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Important American Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture

Christie's

10AM, May 19, 2004

Sale 1520

Lot 23, "Jessica Penn in Black and White Plumes," by Robert Henri, oil on canvas, 77 by 38 inches, 1908

By Carter B. Horsley

The American Paintings auction at Christie's May 19, 2004, is highlighted by several superb Hudson River School landscapes, a great Impressionist landscape by William Metcalf, an impressive portrait by Robert Henri, a wonderful painting of nudes by John O'Brien Inman, a charming work by Eastman Johnson, a good nautical work by Julius LeBlanc Stewart, and a fine Charles Caryl Coleman.

It was a very successful sale with 84 percent of the 217 offered lots selling for $40,669,200. Auction records were set for seven artists.

The highest price realized was $3,600,000, including the buyer's premium as do all results mentioned in this article, for Lot 23, "Jessica Penn in Black and White Plumes," by Robert Henri, (1865-1929). The price was a record for Henri, the leader of the Ashcan School that flourished in New York City at the turn of the 20th Century. The oil on canvas, which was the cover illustration of the auction catalogue, measures 77 by 38 inches and has a modest estimate of $1,000,000 to $1,500,000. Although the Ashcan School focused primarily on urban scenes in opposition to the society portraits of "White Ladies" that were fashionable with many Boston painters at the time, this Henri holds its own with major portraits by John Singer Sargent and William Merritt Chase, leading contemporaries of Henri. Henri is an uneven artist who is best known as a highly influential teacher.

"In this full-length masterpiece, Henri portrays a woman whose carefree hair, causal stance, pentrating stare and ruffled gloves exude a unique character coposed of emotional strength and beauty. Henri began painting life studies of dancers as early as 1896 in Paris, and again later in 1904 when he painted Mariana Bustamente in Spanish Dancer-Sevilliana (Private collection). Henri's favorite model, however, was the Ziefeld Follies dancer, Jesseca Penn (in the present work, Henri has misspelled Penn's first name). She was tall, had a small waist and, like both his wives, she was a redhead....Jesseca Penn told Henri that, 'she intended to become the greatest dancer in the world,;' but to Henri she was 'one of the finest nudes I have ever seen,' (as quoted in B. B. Perlman, Robert Henri: His Life and Art, New York, 1991, p. 57).

The auction has two superb works by Martin J. Heade (1819-1904).

"Jersey Meadows with Ruins of a Haycart" by Heade

Lot 17, "Jersey Meadows with Ruins of a Haycart," by Martin Johnson Heade, oil on canvas, 12 by 24 inches, circa 1881

Martin Johnson Heade (1819-1904) is one of the few 19th Century American painters to be well-known for several different subjects. He is perhaps best known for his sunset meadow or march scenes of which Lot 11, "Jersey Meadows with Ruins of a Haycart," is an outstanding example. An oil on canvas that measures 12 by 24 inches, it was executed circa 1881. It has a conservative estimate of $250,000 to $350,000. It sold for $553,600. His finest painting is a small work that shows one of these "meadow" landscapes on a easel beneath which lurk two gremlins. Heade also did some memorable landscapes of storms, and some exotic coastal scenes in Florida and South America.

"Hummingbird Perched on an Orchid Plant"

Lot 71, "Hummingbird Perched on an Orchid Plant," by Martin J. Heade, oil on canvas, 20 1/4 by 15 1/4 inches, 1901

Heade also painted still-lifes and his series of magnolia blossoms are highly treasured, but his most impressive works are probably his hummingbird-and-orchid pictures of which Lot 71, "Hummingbird Perched on an Orchid Plant," is a prime example. An oil on canvas that measures 20 1/4 by 15 1/4 inches, it was executed in 1901. It has a conservative estimate of $500,000 to $700,000. It sold for $1,136,000 and was once in the collection of Dr. and Mrs. David B. Pall of Roslyn, New York.

"Eagle Rock, Manchester" by Kensett

Lot 12, "Eagle Rock, Manchester," by John Frederick Kensett, oil on canvas, 14 1/4 by 24 1/4 inches, 1859

John F. Kensett (1816-1872) is one of the finest 19th Century landscape artists whose oeuvre encompasses classic Hudson River School scenes like "Lake George" and "Bash-Bish Falls" and Luminist coast scenes. His Luminist works typically had marvelous light and many were simple, almost abstract compositions. Some of his coastal scenes also had more complex and dynamic compositions and one of his favorites was Eagle Rock in Manchester. Lot 12 is a medium-size oil on canvas of this stretch of beach that is notable for its bold reflective pools of water in the lower left of the painting and the fine treatment of the sky. Executed in 1859, it measures 14 1/4 by 24 1/4 inches. It has an estimate of $700,000 to $1,000,000. It failed to sell.

"New England Coastal View with Figures" by Kensett

Lot 95, "New England Coastal View with Figures," by John Frederick Kensett, oil on canvas, 14 by 24 inches, 1864

A more beautiful Kensett is Lot 95, "New England Coastal View with Figures," an oil on canvas that measures 14 by 24 inches. Executed in 1864, it is quite bright with brilliant blue waters and more clouds than the artist usually depicted and a very strong composition. It has a modest estimate of $200,000 to $300,000. It sold for $352,000.

The auction has two great paintings by Sanford R. Gifford (1823-1880), one of the major Hudson River School artists.

"Fire Island Beach" by Gifford

Lot 16, "Fire Island Beach," by Sanford R. Gifford, oil on canvas, 13 1/2 by 27 1/2 inches, 1878

Lot 13 is a very dramatic "Fire Island Beach" scene by Gifford that is quite abstract and one of the artist's masterpieces. An oil on canvas, it measures 13 1/2 by 27 1/2 inches. Painted in 1878, it has a conservative estimate of $800,000 to $1,200,000. It sold for $2,144,000, an auction record for Gifford.

"Summer Idyll" by Gifford

Lot 13, "Summer Idyll," by Sanford R. Gifford, oil on canvas, 18 1/4 by 15 1/4 inches, 1860

Lot 13 is a classic Hudson River School work by Gifford. Entitled "Summer Idyll," it incorporates his luminous sky and brilliant coloration. It has a very modest estimate of $250,000 to $350,000. It sold for $475,000. "...Gifford cloaks the landscape of Summer Idyll in a serene light and hazy atmosphere evoking a soft and poetic mood. Divine and pristine, the landscape appears to be untouched by the hand of man; however, a sole isolated figure under the tree in the foreground indicates the onset of man's encroachment on paradise. Gifford emphasizes closely related values in order to create a feeling of unity as well as to reveal nature's harmonious interworkings. Through his rich depiction of luminous light, Gifford is suggesting a transcendental notion of the passage from God to Nature to Man." the catalogue entry stated.

"Autumn Landscape" by Cropsey

Lot 11, "Autumn Landscape," by Jasper Francis Cropsey, oil on canvas, 12 by 20 1/4 inches, 1877

Jasper Francis Cropsey (1823-1900) is known as the American painter of autumn and he is represented in the auction by two lovely works, Lots 11 and 98. The former is entitled "Autumn Landscape" and is an oil on canvas that measures 12 by 20 1/4 inches. Executed in 1877, it has a very modest estimate of $50,000 to $70,000. It sold for $192,000. It is a fairly unusual composition for Cropsey with a relatively dark foreground beneath a brilliantly luminous sky.

Lot 98, "Figures on the Hudson River," by Jasper Francis Cropsey, oil on canvas, 12 by 20 inches, 1874

Lot 98 is a classic and more typical Cropsey. Entitled "Figures on the Hudson River," it is an oil on canvas that measures 12 by 20 inches. Painted in 1874, it has a conservative estimate of $150,000 to $240,000. It sold for $419,200.

"Bathing Beauties on the Hudson" by Inman

Lot 8, "Bathing Beauties on the Hudson," by John O'Brien Inman, oil on canvas laid down on board, 11 3/4 by 18 inches, 1887

Nudes are a relatively rare subject in 19th Century American painting. Lot 8 is perhaps the best American painting of nudes and certainly the connoisseur's choice in this auction. "Entitled "Bathing Beauties on the Hudson," is is an oil on canvas laid down on board by John O'Brien Inman (1828-1896). It measures 11 3/4 by 18 inches and was executed in 1887. It has a modest estimate of $30,000 to $50,000. It sold for $156,000. The painting was once in the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Magriel of New York and has been published numerous times. Apart from the many interesting poses, the painting is brilliant in its contrasting the fleshy tones of the "beauties" against the dark overcast sky.

"The Little Soldier" by Eastman Johnson

Lot 87, "The Little Soldier," by Eastman Johnson, oil on board, 14 1/2 by 11 1/2 inches, 1864

Eastman Johnson (1824-1906) is one of America's greatest genre painters whose painters of old homes in the south, maple-syrup gatherers, corn huskers, and cranberry pickers are among the most famous icons in American mid-19th Century painting. His interior studies of people around a stove and of young women picking flowers or standing in a field or daydreaming by a window are of a very high standard. Johnson also is well known for Civil War subjects such as "The Wounded Drummer Boy" and some of his paintings of young children, such as "The Old Stagecoach" and "In the Hayloft" are masterpieces. Lot 87, "The Little Soldier," is a small oil on board that measures 14 1/2 by 11 1/2 inches. It was painted in 1864 and is a picturesque and charming study that has an estimate of $400,000 to $600,000. It sold for $856,000, more than three times what it fetched at auction a a few years ago.

"East Hampton Beach" by Moran

Lot 107, "East Hampton Beach," by Thomas Moran, oil on canvas, 16 by 20 inches, 1894

Thomas Moran (1837-1926) and Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902) are known as the great painters of the American West whose depictions of its natural wonders inspired dreams of "Manifest Destiny." Moran was known as "the American Turner" because of his grandiloquent vistas and his many paintings of Venice that showed the influence of the great English painter. Moran also did quite a few Long Island scenes and Lot 107, "East Hampton Beach," is a particularly interesting work because it is quite abstract in its composition. An oil on canvas that measures 16 by 20 inches, it was painted in 1894. It has an estimate of $60,000 to $80,000. It sold for $57,600.

"Landscape" by Bierstadt

Lot 109, "Landscape," by Albert Bierstadt, oil on board, 10 3/4 by 13 3/4 inches, 1858

Lot 109 is a small but very dramatic and classic mountain scene with a waterfall by Albert Bierstadt. An oil on board that measures 10 3/4 by 13 3/4 inches, it was painted in 1858. It is a bit dark but probably will brighten considerably when cleaned. It has a modest estimate of $40,000 to $60,000. It sold for $38,400.

"Artic Whaler Homeward Bound Among the Icebergs" by Bradford

Lot 103, "Artic Whaler Homeward Bound Among the Icebergs," by William Bradford, oil on canvas, 20 by 30 inches, 1884

While Moran and Bierstadt explored the American West, William Bradford (1823-1892) focused on the Artic and icebergs. Lot 103 "Arctic Whaler Homeward Bound Among the Icebergs," is a good example of his work, an oil on canvas that measures 20 by 30 inches. Painted in 1884, it has an estimate of $120,000 to $180,000. It sold for $192,000. A more grandiose, but almost too dramatic Bradford is Lot 102, "Arctic Sunset with Rainbow," an oil on canvas that measures 30 by 48 inches. Executed in 1877, it has an estimate of $150,000 to $250,000. It sold for $352,000.

"The Red Oak (No. 2)" by Metcalf

Lot 20, "The Red Oak (No. 2)," by Willard Leroy Metcalf, oil on canvas, 40 by 43 inches, 1911

Lot 20 is a very beautiful landscape entitled "The Red Oak (No. 2)," by Willard Leroy Metcalf (1858-1925). An oil on canvas, it measures 40 by 43 inches and was painted in Cornish, New Hampshire in 1911. It has an estimate of $600,000 to $800,000. It sold for $1,584,000, an auction record for the artist.

"Yachting in the Mediterranean" by Stewart

Lot 74, "Yachting in the Mediterranean," by Julius LeBlanc Stewart, oil on canvas, 43 1/2 by 63 1/2 inches, 1896

Julius LeBlanc Stewart (1855-1919) is a relatively minor academic painter but he excelled in society yachting pictures that were marked by dynamic and unusual compositions. Lot 74, "Yachting in the Mediterranean," is an extremely bright and fine example of his craft. An oil on canvas that measures 43 1/2 by 63 1/2 inches, it was painted in 1896. It has an ambitious estimate of $1,200,000 to $1,800,000. It sold for $2,312,000, a record for the artist.

"Women in the Wheat Fields, Anacapri," by Charles C. Coleman

Lot 65, "Women in the Wheat Fields, Anacapri," by Charles Caryl Coleman, oil on canvas, 34 1/2 by 67 1/4 inches, 1887

Works by Charles Caryl Coleman (1840-1928) appear rarely on the auction block. An extremely fine painter, this large and impressive work is notable for the exquisite and very detailed brushwork of the wheat and the marvelous quality of light in the background. Entitled "Women in the Wheat Fields, Anacapri," this work is an oil on canvas that measures 34 1/2 by 67 1/4 inches. Executed in 1887, it has a modest estimate of $250,000 to $350,000. It sold for $598,400.

Lot 197, "Movement, Sails," is a fine abstract work by Marsden Hartley (1877-1943). An oil on board that measures 24 by 20 inches, it was painted in 1916 and has a modest estimate of $800,000 to $1,200,000. It sold for $1,696,000.

See The City Review article on the Spring 2005 American Paintings auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2004 American Paintings auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2004 American Paintings auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2004 American Paintings auction at Sotheby'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

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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

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See The City Review Article on the Spring 2000 American Paintings auction at Sotheby's

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

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

 

 

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