Art/Auctions logo

American Paintings Auction

Sotheby's

May 18, 2005

Sale 8096

"Girl Raking Hay" by Theodore Robinson

Lot 29, "Girl Raking Hay," by Theodore Robinson, oil on canvas, 18 1/2 by 15 1/2 inches, circa 1890

By Carter B. Horsley

This auction of America Paintings at Sotheby's May 18, 2005 is highlighted by great Impressionist paintings by Theodore Robinson, John Twachtman and William Merritt Chase, fine works by Andrew Wyeth, Edward Hopper and Thomas Hart Benton, and excellent works by Oscar Bluemner, Charles Sheeler, Martin J. Heade, Jasper Francis Cropsey, Sanford R. Gifford and Frank Benson.

Lot 29, entitled "Girl Raking Hay," is a masterpiece by Theodore Robinson (1852-1896) that is distinguished from its simple composition and subject matter and limited palette, all trademarks of his style, by its extraordinarily vibrant and exciting brushwork. An oil on canvas that measures 18 1/2 by 15 1/2 inches, it was painted circa 1890 and is the back cover illustration of the auction's catalogue. Despite its relatively small size, it has a conservative estimate of $400,000 to $600,000.

Detail of lot 29

Detail of Lot 29

It sold for $800,000 including the buyer's premium as do all results mentioned in this article. The sale total was more than $40 million and 81.6 percent of the offered lots sold. Robinson's oeuvre is inconsistent and marked by many relatively drab works, but he did produce several works that are breathtaking and hold their own with those of any Impressionist such as this one. The catalogue notes that the woman in the painting is Josephine Trognon, who the artist photographed and who appears in other works by him in the Brooklyn Museum and the Canojoharie Library and Art Gallery. "The present work appears to display traces of a grid pattern, indicated that the preliminary study...have also have been a photograph. These paintings of the early 1800s successfully merge Robinston's figurative painting with his sophisticated Impressionist style. In Girl Taking Hay, sponteanous strokes of white and plae blue in Josephines' dress echo the thin straws of hay surrounding her, while short, precise dabs of green pigment depict the landscape beyond. Suffused with light and color, the present painting vividly evokes the peace and beauty of the French countryside." The landscape, of course, could be anywhere. The boldness of Robinson's treatment of the hay here is sensational and the diagonal position of the rake accentuates the swirling composition augmented by the angled hill in the background the tilt of the figure's hat brim. Her face and hands are very skillfully depicted. This is a very beautiful picture.

"Winter Harmony" by Twachtman

Lot 22, "Winter Harmony," by John H. Twacthman, oil on canvas, 18 by 26 inches, circa 1890s

Like Robinson, John Henry Twachtman (1853-1902) is an inconsistent Impressionist painter, but both at their best are extremely poetic and they produced some of the greatest Impressionist paintings. Lot 22, for example, "Winter Harmony," is a fine combination of the Whistlerian temperament of tonalism and Impressionist technique. An oil on canvas that measures 18 by 26 inches, it was executed circa 1890s. It has a modest estimate of $150,000 to $250,000. It sold for $144,000, indicating that Twachtman, like Robinson, remains seriously undervalued in the art market.

"Golden landscape" by Twachtman

Lot 40, "Golden landscape," by John H. Twachtman, oil on canvas, 25 by 30 inches, circa 1890-1900

Another fine Twachtman is Lot 40, "Golden landscape," on oil on canvas that measures 25 by 30 inches. Executed circa 1890-1900 it is more colorful and conventional than Lot 22 as well as substantially larger. It has an estimate of $250,000 to $350,000. It sold for $296,000.

"The Artist's Daughters (The Dining Room)" by Benson

Lot 7, "The Artist's Daughters (The Dining Room)," by Frank W. Benson, oil on canvas, 26 by 36 inches, 1906

Frank W. Benson (1862-1951) is a later American Impressionist who is not in the same elevated league as Robinson and Twachtman. Benson painted many pictures of beautiful young ladies, usually in white dresses, in nice interiors and later in his career also painted many hunting scenes. Lot 7, "The Artist's Daughters (The Dining Room)," is the cover illustration of this auction's catalogue and is a lovely example of his earlier work and is dated 1906. An oil on canvas that measures 26 by 36 inches, it has an estimate of $2,500,000 to $3,500,000. It sold for $3,375,000. One of Benson's typical, illustrative hunting pictures, Lot 42, "The First Shot," has an estimate of $350,000 to $450,000. It sold for $632,000.

Lot 23, "Friendly Advice, by William Merritt Chase, oil on canvas, 30 by 36 inches, 1913

William Merritt Chase is widely regarded as America's finest Impressionist painter and Lot 41, "Friendly Advice," is pretty good proof. The 30-by-36-inch oil on canvas is very loosely painted and has a very lovely quality of light coming through a tall window and brightening the white dress of one of the two women seated in a very opulent interior with tall marble columns. The work was painted in 1913 and has a conservative estimate of $ 1,000,000 to $1,500,000 when it came up for auction in 2002, with a different albeit good frame, and failed to sell. This time it has an estimate of $500,000 to $700,000. It sold for $912,000.

The catalogue notes that this "recently discovered" painting was exhibited in Chase's gallery at the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, the last major showing of his work before his death. According to the catalogue, this painting was executed in Venice.

The American Impressionist section of the auction is also highlighted by a very good Mary Cassatt (1845-1926), two good New York scenes by Edward W. Redfield (1869-1965) and a fine landscape by Daniel Garber (1880-1958).

The Cassatt, Lot 26, "Little Girl in a Stiff, Round Hat, Looking to Right in a Sunny Garden," was consigned from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas J. Watson Jr. An oil on canvas, it measures 15 by 18 1/4 inches and was painted circa 1909. Charming and lovely, the small work is boldly accented with the child's black brimmed hat. It has an estimate of $700,000 to $900,000. It sold for $1,248,000.

The Cigna Museum and Art Collection consigned the two Redfields. Lot 12, "Brooklyn Bridge at Night," a 36-by-50-inch oil on canvas executed in 1909, has an estimate of $150,000 to $250,000. It sold for $996,000, an auction record for Redfield. Lot 11, "Lower New York, a 38-by-50-inch oil on canvas executed circa 1910, has an estimate of $150,000 to $250,000. It sold for $441,600. Inasmuch as neither of these works are masterpieces, it is obvious that the market for Redfield is accelerating.

Lot 16 is a excellent landscape by Garber entitled "Reflections." An oil on canvas that measures 36 by 40 inches, it has an estimate of $300,000 to $500,000. It sold for $553,600.

"Sunny Day on the Marsh..." by Heade

Lot 123, "Sunny Day on the Marsh (Newburyport Meadows)," by Martin J. Heade, oil on canvas, 13 by 26 1/4 inchees, circa 1871-5

Lot 123 is a beautiful and excellent marsh/meadow painting by Martin J. Heade (1819-1904). Entitled "Sunny Day on the Marsh (Newburyport Meadows)," it is an oil on canvas that measures 13 by 26 1/4 inches. Executed circa 1871-5, it has an estimate of $800,000 to $1,200,000. It sold for $2,760,000, an auction record for Heade.

Two hummingbirds and two orchids by Heade

Lot 115, "Two Hummingbirds, Two Types of Orchids and a Palm Tree," by Martin J. Heade, oil on canvas, 20 1/4 by 15 inches, circa 1890-1904

Lot 115 is a beautiful and classic hummingbird and orchid picture by Martin J. Heade. Entitled "Two Hummingbirds, Two Types of Orchids and a Palm Tree," it is an oil on canvas that measures 20 1/4 by 15 inches. It was executed between 1890 and 1904 and has an estimate of $1,200,000 to $1,800,000. It sold for $1,304,000.

"Along the Beach, Cape Ann" by Gifford

Lot 117, "Along the Beach, Cape Ann, Massachusetts," by Sanford R. Gifford, oil on canvas, 7 1/2 by 18 3/4 inches, 1878

Lot 117 is an excellent coastal scene with several figures by Sanford R. Gifford (1823-1880). Entitled "Along the Beach, Cape Ann, Massachusetts," it is an oil on canvas that measures 7 1/2 by 18 3/4 inches. It is dated 1878 and has a conservative estimate of $100,000 to $150,000. It sold for $192,000.

"The Highlands of the Hudson River" by Church

Lot 144, "The Highlands of the Hudson River," by Frederic Edwin Church, oil on canvas, 14 by 21 inches, 1866

Frederic Edwin Church (1826-1900) and Albert Bierstadt were the grandiloquent American painters of the 19th Century and the majesty of their painted visions were awe-inspiring to many. Lot 144 is a small but pleasant landscape by Church that is entitled "The Highlands of the Hudson River." An oil on canvas that measures 14 by 21 inches, it is dated 1866 and was once in the collection of Mrs. A. Perry Osborn of Garrison-on-Hudson, New York. The scene depicts the view from Castle Rock, the home of William Henry Osborn, the railroad entrepreneur. It has a modest estimate of $300,000 to $500,000. It sold for $1,052,000.

A small bit excellent Bierstadt, Lot 124, "Sunset Over The River," has an estimate of $50,000 to $70,000. It is an oil on paper that measures 6 1/4 by 9 inches. It sold for $251,200.

"Hudson River from Dudley's Grove" by Cropsey

Lot 111, "Hudson River from Dudley's Grove," by Jasper Francis Cropsey, oil on canvas, 12 1/4 by 20 1/4 inches, 1855

Jasper Francis Cropsey (1823-1900) is known as the American painter of Autumn but Lot 111 is an excellent early work by him that is notable for its very strong sense of depth, its fine composition, its lovely use of sunset colors and reflections and the intrusion of the locomotive in this idyllic Hudson River setting. An oil on canvas that measures 12 1/4 by 20 1/4 inches, it is entitled "Hudson River from Dudley's Grove." Painted in 1855, it has a modest estimate of $80,000 to $120,000. It sold for $132,000.

Lot 127, "Coastal Sunset," by John F. Kensett, oil on canvas, 14 by 24 inches, 1864

John F. Kensett is one of the great Hudson River School painters who also became a major Luminist. Lot 127 is a good example of his transition between the two styles. "Entitled "Coastal Sunset," it is a 14-by-24-inch oil on canvas that is dated 1864. It was once in the collection of the New York Public Library, which sold it at Parke-Bernet Galleries in 1943. The library recently came under some criticism for selling Asher B. Durand's famous "Kindred Spirits" for about $35 million to a member of the family that owns Walmart. This painting has an estimate of $200,000 to $300,000 and sold for $240,000.

"The Hudson River from Cold Spring" by John William Hill

Lot 110, "The Hudson River from Cold Spring," by John William Hill, watercolor on paper, 15 1/4 by 21 3/4 inches

Lot 110 is a very fine and bright watercolor on paper by John William Hill (1812-1879). Entitled "The Hudson River from Cold Spring," it measures 15 1/4 by 21 3/4 inches. It has an estimate of $25,000 to $35,000. It sold for $26,400.

Missouri Capitol mural study by Benton

Lot 85, "Missouri State Capitol Mural: Social History of Missouri: St. Louis and Kansas City, Frankie and Johnny - study," by Thomas Hart Benton, tempera on masonite, 18 by 30 1/2 inches, 1935

Lot 85 is a superb study for a mural by Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975) that is tempera on masonite and measures 18 by 30 1/2 inches. Entitled "Missouri State Capitol Mural: Social History of Missouri: St. Louis and Kansas City, Frankie and Johnny - study," it was executed in 1935 and has a modest estimate of $125,000 to $175,000. It sold for $475,200.

"A Moment in Another Town" by Bluemner

Lot 61, "A Moment in Another Town," by Oscar Bluemner, oil on panel, 8 by 10 inches, 1929

Oscar Bluemner, who will be the subject of a major retrospective exhibition later this year, was one of the leading early American modernists and Lot 61 is a fine example of his vibrant but limited palette, intriguing titles, and bold painterliness. Entitled "A Moment in Another Town," it is an oil on panel that measures 8 by 10 inches. Dated 1929, it has a modest estimate of $60,000 to $80,000. It sold for $340,800.

"Squam Light" by Hopper

Lot 74, "Squam Light," by Edward Hopper, oil on canvas, 24 by 29 inches, 1912

Edward Hopper (1882-1967) is best known for his haunting urban scenes of diners, movie theater interiors and street scenes. Christie's put a good example of his railroad car interior pictures, "Chair Car," in its Contemporary Art auction this season (see The City Review article on that auction) where it fetched $14,016,000, an auction record for Hopper. Lot 74 in this auction, "Squam Light," is in fact a better Hopper. An oil on canvas that measures 24 by 29 inches, it was executed in 1912 and has a modest estimate of $1,400,000 to $1,600,000. It sold for $1,584,000. Lighthouses were among Hopper's favorite subjects and this is fine composition with a great quality of light. Its lack of figures may explain the disparity in values, but those in "Chair Car" are rather clumsy.

"Battle Ensign" by Wyeth

Lot 78, "Battle Ensign," by Andrew Wyeth, tempera on panel, 22 3/4 by 30 1/2 inches, 1987

Lot 78 is a striking tempera on panel by Andrew Wyeth (b. 1917) entitled "Battle Ensign," which commemorates the death in 1987 of his long-term neighbor in Port Clyde, Maine, and friend, Walter Anderson. In an article by Thomas P. F. Hoving in Connoisseur magazine in December, 1990, and quoted in the catalogue entry for this lot, Wyeth was quoted as stating that "the picture's a damp one. I tried to do it in watercolor, and it didn't work; couldn't get the depth. I overlaid that flag in the tempera to make you feel the muslin of it, which'd turned yellow with age like an old bloody tooth. The red is blood red. Not a pretty color. It's a tough picture. It had to do with the loss of a close friend,Water Anderson, who died while I was doing it - that went into it because he was so much of the sea. It's the essence of storm, sea fights. I hung the flag backwards to have it not perfect, not the 'beautiful, flying, patriotic thing,' you know."

The tempera on panel measures 22 3/4 by 30 1/2 inches and was executed in 1987. It has an estimate of $1,500,000 to $2,000,000. It sold for $3,824,000.

"Red Sun" by Milton Avery

Lot 88, "Red Sun," by Milton Avery, oil on canvas, 44 by 50 inches, 1957

Milton Avery (1885-1965) was an American modernist heavily influenced by Matisse, but Lot 88 is an unusual and fine abstraction by him that is highly reminiscent of the sunburst works of Adolph Gottlieb. Entitled "Red Sun," it is an oil on canvas that measures 44 by 50 inches and was executed in 1957. It has an estimate of $400,000 to $600,000. It sold for $520,000.

"Petunia and Colleus" by O'Keeffe

Lot 65, "Petunia and Colleus," by Georgia O'Keeffe, oil on canvas, 36 by 30 inches, 1925

Lot 65 is an impressive flower painting by Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1986) that was included in Alfred Stieglitz's landmark 1925 exhibition at the Anderson Galleries in New York entitled "Alfred Stieglitz Presents Seven Americans," which also included works by Arthur G. Dove, Marsden Hartley, John Marin, CharlesDemuth, Paul Strand and Stieglitz himself. O'Keeffe had married Stieglitz in 1924. Entitled "Petunia and Colleus," this work is an oil on canvas that measures 36 by 30 inches. It has an estimte of $3,500,000 to $4,500,000. It failed to sell.

Other highlights of the "modern" section of this auction include Lot 75, "Against the Sky a Web has Spun," a 6-by-4 1/2-inch tempera on panel by Charles Sheeler (1883-1965), which has a modest estimate of $50,000 to $70,000 and sold for $168,000; and Lot 76, "Study of the Brooklyn Bridge," by Joseph Stella (1880-1946), a 20 3/4-by-16 1/2-inch watercolor that has a modest estimate of $25,000 to $35,000 and sold for $78,000; and Lot 96, "An Exotic Garden with Four Figures," by Charles Prendergast (1863-1948), a tempera, gold and silver leaf work on incised and gessoed panel, 31 by 19 1/2 inches that was executed circa 1916-8 and has a modest estimate of $80,000 to $120,000 and sold for $273,600.

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

See The City Review article on the Fall 2002 American Paintings Auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on The Fall 2002 American Paintings auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2002 American Paintings auction at Phillips de Pury & Luxembourg

See The City Review article on the Spring 2002 American Paintings auction at Phillips de Pury &

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

See The City Review article on the Spring 2000 American Paintings auction at Christie's

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

See The City Review article on the Fall 1999 American Paintings auction at Christie's

See The City Review on the Fall 1999 American Paintings auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review Article on the Spring 1999 American Paintings auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the May 27, 1999 auction of American Paintings at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall 1998 Important American Paintings Auctions at Sotheby’s and Christie’s

See The City Review article on the Spring 1998 Important American Paintings Auctions at Sotheby’s and Christie’s

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

 

 


Home Page of The City Review