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American Paintings, Drawings & Sculpture

Sotheby's

10 AM, May 23 2007

Sale 8322

"Mountain Lake" by Bierstadt

Lot 140, "Mountain Lake," by Albert Bierstadt, oil on canvas, 36 1/2 by 52 1/2 inches

By Carter B. Horsley

This American Paintings auction at Sotheby's May 23, 2007 offers a very fine selection of high-quality works in many different areas. It is highlighted by a wonderful landscape by Albert Bierstadt, a marvelous American Indian scene by Alfred Jacob Miller, a magnificent and uunusal and sensational Jasper Francis Cropsey, a superb Luminist work by Francis A. Silva, a powerful work by Oscar Bluemner, two good paintings by Martin J. Heade, and fine works by Alexander Wyant, William Holbrook Beard, Frederick Church, Everett Shinn, and Ralston Crawford.

The cover illustration of the catalogue is a detail from Lot 140, "Mountain Lake," by Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902). It is an oil on canvas that measures 36 1/2 by 52 1/2 and it has been consigned, inexplicably, by the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. It is a very, very good Bierstadt. While it has no American Indians or snow-capped mountains, it is about as splendiferous a Bierstadt as you can get, sensationally luminous and a great and dramatic composition that visually demonstrates the country's "manifest destiny" of unbridled natural beauty.

The catalogue entry remarks that "It is a scene infused with the sense of the ideal and a representation not only of the dawning of a new day but also the beginning of a new era of peace in post-Civil War America. Only a small group of deer, alert, delicate and small against this might sight are present to witness the phenomenon of the moment - a landscape of absolute purity, a new garden of Eden." Bierstadt would have painted this even if there had not been a Civil War, but niggling aside, it is definitely majestic and awe-inspiring in a pre-politically correct world.

It has a modest estimate of $2,000,000 to $3,000,000. It sold for $4,856,000 including the buyer's premium as do all results mentioned in this article. The sale was quite successful with about 37 percent of the 220 offered lots selling for $55,798,200.

"Indian Canoe" by Miller

Lot 181, "Indian Canoe," by Alfred Jacob Miller, oil on canvas, 13 1/2 by 20 inches, circa 1865

Alfred Jacob Miller (1810-1874) is the greatest of the early painters of the American West combining keen observation with a lovely romantic sketchiness and a very colorful palette while paying great respect to the customs and style of American Indians. Lot 181, "Indian Canoe," is a very dramatic view of Indians paddling on a river during a storm. One is struck by the size of the canoe, the wonderful silhouettes of the paddlers and the very choppy water. An oil on canvas, it measures 13 1/2 by 20 inches and was painted circa 1865 and is closely related to a smaller watercolor dated circa 1858-1860 in the collection of the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, the city Miller called home. The lot, which sold for $189,500 at Sotheby's March 17, 1994, has a very modest estimate of $250,000 to $350,000. It sold for $880,000.

"Asinboine Encampment" by Stanley

Lot 182, "Assinboine Encampment," by John Mix Stanley, oil on board, 8 by 10 1/4 inches

Lot 182, "Assinboine Encampment," is a fine small work by John Mix Stanley (1814-1872), another early painter of the West. An oil on board, it measures 8 by 10 1/4 inches. It has an estimate of $70,000 to $100,000. It sold for $78,000.

"Long Beach" by Cropsey

Lot 130, "Long Beach," by Jasper Francis Cropsey, oil on canvas, 11 by 21 3/4 inches, 1882

Jasper Francis Crospey (1823-1900) is famous as America's painter of autumn and probably painted more glowing sunsets than anyone. Lot 130 is quite unusual for his oeuvre as it is a beach scene and that catalogue notes that Cropsey probably visited Long Beach on the south shore of Long Island at the invitation of Frank Hopkinson Smith, a fine watercolorist who happened to be the president of the Long Beach Improvement Company.

Detail of "Long Beach" by Cropsey

Detail of Lot 130, "Long Beach," by Cropsey

The painting is remarkable not only for its subject matter but also for its technique as it rivals the finest Impressionist paintings by William Merritt Chase and Monet. John F. Kensett and Worthington Whittredge were Hudson River School painters who often painted beaches, the former in a luminous and usually almost abstract fashion, the latter with a subdued impressionism. This painting by Cropsey significantly alters our already admiring perception of Cropsey. The vertically banded tents conjure the billowing dresses of Eugene Boudin's beach strolling women, but, more importantly, unleash the imagination to conjure an endless vision of colorful abstractions. This lot is very conservatively estimately at $150,000 to $250,000 although many collectors of American Impressionist painters may overlook it, short-sightedly, because Cropsey is not normally considered an Impressionist. It sold for $408,000.

"Sailing on the Hudson, Nyack" by Silva

Lot 127, "Sailing on the Hudson, Nyack," by Francis A. Silva, oil on canvas, 15 by 30 inches, 1872

It is easy, of course, for connoisseurs to seek out the non-formulaic, atypical works, but one should not ignore the bread-and-butter masterworks of an artist and Lot 127, "Sailing on the Hudson, Nyack," is just such a work by Francis A. Silva (1835-1886). An oil on canvas that measures 15 by 30 inches, it was executed in 1872 and epitomizes capability of the best Luminist painters to occasionally knock your socks off with a quality of light in a brilliant composition.

The catalogue quotes Barbara Novak's book, "American Painting of the 19th Century," that the Luminist movement fostered "some of the nineteenth century's most profound thoughts on nature," offering the spectator "an irresistible invitation in terms of empathy" which "bought the nineteeth century as close as it could come to silence and void," adding that "Luminst light tends to be cool, not hot, hard not soft, palpable rather than fluid, planar rather than atmospherically diffuse. Luminist light radiates, gleams, and suffuses on a different frequency than atmospheric light....Air cannot circulate between the particles of matter that comprise luminist light."

Well, maybe....

"Sailing on the Hudson, Nyack" is hot, not cool and the slight ripples in the foreground and the pink clouds in the middle distance are not "voids." There is a sense of "stillness," the sense of capturing a wondrous and fleeting moment. This is the genius of the great 19th Century American landscape painters who witnessed so many spectacular sunsets unlike the generally dreary landscapes of Claude. They were able to capture in their memories visions that they might embellish somewhat in their nurturing of aesthetic perfection and which mere photography is incapable of in its exactitude.

This lot has an estimate of $1,000,000 to $1,500,000. It sold for $1,384,000.

"Sunset Over Newburyport Meadows" by Heade

Lot 147, "Sunset Over Newburyport Meadows," by Martin Johnson Heade, oil on canvas, 13 by 26 inches, 1904

Martin Johnson Heade (1819-1904) is sometimes included among the Luminists but his oeuvre is too hot and much too diverse. He is perhaps best known for his hummingbird-and-orchid extravaganzas, his studies of magnolias, his storm scenes, and his sunsets over the haystacks on the Newburyport meadows. Lot 147 is a good example of the latter category. An oil on canvas, it measures 13 by 26 inches and was painted in 1904. It has a modest estimate of $300,000 ot $500,000. It sold for $704,000.

"The Old Shipwreck" by Heade

Lot 131, "The Old Shipwreck," by Martin Johnson Heade, oil on canvas, 24 by 21 1/4 inches, 1865

Heade produced a couple of astounding works: a thunderstorm over Narragansett Bay and a man in sunlight beneath a black sky in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The catalogue quotes Theodore E. Stebbins Jr., the authority on Heade, that "Heade liked the odd transitory moment when all is not perfect with the world." "Whereas another artist would depict the shore at its best, and, if there were figures, would decorously dress and pose them, Heade evoked the smells of low tide, the grime of the seaweed and mud." Lot 131, "The Old Shipwreck," well illustrates Stebbins's point. An oil on canvas, it measures 24 by 21 1/4 inches and was painted in 1865. Shipwrecks were popular subjects with many 19th Century artists. It has an estimate of $400,000 to $600,000. It sold for $1,076,000.

"Hudson River View" by Wyant

Lot 153, "Hudson River View," by Alexander H. Wyant, oil on canvas, 23 by 32 inches, 1868

Alexander H. Wyant (1836-1892) was a member of the second generation of Hudson River School artists and like George Inness and Homer Dodge Martin he changed his style in mid-career from classic Hudson River School clarity and classic compositions to an impressionistic style. Lot 153, "Hudson River View," is a very fine example of his early style. An oil on canvas, it measures 23 by 32 inches and was painted in 1868. It is notable for the man's red shirt and the complimentary curves of the rocks and river and the fine sense of space near and far. It has a conservative estimate of $70,000 to $90,000. It sold for $84,000.

"Tropical Landscape" by Church

Lot 135, "Tropical Landscape," by Frederick Edwin Church, oil on canvas, 10 by 16 inches, circa 1882

Lot 135 is a very fine study for "Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta," an 1883 work by Frederick Edwin Church (1826-1900) that is in the collection of the Washington University Gallery of Art. This painting is an oil on canvas that measures 10 by 16 inches and was painted circa 1882. It has been consigned inexplicably by the Palm Springs Art Museum for the benefit of the acquisitions fund. It is a marvelous small work that is very representative of Church's fabulous talents and it is also reminiscent of some of the good works by Turner. It has a very conservative estimate of $80,000 to $120,000 since his major tropical works are not easy to come by. It sold for $480,000.

"Autumn landscape" by Mignot

Lot 121, "Autumn Landscape," by Louis Remy Mignot, oil on canvas, 30 by 21 1/4 inches, 1857

Louis Remy Mignot (1831-1870) was a fine, underrated landscape painter who traveled to South America and executed many landscapes somewhat in the style of Frederic Church. Lot 121, "Autumn Landscape," is a rather startlingly bold and intensely colorful composition. An oil on canvas, it measures 30 by 21 1/4 inches and was painted in 1857. It has a modest estimate of $40,000 to $60,000. It sold for $90,000.

"Rocks at Narragansett" by Haseltine

Lot 124, "Rocks at Narragansett," by William Stanley Haseltine, oil on canvas, 32 by 37 inches, 1863

Lot 124 is a fine and typical marine painting by William Stanley Haseltine (1855-1900). Entitled "Rocks at Narragansett," it is an oil on canvas that measures 21 by 37 inches and was painted in 1863. It has an estimate of $250,000 to $350,000. It sold for $600,000.

"Indian Idyl" by Beard

Lot 170, "Indian Idyl," by William Holbrook Beard, oil on canvas, 18 by 24 inches

William Holbrook Beard (1823-1900) is one of the more eccentric and interesting 19th Century American artists because he enjoyed the satirical use of animals to make a point in many of his works such as the bulls and bears of Wall Street and monkeys contemplating human skulls. He also painted landscapes and created some seemingly mythological works and also depicted American Indians as in Lot 170, "Indian Idyl," an oil on canvas that measures 18 by 24 inches and was painted in 1876. It is one of four paintings in the auction that came from the Alexander Gallery. It has a modest estimate of $30,000 ot $50,000. It sold for $33,000.

"The Disputed Way" by Beard

Lot 169, "The Disputed Way," by William Holbrook Beard, oil on canvas, 20 by 16 inches

Three of the four Beards in this auction were consigned by the Mark Hotel on the northwest corner of Madison Avenue and 77th Street where they adorned the lobby. This one has a modest estimate of $25,000 to $35,000. It failed to sell.

"The Fox Hunter's Dream" by Beard

Lot 161, "The Fox Hunter's Dream," by William Holbrook Beard, oil on canvas, 29 by 36 1/4 inches, 1859

Lot 161 is the largest of the Beards and all the animals in the painting are winged. Entitled "The Fox Hunter's Dream," it is an oil on canvas that measures 29 by36 1/4 inches and was painted in 1859. It has an estimate of $125,000 to $175,000. It failed to sell.

"The Four Seasons: Winter" by Beard

Lot 162, ""The Four Seasons: Winter," by William Holbrook Beard, oil on canvas, 16 by 24 inches

Lot 162 is entitled "The Four Seasons: Winter" and is an oil on canvas that measures 16 by 24 inches. It has an estimate of $50,000 to $70,000. It sold for $84,000.

"Scene in Venice" by Duveneck

Lot 149, "Scene in Venice," by Frank Duveneck, oil on canvas laid down on board, 19 by 27 inches, 1919

Frank Duveneck (1848-1919) was a very influential American painter who lived in Europe for many years. Lot 149, "Scene in Venice," is a fine and very painterly work by him that is an oil on canvas laid down on board that measures 19 by 27 inches. It was painted in 1919. It has a conservative estimate of $30,000 to $50,000. It sold for $51,000.

"Window shopping" by Shinn

Lot 63, "Window Shopping," Everett Shinn, pastel on paper, 10 3/4 by 13 inches, 1903

Lot 63 is an excellent pastel on paper by Everett Shinn (1876-1953) entitled "Window Shopping." It measures 10 3/4 by 13 inches and is dated 1903. It was once in the collection of Muriel McCormick Hubbard (granddaughter of John D. Rockefeller and Cyrus McCormick). It has a conservative estimate of $100,000 to $150,000. It sold for $240,000.

"A House in the Night" by Bluemner

Lot 43, "A House in the Night," by Oscar Bluemner, oil on panel, 10 by 8 inches, 1929

Lot 43 is a small but great oil on panel by Oscar Bluemner (1867-1938). Entitled "A House in the Night," it measures only 10 by 8 inches and is dated 1929. It is one of the artist's finest works. It has a modest estimate of $150,000 to $200,000. It sold for $192,000.

"At the Dock #2" by Crawford

Lot 44, "At the Dock #2," by Ralston Crawford, oil on canvas, 26 by 40 inches, 1941

Lot 44, "At the Dock #2," is a great painting by Ralston Crawford (1906-1978). An oil on canvas, it measures 26 by 40 inches and is dated 1941. It has a modest estimate of $150,000 to $250,000. It sold for $480,000.

"Air Balloon Triptych" by Gaspard

Lot 213, "Air Balloon Triptych," by Leon Gaspard, oil on board, center panel, 10 1/2 inches square, left and right panels 10 1/2 by 7 1/2 inches, 1909

Lot 214 is a wonderful triptych by Leon Gaspard (1882-1964), a very fine and very underrated painter with an intensely colorful palette. Entitled "Air Balloon Triptych," it is dated "Paris 1909" and is a very delightful work. It has a modest estimate of $40,000 to $60,000. It sold for $72,000.

"Street in Barbizon, Sunset" by Robinson

Lot 97, "Street in Barbizon, Sunset," by Theodore Robinson, oil on canvas, 16 by 12 3/4 inches, 1887

Lot 97 is a fine, subtle and muted streetscape by Theodore Robinson (1852-1896). Entitled "Street in Barbizon, Sunset," it is an oil on canvas that measures 16 by 12 3/4 inches. It was painted in 1887. It is a fine composition that hints at Robinson's occasional and excellent flurries into abstraction and has a modest estimate of $40,000 to $60,000. It sold for $48,000.

"On the Suffolk Coast" by Metcalf

Lot 98, "On The Suffolk Coast," by Willard L. Metcalf, oil on canvas, 10 1/2 by 16 inches, 1885

Willard L. Metcalf (1858-1925) is a good American Impressionist and Lot 98 is one of his finest landscapes. Entitled "On the Suffolk Coast," it is an oil on canvas that measures 10 1/2 by 16 inches. It is dated 1885. It has an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000. It sold for $120,000.

"Bal Bullier, Latin Quarter" by Prendergast

Lot 75, "Bal Bullier, Latin Quarter," by Maurice Prendergast, watercolor and pencil on paper, 15 3/4 by 7 1/2 inches, 1894

Lot 75 is a great watercolor and pencil on paper by Maurice Prendergast (1858-1924). Entitled "Bal Bullier, Latin Quarter," it measures 15 3/4 by 7 1/2 inches. It was painted in 1894. It has an estimate of $400,000 to $600,000. It sold for $908,000.

"Henry Dyer, Cape Elizabeth, Maine" by Luks

Lot 99, "Henry Dyer, Cape Elizabeth, Maine," by George Luks, oil on canvas, unframed, 16 by 20 inches, 1922

Lot 99 is a nice work by George Luks (1867-1933) that is entitled "Henry Dyer, Cape Elizabeth, Maine." An oil on canvas, it measures 16 by 20 inches and is dated 1922. It has an estimate of $40,000 to $60,000. It sold for $90,000.

 

See The City Review article on the Spring 2007 American Paintings auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2006 American Paintings auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2006 American Paintings auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2006 American Paintings auction at Sotheby's

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

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

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

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

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


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