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.
a very successful sale with 84 percent of the 217 offered lots
selling for $40,669,200. Auction records were set for seven artists.
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.
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
of Henri. Henri is an uneven artist who is best known as a highly
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).
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,
has two superb works by Martin J. Heade (1819-1904).
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
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.
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
once in the collection of Dr. and Mrs. David B. Pall of Roslyn,
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.
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
has two great paintings by Sanford R. Gifford (1823-1880), one
of the major Hudson River School artists.
Lot 13 is a very dramatic "Fire
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
(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.
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.
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
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.
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
an auction record for the artist.
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.
65, "Women in the Wheat Fields, Anacapri," by Charles
Caryl Coleman, oil on canvas, 34 1/2 by 67 1/4 inches, 1887
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.
"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.