Carter B. Horsley
auction of American Paintings at Phillips de Pury & Luxembourg
is highlighted by several important early Western works by such
artists as Peter Rindisbacher (1806-1834), Seth Eastman (1808-1875),
and Alfred Jacob Miller (1810-1874).
include good works by Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902), John James
Audubon (1875-1851), Victor de Grailly (1804-1889), Homer Dodge
Martin (1836-1897), Francis Augustus Silva (1835-1886), Ralph
Albert Blakelock (1847-1919), Elliot Dangerfield (1859-1932),
Joseph Decker (1853-1924), John Singer Sargent (1856-1925), Mary
Cassatt (1844-1926), Robert Henri (1865-1929) and Emil Carlsen
works in the auction are by Joseph Otis Minnot (d. 1909) and Alfred
Rindisbacher are very rare on the auction market and Lot 64, shown
above, is a fine example of his work. Entitled "Buffalo Hunt,"
it is a pen, black ink and watercolor on paper that measures 8
1/4 by 16 7/8 inches. Executed circa 1822-4, it has a conservative
estimate of $100,000 to $150,000. It failed to sell and was
"bought in" for $75,000. Its provenance includes
Harry Webb of Shelburne, Vt., and the Gerald Peters Gallery of
settled in the Earl of Selkirk's Red River colony near what is
now Winnipeg in 1821. Other versions of this scene are in the
National Archives of Canada in Ottawa, the United States Military
Academy Museum at West Point and the Hudson's Bay Company in Winnipeg.
"As later artists' depictions of the western frontier attest,"
the catalogue noted, "the theme of the buffalo hunt was to
become endemic throughout 19th Century American art. None, however,
would depict the majesty of the buffalo and the vision of the
West which it represented more poignantly than Rindisbacher. The
Buffalo Hunt services as one of the earliest
of the white man's exploration of this frontier.
"Worship of the Sun, Dakota Dancers," is a 6-by-9-inch
watercolor, shown above, by Seth Eastman that is dated 1852 and
has a conservative estimate of $80,000 to $120,000. It sold
for $120,000, not including the buyer's premium.
studied drawing while at West Point before being assigned to Fort
Crawford on the Mississippi River where for four years he documented
tribal gatherings and in 1830 he was transferred to Fort Snelling
in Minnesota, now Minneapolis, and then served from 1831-3 as
the artist for a topographical reconnaissance mission of frontier
forts. From 1841 to 1848, he returned to Fort Snelling and sketched
both Dakota and Chippewa subjects. The Sun Dance depicted in this
lot was performed by two young men who would dance with whistles
in their mouths for several days while fasting.
provides the additional following commentary:
such as these in Eastman's collections were received with great
acclaim by artists' circles. In 1848 he exhibited a number of
them at the National Academy of Design and Cincinnati's Western
Art Union. A critic from the St. Louis Republican noted 'Since
we have known something of Eastman's pictures, and of Indians,
we have ranked him as out of sight the best painter of Indian
life the country has produced; a superior artist to Catlin - he
has lived and painted for years among the Indians, where Catlin
has spent months; his gallery now, is far more complete in all
that relates to Indian character, than is Catlin's; and there
is in the latter, an effort at effect, as apparent as in the truth
of Eastman, to any one who has really seen Indians.' As a result
of Eastman's success and the positive reception of his work, he
and his family were moved to Washington, D.C., in 1851 to work
for the Bureau of Indian Affairs. He had been chosen as the official
illustrator for a five-year, Congress-approved publication to
record all of the Indian tribes of the United States, authored
by Henry Rowe Schoolcraft. The result was the six-volume Historical
and Statistical Information Respecting the History, Condition,
and Prospects of the Indian Tribes of the United States (1851-1857).
The illustrations for these volumes were etchings based upon original
works executed by Eastman while at Fort Snelling. Published on
November 30, 1852, Worship of the Sun, Dakota Dancers appears
as an engraving executed by R. Hinshelwood in volume III as plate
"Mirage on the Prairie," is a 8 3/4-by-13 1/2-inch watercolor
on paper by Alfred Jacob Miller, shown above. Painted circa 1840,
it has an estimate of $200,000 to $300,000. It sold for
not including the buyer's premium. The work has been widely
exhibited and published.
contains an extensive quotation from Miller's notes of his 1837
expedition with Captain William Drummond Stewart for the American
Fur Company that documents the "mirage" depicted in
this lot. "In itself," the catalogue entry observes,
Mirage on the Prairie is a beautiful and romantic document of
expedition life depicting the caravan of men, horses and supplies
in the midst of the prairie. Wagons and mules laden with supplies,
and men on horseback and on foot, all converge and proceed out
into the wide expanse of the western plains. The vivid foreground
colors of pristine white in the covered wagon, and the brilliant
red of the front man on horseback, coupled with the movement away
from the viewer, entices one to travel with the group out into
the expanse. This and similar watercolors convey an intense and
immediate experience of miler's trip, whose beauty, but harsh
reality, is brought to attention by Miller's narrative relating
to the image."
Eastman and Miller were, along with Catlin and Karl Bodmer, the
first generation of fine artists who documented the early forays
by whites of the West.
generation of great artists of the West included Thomas Moran
and Albert Bierstadt and Lot 69, "Mount Hood, Oregon,"
an 11-by-20-inch oil on paper laid down on canvas is a fine example
of his majestic vistas. It is dated 1863 and has a conservative
estimate of $150,000 to $200,000. It sold for $140,000 not
including the buyer's premium. "Bierstadt's genius,"
the catalogue noted, "was his ability to summarize the spirit
of Manifest Destiny in such spectacular and rich lands of the
West as seen in Mount Hood, Oregon."
Lot 6, "White
Breasted Hawk," is a rare pastel, pencil and chalk on paper
by John James Audubon. It measures 20 1/4 by 16 1/2 inches and
has a conservative estimate of $100,000 to $150,000. It sold
for $230,000 not including the buyer's premium. Between 1827
and 1838, Audubon published his four-volume "Birds of America"
that contained 1,055 life-sized birds printed and hand-colored
on 435 elephant folio sheets, of which White Breasted Hawk is
one. "It is a fine example of Audubon's ability to observe
delicate nuances of color and form while giving life to the bird
he delineates," the catalogue observed.
includes some fine Eastern landscapes.
"Majestic View at Day's End - view of Lake Winnipesaukee
from Red Hill, New Hampshire," is a good oil on canvas laid
down on board, 26 1/2 by 35 7/8 inches, painted circa 1850s by
Victor de Grailly. The artist achieved wide acclaim for his painted
versions of engravings by William Henry Bartlett that were published
in American Scenery in 1840. This work is based on
Bartlett engraving and has a conservative estimate of $8,000 to
$12,000. It sold for $9,000 not including the buyer's premium.
Lot 22 is
a beautiful view of "Silver Lake" with streaks of sunlight
breaking through the clouds above a mountain by Homer Dodge Martin.
The 24 1/2-by-40 1/4-inch oil on canvas has a conservative estimate
of $10,000 to $15,000 and was once in the collection of Newhouse
Galleries in New York. It sold for $20,000 not including the
Lot 30 is
a strong work notable for its reddish hues by Francis Augustus
Silva, entitled "Sunset, New York Harbor." The 9-by-18-inch
oil on canvas was painted circa 1876 and was once in the collection
of Alexander Galleries in New York. It has a conservative estimate
of $60,000 to $80,000. It was "passed" at $55,000.
The catalogue notes that Silva was a leading force along
Fitz Hugh Lane (1804-1865) and Martin Johnson Heade (1819-1904)
of the Luminist movement and that "it was under Silva that
the Luminist's serene and fluid treatment of light reached its
apex," adding that this work is "a brilliant evocation
"Schroon Lake, New York (Five Figures in a Landscape),"
is a very nice oil on canvas, 17 by 31 inches, by Ralph Albert
Blakelock. The painting was executed circa 1875 to 1880 and has
an estimate of $150,000 to $200,000. It was "passed"
at $75,000. Blakelock is best known for his moonlit night
scenes of forests and Indian encampments that are very painterly
and poetic and were quite different from his earlier "Hudson
River School style" landscapes of which this is a fine example.
who stylistically was influenced by Blakelock was Elliott Daingerfield
and Lot 54, "Bringing Home Firewood," a 20 1/8-by-14
1/8-inch oil on canvas, is a superb and vibrant impressionist
work by him. Dated 1890, it has an estimate of $20,000 to $30,000.
It was "passed" at $17,000.
"Still Life with Grapes and Peaches," is a lush and
magnificent work by Joseph Decker that was painted circa 1880-90.
One of the artist's largest still lifes, the oil on canvas measures
16 by 29 1/2 inches and has an estimate of $150,000 to $200,000.
It was "passed" at $95,000.
"A Spanish Woman (Gigia)," is a 22-by-18-inch oil on
canvas by John Singer Sargent that is bold and absorbing. Painted
circa 1879-1882, it has an estimate of $700,000 to $900,000. It
failed to sell and was "bought in" at $525,000.
Sargent studied with Carlos-Duran, the portrait painter, who urged
his students to study Velasquez and Sargent traveled to Madrid
in 1879 and copied works by the master.
provides the following commentary:
present work clearly derives its restrained palette from Velasquez's
example. Here Sargent has limited himself to velvety blacks, a
rich cocoa brown, and a subtle range of gold to describe the sitter's
exposed body. A Spanish Woman (Gigia) also shares the radically
simplified composition of Velasquez's work, placing a single figure
against a shallow, neutral background. Also notable is Sargent's
use of tenebristic shadows. Eschewing crisp, linear contours,
the artist crates convincing anatomical volume with dramatic patches
of dark and light. Although strikingly beautiful, this woman is
not idealized. Her distinctive facial features, unkempt hair,
and modest, unassuming garments betray a model of common, everyday
origins. Indeed, this quality of the present work raises perplexing
questions about the sitter's precise identity. Many of Sargent's
works from the early 1880s feature Gigia Viani, an Italian woman
whom Sargent met while in Venice. She become the artist's favorite
model....While the word 'Gigia' is inscribed on the stretcher
of the present work, and apparently written in the artist's own
hand, the sitter's appearance ultimately renders this identification
questionable.Despite her possible anonymity, the sitter of the
present work remains a fully conceived individual. Sargent has
endowed this portrait with a striking psychological presence.
The woman appears rather anxious, as through startled by a movement
beyond the picture frame."
and more certain of identity is Lot 102, "Mrs. Harris Whittemore
and Baby Helen," a 23-by-19-inch pastel on paper by Mary
Cassatt that is the cover illustration of the catalogue and is
shown at the top of this article. The very beautiful pastel was
executed in 1898 and has an estimate of $2,000,000 to $3,000,000.
It failed to sell and was "bought in" at $1,200,000.
is a delightful work by Robert Henri. Entitled "Little Dreamer,"
it is an oil on board that measures 23 3/4 by 18 3/4 inches and
has a conservative estimate of $10,000 to $15,000. It sold
for $26,000 not including the buyer's premium.
Lot 95 is
an excellent oil on canvas, 20 by 24 inches, by Emil Carlsen that
is luminous and abstract. Entitled "The South Strand, Skagen,"
it has a conservative estimate of $10,000 to $15,000. It sold
for $31,000 not including the buyer's premium.
"The Launching of the 'Defender," is a very nice watercolor
and pencil on paper, 19 1/4 by 26 1/4 inches, by Joseph Otis Minott.
Dated 1895, it has a conservative estimate of $6,000 to $8,000.
It sold for $7,500 not including the buyer's premium. The
Defender was a yacht financed by William K.
Oliver Iselin and Edwin Morgan and got stuck on some bolts from
the ways at its launching and, according to the catalogue, took
two days to "unstick." It went own to defeat the British
Valkyrie III in the ninth challenge for the
One of the
finest works in this auction is Lot 61, "Tattered and Torn,"
shown above, by Alfred Kappes. Dated 1886, the 40-by-32-inch oil
on canvas has an estimate of $75,000 to $100,000 and is in the
great tradition of the best paintings by Thomas Eakins. It
sold for $75,000 not including the buyer's premium.
a genre painter in New York City in the late 19th century, Alfred
Kappes was elected an Associate member of the National Academy
of Design in 1887. This same year, he exhibited Tattered and
Torn at the Boston Art Club. Kappes was renowned during his
career for his sensitive portrayal of the lives of the African-American
community, and was recognized as such in art reviews of the day.
Kappes was also known for his illustration work, specifically
the sketches of the homes and tombs of Thomas Jefferson and James
142 offered lots, 42 did not sell.