Paintings auction at Christie's May 24, 2007 is highlighted by
a superb painting by Asher B. Durand, a fine Tonalist work by
George Inness, a very fine snow scene by John Henry Twachtman,
a striking landscape by Marsden Hartley, a good European scene
by John Singer Sargent, and fine works by Charles Sheeler. Charles
Demuth, Jacob Lawrence and Andrew Wyeth. Many of the better works
in auction have been consigned by museums.
Lot 62 is a major work by Asher
B. Durand (1796-1886),
the subject of an exhibition now at the Brooklyn Museum of Art.
Entitled "Pastoral Landscape," it is an oil on canvas
that measures 29 1/2 by 43 1/2 inches and is very similar to a
work of the same title at the National Gallery of Art. For a hundred
years, it was in the collection of the Spaulding Library in Athens,
Pennsylvania. It has a conservative estimate of $500,000 to $700,000.
It failed to sell and was passed at $420,000.
Lot 65 is a lovely Hudson River
by David Johnson (1827-1908) entitled "Old Kate's Bridge,
Rifton Glen, Ulster County, New York." An oil on canvas,
it measures 14 1/4 by 24 1/4 inches and is dated 1872. It has
an estimate of $80,000 to $120,000. It sold for $90,000
the buyer's premium as do all results mentioned in this article.
Lot 63 is a classic small work
by Jasper Francis
Cropsey (1823-1900) entitled "Mounts Adam and Eve, Orange
County, New York." An oil on canvas, it measures 12 by 20
inches. The painting depicts a view from the artist's summer home,
"Aladdin," near Warwick, New York, and it is one of
five known versions. The catalogue entry quotes Dr. Kenneth W.
Maddox that "The large lake in the foregorund is a complete
fabrication on the part of the artist," adding that "The
area was kown as the 'drowned lands' and in the distant past was
covered with water which has produced the rich black soil that
is now ideal for growing onions." It has an estimate of $150,000
to $250,000. It sold for $168,000.
Lot 95 is a landscape possibly
R.I., by Alexander Helwig Wyant (1836-1892). An oil on canvas
that measures 15 1/4 by 25 1/4 inches, it is entitled "The
Coming Storm." The lot was consigned by the Museum of the
City of New York. It has an estimate of $60,000 to $80,000. It
sold for $78,0000.
is a handsome scene
of the Green Mountains in Vermont by Joseph Rusling Meeker (1827-1889),
a painter known primarily for his lush bayou paintings. An oil
on canvas, it measures 15 by 35 1/4 inches. It has been consigned
by the Saint Louis Art Museum. It has an estimate of $30,000 to
$50,000. It sold for $31,200.
Another important work
consigned by the Museum
of the City of New York is Lot 100, "An Autumn Sunset,"
by George Inness (1825-1894). An oil on canvas tacked over panel,
it measures 30 by 45 inches and was executed in 1892. A very lyrical,
poetic and beautiful Tonalist painting, it has a modest estimate
of $400,000 to $600,000. It failed to sell and was passed at
Ferdinand Richardt (1819-1895)
scenes of Niagara Falls, mostly in a vertical format and many
in a rather pasty style. Lot 61, however, is a large and dramatic
horizontal view that is quite accomplished and impressive even
if it was painted a decade or so after major Niagara Falls paintings
by Frederic Church and Robert W. Weir. It is an oil on canvas
that measures 36 1/2 by 62 1/4 inches and was painted in 1865.
It has a modest estimate of $70,000 to $100,000. It sold for
Lot 87 is a sweet landscape of
the Hudson River
from West Point by James Edward Buttersworth (1817-1894). Buttersworth
is best known as his maritime pictures and this small painting
combines a wonderful sky with a slightly primitive landscape.
An oil on board, it measures 10 by 14 inches. It has an estimate
of $60,000 to $80,000. It sold for $72,000.
Lot 129, "Hemlocks" is a superb
scene by John Henry Twachtman (1853-1902). An oil on canvas, it
measures 22 by 18 inches and was painted circa 1889-1902. It has
been consigned by the Museum of the City of New York. It has a
conservative estimate of $250,000 to $350,000. It sold for
Lot 88 is a view of Gowanus Bay
Merritt Chase (1849-1916) that was probably painted circa 1887.
An oil on panel, it measures 10 1/4 by 15 1/4 inches and was once
in the collection of Seth Low, the Mayor of Brooklyn. It has an
ambitious estimate of $300,000 to $500,000. It sold for
Theodore Robinson (1852-1896)
is an American
Impressionist whose oeuvre is uneven but includes many exquisite
works. One such example is Lot 103, "A Normandy Garden, October."
An oil on canvas, it measures 18 1/4 by 22 inches and was executed
circa 1891. It has a modest estimate of $400,000 to $600,000.
It sold for $1,496,000.
Another Robinson, Lot 102,
is a simple but fine and abstract landscape. An oil on canvas,
it measures 9 3/4 by 10 inches. It has a very modest estimate
of $20,000 to $30,000. It sold for $38,400.
Lot 106, "A Tyrolese Crucifix,"
an interesting and strong composition by John Singer Sargent
An oil on canvas, it measures 36 by 28 1/4 inches and was painted
in 1915. It was formerly in the collection of S. Morton Vose and
Ruth D. Vose of Brookline, Massachusetts, the Corcoran Gallery
of Art in Washington, D.C., and Gloria and Richard Manney. The
catalogue states that it is "an intensely personal meditation
on family, religion and tradition in a time of conflict."
It has an estimate of $1,500,000 to $2,500,000. It sold for
Lot 138 is a very strong and
bright New Mexico
landscape by Marsden Hartley (1877-1943). An oil on canvas, it
measures 25 3/4 by 35 1/2 inches and was painted in 1923. It has
been consigned by the Cleveland Museum of Art and has been extensively
published. It has a modest estimate of $700,000 to $1,000,000.
It sold for $1,272,000.
Charles Sheeler (1883-1965) is
one of America's
great Precisionist paintings. Lot 28, "Stacks in Procession,"
is, according to the catalogue, "a classic example of Charles
Sheeler's unique fusion of art, industry and the Modern American
landscape," adding that in it "Sheeler depicts industrial
subjects as the temples of urban modernity, eliminating the
side of industry and reducing it to a pristie, Utopian ideal."
"The shape and rhythmic intervals of the magisterial smoke
stacks evoke the columns of a Greek temple imbusing htem with
a prescient permanence which speaks to America's fugure. Indeed,
nature is relegae to theperiphery of the composition, subsumed
by the industrial elements." A tempera on paper, it measures
18 3/4 by 27 3/4 inches and was painted in 1943. Sheeler's "urban
modernity," however, usually has little to do with urbanity
as his focus is usually on a factory aesthetic. This is not one
of his strongest or more colorful compositions. It has an estimate
of $200,000 to $300,000. It sold for $1,048,000.
Lot 29 is a large tempera on
panel by Andrew
Wyeth (b. 1917) entitled Ericksons. It measures 42 by 38 inches
and was executed in 1973. It is described by Christie's as one
of the artist's "masterworks" and has an estimate of
$4,000,000 to $6,000,000. It sold for $10,344,000, a world
auction record for the artist.
The catalogue entry includes a
the artist's 1995 autobiography concerning this work, noting that
the artist had intended to include Siri Erickson, the daughter
of George, who is depicted in the painting:
"...but she got mixed up with a
boyfriend and was too tired to pose. I was going to have her stand
next to her father - topless, which is the way she always was
around the house. I was fascinated by the woodstove behind him
and that white cup for his coffee. He's sitting in a strange kind
of chair - Victorian - looking out the window where the light
is coming in, with the sun shining down that long hall. It's an
absolute portrait of Erickson in his house. Portrait of a stove
with the shining silver -plated mechanisms. He kept it very polished.
He was a very interesting man. He came from Finland as a stonecutter
and worked in the Maine quarries and then in the shipyards of
Philadelphia. He fell off a roof and broke his back and became
an invalid. He married very late in his life and had this beautiful
daughter. All of that I wanted to get into this portrait. I believe
I did, too."
The catalogue entry for this
lot, which is
the cover illustration, also remarks on Wyeth's "haunting,
Despite his occasional outré
Wyeth's technical prowess as a painter is always remarkable and
extremely impressive. While it is interesting to learn about the
"absent" Siri and his joy of highlighting "that
white cup," a work of art should be able to stand on its
own with the personal and emotional associations, however fascinating.
The painting does not reveal that George was an invalid, but perhaps
more importantly, from an aesthetic viewpoint, is its less than
satisfying composition, especially from an artist whose compositions
are almost always precise and original. For this viewer, a more
tightly cropped composition would have been more appealing, but
then Wyeth has never been an artist much concerned with "appealing."
Lot 15 is a superb work by
Jacob Lawrence (1917-2000)
(see The City Review article)
"The Builders." A tempera on board, it measures 20 by
24 inches and was executed in 1947. The catalogue notes that Lawrence
"skillfully uses angular planes and fractured forms in bright
oranges, yellows and blues as the workers cross horizontally,
vertically and diagonally to disrupt the composition and change
the way we would typically view the subject matter." The
lot, which is from the collection of Benard Heineman Jr., has
an estimate of $400,000 to $600,000. It sold for $2,504,000,
a world auction record for the artist.
Another fine work from the
is Lot 13, "Kiss Me Over The Fence," by Charles Demuth
(1883-1935). A beautiful watercolor on paper, it measures 12 by
18 inches and was executed in 1929. It was once in the collection
of Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Fleischman of Detroit and has been very
widely exhibited and written about. It has a modest estimate of
$250,000 to $350,000. It sold for $656,000.
Lot 89 is a good genre scene by
entitled "Play Me a Tune." An oil on board laid down
on masonite, it measures 22 by 26 1/2 inches and was painted circa
1875-9. It has been consigned by the Museum of the City of New
York and has an estimate of $250,000 to $350,000. It sold for
The auction has two fabulous
and very strong
genre paintings. Lot 113, "Afternoon Tea," is a delightful
work by William Henry Lippincott (1849-1920). An oil on panel,
it measures 14 1/2 by 18 inches and was executed in 1885. It has
been consigned by the estate of Henry Luce III. It has a modest
estimate of $60,000 to $80,000. It sold for $264,000.
Lot 128 is an exquisite small
jewel by Henry
Siddons Mowbray (1858-1928). An oil on canvas, it measures 8 1/2
by 10 3/4 inches and was painted circa 1880-3. The lot was once
in the collection of Jo An and Julian Ganz Jr. of Los Angeles.
It has a modest estimate of $120,000 to $180,000. It sold for
The sale total was
$55,405,200, $8 million
over its high pre-sale estimate.