vibrant works in the auction is Lot 30, "Composition," by Arthur Beecher Carles (1882-1952), an oil on canvas that measures 43 1/2 by 59 1/4 inches.  It was painted in 1937.  It was exhibited in the Carles retrospective exhibition held at the National Academy of Design in New York and the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington in 1983-4.  It has a modest estimate of $200,000 to $300,0000.  It sold for $221,000.

Marsden Hartley


Lot 25, "New Mexico," by Marsden Hartley, oil on canvas, 16 by 24 inches, 1919

Lot 25 is a small but very strong landscape by Marsden Hartley (1877-1943).  An oil on canvas that is entitled "New Mexico," it measures16 by 24 inches and was painted in 1919.  It has an estimate of $500,000 to $700,000.  It sold for $581,000.

Max Weber

Lot 28, "The Fisherman," by Max Weber, gouache on canvas, 23 1/8 by 17 inches, 1919

Lot 28 is a handsome gouache on canvas by Max Weber(1881-1961) entitled "The Fisherman" which includes four fish.  It measures 23 1/8 by 17 inches and was painted in 1919.  It once belonged to the Babcock Galleries in New York and was shown at the National Gallery of Art in Washington in 2012.  It has an estimate of $1,000,000 to $1,500,000.  It sold for $1,025,000.

Dickinson

Lot 29, "Still Life No. 1," by Preston Dickinson, oil on canvas, 24 by 20 inches, circa 1924

Lot 29 is a fine oil on canvas by Preston Dickinson (1891-1930) entitled "Still Life No. 1."  It measures 24 by 20 inches and was painted circa 1924.  Like Lot 23, it was once in The Regis Collection in Minneapolis and has been widely exhibited and published.  It has an estimate of $600,000 to $800,000.  It sold for $665,000.


Girl in Pink by Chase

Lot 40, "Tired," by William Merritt Chase," oil on panel, 12 7/8 by 9 5/8 inches, circa 1894

The auction's most ravishing and painterly work is Lot 40, "Tired," an oil on panel entitled "Tired."  It measures 12 7/8 by 9 5/8 inches and was painted circa 1894.  It was once in the Manooghian Collection. It depict's the artist's eldest daughter, Alice Dieudonnée, who was known as "Cosy."

Chase pink detail

Detail of Lot 40


The catalogue notes that the artist began to refer to "Cosy" as his "Little Red Note," referring to her role of providing the spot of red Chase believed to be critical to the success of his compositions.  "Because of this, she purported always wore something red in the event her rather asked her to pose on short notice.

The catalogue also states that she was 7 or 8 in this painting, although she looks a lot more mature.

It has a modest estimate of $1,500,000 to $2,500,000.  It sold for $1,805,000.



Chase daughter

Lot 47, "Alice Dieudonnée Chase, Shinnecock Hills," by William Merritt Chase, oil on canvas, 22 by 18 inches, circa 1902

A larger and not as lively portrait of Alice by Chase is Lot 47, an oil on canvas painted circa 1902.  An oil on canvas, it measures 22 by 18 inches.  It has an estimate of $300,000 to $500,000.  It was passed at $140,000.


Cassatt

Lot 39, "Tete d'enfant au chapeau rouge," by Mary Cassatt, pastel on paper, 15 3/4 by 13 1/4 inches, 1903

Lot 39 is a very lovely pasel on paper of a child with a red hat by Mary Cassatt (1844-1926).  It measures 15 3/4 by 13 1/4 inches and was painted in 1903.  


Cassatt detail

Detail of Lot 39

It has a modest estimate of $200,000 to $300,000.  It sold for $365,000.



Carlsen


Lot 12, "Red Carnations and Delft (Red Carnations)," by Emil Carlsen, oil on canvas, 24 5/8 by 18 5/8 inches, 1875

Lot 12 is a superb and luscious oil on canvas by Emil Carlsen (1853-1932).  Entitled "Red Carnations and Delft," it measures 24 5/8 by 18 5/8 inches and was painted in 1875.  It has an estimate of $150,000 to $250,000.  It sold for $185,000.

Dewing

Lot 44, "The Study No. 122," by Thomas Wilmer Dewing, pastel and charcoal on board, 14 3/8 by  11 1/4 inches, circa 1922

Lot 44 is a nice pastel and charcoal on board by Thomas Wilmer Dewing (1851-1938) entitled "The Study No. 122."  It measures 14 3/8 by 11 1/4 inches and was painted circa 1922.  It has an estimate of $40,000 to $60,000.  It sold for $47,500.

Marin

Lot 13, "Region White Mountains, Autumn, New Hampshire," by John Marin, oil on canvas, 22 by 28 inches, 1940

John Marin (1870-1953) was like O'Keeffe and early and very important American modernist.  Lot 13, "Region White Mountains, Autumn, New Hampshire" is an unusually colored oil on canvas by him that measures 22 by 28 inches and was painted in 1940.  Most of his works have a sketchy air about them that normally does not seem to fill the canvas whereas this example has none of his verve and dashing brushwork but is very energetic and dynamic.  It has a modest estimate of $80,000 to $100,000.  It sold for $100,000.



Buttersworth

Lot 50, "The Yacht 'Magic' Defending America's Cup," by James Buttersworth, oil on canvas, 29 3/4 by 49 1/2 inches, 1870

Lot 50 is a fine oil on canvas by James Buttersworth (1817-1894) entitled "The Yacht 'Magic' Defending America's Cup."  It measures 29 3/4 by 49 1/2 inches and was painted in 1870.  It has been exhibited at the South Street Seaport and the Terra Museum in Chicago.


Buttersworth detail

Detail of Lot 50

The scene is in New York harbor.  It has an estimate of $200,000 to $300,000.  It sold for $821,000.


Kensett

Lot 42, "Near Newport, Rhode Island," by John F. Kensett, oil on canvas, 11 1/4 by 13 1/4 inches, circa 1865

Lot 42 is a nice oil on canvas by John F. Kensett (1816-1872) entitled "Near Newport, Rhode Island."  It measures 11 1/4 by 13 1/4 inches and was painted circa 1865.  It has an estimate of $60,000 to $80,000.  It sold for $81,250.


Gifford


Lot 46, "A Sketch of Hunter Mountain, Catskills," by Sanford Robinson Gifford, oil on canvas, 10 1/4 by 17 1/4 inches, 1865

Lot 46 is a sketch of a large painting by Sanford Robinson Gifford (1823-1880) of Hunter Mountain in the Catskills.  An oil on canvas, it measures 10 1/4 by 17 1/4 inches and was painted in 1865,  The finished painting, "Hunter Mountain, Twilight," is in the Daniel J. Terra Collection in Chicago and measures 30 1/2 by 54 inches.  


Gifford detail

Detail of Lot 46


This highly finished sketch has an estimate of $200,000 to $300,000.  It sold for $293,000.


Bradford

Lot 3, "Icebergs, Labrodor," by William Bradford, oil on board, 9 by 14 inches, circa 1860

William Bradford (1823-1892) specialized in icebergs, especially those off Labrador and Lot 3 is a very fine, small example.  An oil on board, it measures 9 by 14 inches and was painted circa 1860.


Bradford detail

Detail of Lot 3, "Icebergs, Labrador"

It hs a modest estimate of $25,000 to $35,000.  It sold for $87,500.


Bierstadt

Lot 64, "Source of the Snake River," by Albert Bierstadt, oil on paper mounted on canvas, 14 by 19 inches

Lot 64 is a very good oil on paper mounted on canvas of the "Source of the Snake River" by Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902).  It measures 14 by 19 inches.  


Bierstadt detail

Detail  of Lot 64

It has a very modest estimate of $100,000 to $150,000.  It sold for $209,000.


Heade

Lot 61, "Twilight on Newbury Marsh," by American School Late 19th Century, black and white chalk on paper, 13 3/4 by 29 1/4 inches, circa 1886-1891

Lot 61 is attributed in the catalogue to American School Late 19th Century and is entitled "Twilight on Newbury Marsh."  A black and white chalk on paper, it measures 13 3/4 by 29 1/4 inches and was painted circa 1886-1891.  In his first edition of "The Life and Work of Martin Johnson Heade" in 1975, Theodore E. Stebbins declared that it was by Heade, but in a second edition in 2000 he said it and some other grisaille works were not by Heade.  Given the very high quality of the work, it is very difficult to accept an attribution not to Heade.  The lot has a very modest estimate of $8,000 to $12,000.  It sold for $60,000.

Garber

Lot 36, "Springtime - Lambertville," by Daniel Garber, oil on canvas, 18 1/8 by 22 1/8 inches, 1940

Lot 36 is a pleasant oil on canvas by Daniel Garber (1880-1958) entitled "Springtime-Lambertville."  It measures 18 1/8 by 22 1/8 inches and was painted in 1940.  It has an estimate of $150,000 to $250,000.  It was passed at $120,000.


Avery

Lot 33, "Double Wave," by Milton Avery, oil on canvas, 35 3/4 by 58 inches, 1955

Lot 33 is a large abstract oil on canvas by Milton Avery (1885-1965) entitled "Double Wave."  It measures 35 3/4 by 58 inches and was painted in 1955.  It has been widely exhibited.  It has an estimate of $1,500,000 to $2,500,000.  It sold for $1,595,000.


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