Art/Auctions logo

American Paintings

Christie's

10 A.M., May 22, 2009

Sale 2171

"View in Kaaterskill Clove" by Cole

Lot 84, "View in Kaaterskill Clove," by Thomas Cole, oil on canvas, 18 by 24 3/4 inches, 1826

By Carter B. Horsley

This auction of American Paintings at Christie's May 22, 2009 is highlighted by a superb early landscape by Thomas Cole, a lovely small landscape by Sanford Robinson Gifford, a charming small painting by John F. Kensett, a very fine painting by John George Brown, and good works by Winslow Homer, Francis A. Silva, Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Worthington Whittredge, Ben Shahn, George L. K. Morris, Charles Burchfield, Eric Pape, Richard Miller, and Louis Ritman.

Lot 84 is "View in Kaaterskill Clove," a very dramatic and lovely oil on panel by Thomas Cole (1801-1848), the founder of the Hudson River School of Painting. Painted in 1826, it is a classic Cole composition. It measures 18 by 24 3/4 inches. Although he is second only to Winslow Homer in importance in American painting, oddly the market has consistently undervalued him and the painting has an estimate of only $800,000 to $1,200,000. It sold for $1,022,500, including the buyer's premium as do all results mentioned in this article. Of the 141 offered lots, 62 percent sold for $16,820,400.

The catalogue entry provides the following commentary:

"Considered the father of American landscape painting, Thomas Cole was born in Lancashire, England in 1801 and immigrated to the United States at the age of eighteen. Leaving Philadelphia, where his family resided, for New York in 1825, the young artist captured the immediate attention of the New York art world following his first sketching trip up the Hudson River that summer. In the ensuing years, Cole's remarkable depictions of the American wilderness would launch America's first native art movement, the Hudson River School, a tradition of landscape painting that would dominate the first part of the nineteenth century. The works of these artists encouraged tourists to visit the wilderness, and helped Americans formulate a nationalistic interest in the grandeur and scenic beauty of nature found in their own country's terrain.

"Successful early sales of Cole's paintings following that first 1825 expedition, as well as quickly rising prices and demand for his works, enabled the artist to embark on another extended trip to the Catskills the following summer. Cole stayed for the early part of the season in Lake George and spent the remainder in the village of Catskill, where the present work was conceptualized. On his excursions, Cole roamed the wilderness sketching, making notes, and contemplating the natural beauty that he found, later realizing his masterful compositions in oil.

"Kaaterskill Clove, formed by the course of the Kaaterskill Creek as it descends through a series of magnificent waterfalls, became one of the most popular subjects for the Hudson River School, and is often considered the birthplace of the movement. A trip to the falls was a pilgrimage nearly every Hudson River School painter was compelled to make. Thomas Cole was the first of these artists to paint Kaaterskill Falls, and would move to the village of Catskill in 1827, maintaining a studio within view of its mountain peaks.

"Painted in 1826, View in Kaaterskill Clove is an important work from this early period in Cole's career, and exemplifies both the wonder and drama with which the American wilderness was encountered by the artist as well as by explorers of the time. As stated by Matthew Baigell, 'Cole's works are unique in American art because for the first time the viewer appears to be catapulted directly into the American wilderness. Never before had an American artist captured so completely the look and feel of raw nature as well as the apparent total indifference of nature to man's presence or intentions." (Thomas Cole, New York, 1981, p. 11) Indeed, in the present work one may witness both the beauty and sublimity that Cole found in the American landscape. In his composition, the dark tonalities of the shadowed foreground contrast sharply with a backdrop theatrically bathed in hopeful sunlight, illuminating the fiery autumnal foliage and purple clouds that sweep across the mountain peaks. The textured surface of this work, created through careful application of dabs of pigment with the tip of the brush, further recreates the visceral sensory experience of viewing a pleasing landscape, interpreted through the filter of the artist's imagination.

"By the 1820s in the United States, aesthetic notions of the Beautiful, the Sublime, and the Picturesque prevailed in artistic theory. These qualities, all thought to be supremely found in nature, were to be ideally applied to the landscape by artists of the time. The tensions between picturesque natural beauty and its counterpart - the anxious unknown implicit in a wild, unconquered terrain - were played out visually in landscapes such as the present work by Cole through such formal compositional devices as sweeping, crossed diagonals and dramatically heightened contrasts between sunlight and shadow. In addition, the details that Cole painted, 'scruffy underbrush, broken tree stumps (symbolic of life cycles in nature), jagged mountain profiles, and unkempt mountainsides in great detail,' all served to signal to contemporary viewers both the hand of God in nature, as well as the untamed and menacing aspects of the wild. (Thomas Cole, p. 11)

"Dr. Baigell outlines the striking compositional strategy seen in the present work, as well as throughout Cole's career of imposing two long, broken diagonal lines forming a large 'X' across the picture plane: 'This structural device adds emotional wallop, especially in the early works, because it invariably overwhelms the few foreground horizontals...These do not have the visual strength to suggest repose or an easy and casual entry into the picture space...In addition, Cole arbitrarily varied sunlit and shaded areas, thus providing hillsides and steep inclines with extreme topographical variation as well as suggestions of mystery and even terror.' (Thomas Cole, p. 13) In View in Kaaterskill Clove, this compositional format is masterfully applied through the formation of the dark craggy slope that drops diagonally from the upper left corner of the picture plane to the lower right, crossing transversely with the misting clouds at the top of the peaks that draw the viewer's eye downward toward the gnarled tree at the embankment of the creek, the focal point of the composition.

"As noted by Cole scholar Ellwood C. Parry III, View in Kaaterskill Clove was one of an initial pair of paintings created by Cole for the same patron, Henry Ward. The companion to the present work, titled View on Lake George, is of a similar size and was sold to Ward for the same price as the present work. Another strikingly similar composition titled Stony Gap, Kaaterskill Clove is owned by the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, Nebraska. Dr. Parry posits that the present work is likely the initial version, and the work at the Joslyn Art Museum may have been a replica by the artist. According to Dr. Parry, it was not unheard of for Cole to repeat certain compositions at this point in his career."

Eric Wilding, the head of American Paintings at Christie's, said after the auction that it "demonstrated that American collectors remain hungry for high-quality works by the country's most venerated artists," adding that "many of the sale's top lots sold above their high estimte and attracted competitive bids from the crowded saleroom, and from phone and online bidders." "We are particularly pleased with the strong prices achieved for works consigned by the Montclair Art Museum and Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden," he said.

"Lake Sunapee, New Hampshire" by Gifford

Lot 83, "Lake Sunapee, New Hampshire: a Study," by Sanford Robinson Gifford, oil on canvas, 6 by 11 inches, circa 1860-1

Sanford Robinson Gifford (1823-1880) was one of the major artists of the Hudson River School and Lot 83, "Lake Sunapee, New Hampshire: a Study," is a very fine example of his style. While most of the "school's" artists worked in a variety of sizes, Gifford probably more than any of the others, excelled in the small "cabinet" sizes that were highly finished and were not always studies for larger works. This oil on canvas measures 6 by 11 inches and was painted circa 1860-1. It has a modest estimate of $100,000 to $150,000. It sold for $266,500.

"Oregon Trail" by Bierstadt

Lot 31, "Oregon Trail," by Albert Bierstadt, oil on canvas tackedover board, 29 3/4 by 44 inches

The auction has a large, Western night scene by Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902) entitled "Oregon Trail." Lot 31, it is an oil on canvas tacked over board that measures 29 3/4 by 44 inches. It has an ambitious estimate of $2,000,000 to $3,000,000. It sold for $1,762,500.

The catalogue provides the following commentary:

"Albert Bierstadt's paintings depicting the grandeur of the American West are some of the most significant historical and artistic accomplishments of the nineteenth century. Other artists had made expeditions throughout the West as early as the 1830s, but Bierstadt was unrivaled in his ability to convey an image of this wondrous region to the American public. Painted from sketches of his trips in the late 1850s, Oregon Trail depicts an evening camp scene that demonstrates Bierstadt's exquisite attention to detail in rendering a complete narrative of the western landscape as an evolving American Eden.

"As early as 1859 Bierstadt visited the famously rugged American West with Colonel Frederick Lander's U.S. Government Expedition. Traveling along the Platte River to the Wind River Mountains, the artist first witnessed the splendor and beauty of the unspoiled frontier. On May 5, 1859, Lander led his expedition to complete a wagon road between South Pass, Wyoming and Fort Hall, Idaho and to visually document the work being completed he commissioned Bierstadt and other artists to join the excursion. After forty-five days, the group arrived at South Pass, the entrance to the majestic Wind River mountain range and the start of Lander's Road and on July 4th crossed the Green River and into the valley of the Wasatch Mountains. In Oregon Trail Bierstadt has taken close studies executed during his travels to create a masterful studio work of the most compelling composition and dynamic narrative. Oregon Trail closely relates to other examples in the artist's oeuvre that combine to create a small but crucial body of multi-figural works that expand on the artist's theme of Manifest Destiny that he re-visited throughout his career, including Campfire (1863, Mead Art Museum, Amherst Massachusetts), Mountainous Landscape by Moonlight, (1871, The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.) and The Oregon Trail (1869, The Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio).

"Collectors, critics and the public at large found immediate appeal in Bierstadt's expansive compositions of the American West such as Oregon Trail. These impressive works provided for Easterners a view of the West that was undergoing rapid exploration and that was the topic of considerable interest. This audience was stunned by the landscape's magnificence and they delighted in the artist's interpretation of these intimate narratives set against panoramic views. Elements seen in Oregon Trail, such as the details in the lively camp scene and the dramatic and masterful use of light, provided further details which Bierstadt's Eastern audience came to enjoy and to expect in major compositions by the painter. A capable promoter of his own work, notes Linda Ferber, 'Bierstadt effectively appropriated the American West, tapping public curiosity and excitement about these emote national territories. This interest was fueled, even during the apprehensive years of the Civil War, by the powerful idea of Manifest Destiny. The prevalent belief that Americans were divinely ordained masters of the continent lent special significance to Bierstadt's choice of subjects.'....

"Bierstadt's synthesis of the broadly monumental and the finely detailed, of grand scale and the intimate moment and infinitely varying forms, places his work among the most successful expressions of the many paradoxes of nature. This expression, through Bierstadt's attention to detail and evocation of light, harmoniously brings together the spiritual and natural world. Like no artist before him, Bierstadt established himself as the pre-eminent painter with both the technique and the talent to convey the powerful visual impact of the Western landscape, to capture the mammoth scale of the open spaces and to begin to interpret this new American landscape in a manner equal to its majesty and grandeur."

Bierstadt is an uneven artist capable of sheer, awesome magnificence such as in his huge "Rocky Mountains" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and in his many works of dazzling Western sunsets in such locales as Yosemite. He was, however, not only in capturing such splendor and inspiring the nation as Thomas Moran was equally adept and influential. Bierstadt did not do many night scenes but they pale beside the grandeur of his fabulous sunset paintings.

"Brook in Woods" by Bierstadt

Lot 74, "Brook in Woods," by Albert Bierstadt, oil on paper laid down on masonite, 20 by 29 3/4 inches

Many of Bierstadt's paintings were oil on paper of approximately 20 by 30 inches. Lot 74 is such a work and it is entitled "Brook in Woods." It is a good, dynamic composition and has a fine sense of light. It has an most estimate of $80,000 to $120,000. It sold for $122,500. It is property of the Montclair Art Museum, which has consigned several works to this auction, and is being sold to benefit its acquisition endowment fund.

"Tiverton, Rhode Island" by Whittredge

Lot 82, "Tiverton, Rhode Island," by Thomas Worthington Whittredge, oil on canvas, 6 3/4 by 15 1/2 inches, circa 1866

Thomas Worthington Whittredge (1820-1910) is known primarily for two types of paintings: dense forest scenes and horizontal Western landscapes but he also did a couple of wonderfully Impressionistic beach scenes. Lot 82 is a horizontal landscape entitled "Tiverton, Rhode Island." It is an oil on canvas that measures only 6 3/4 by 15 1/2 inches and was executed circa 1866. "Worthington Whittredge's masterfully refined and exquisite renditions of nineteenth-century American landscapes," the catalogue entry maintains, "are exceptionally articulate visions of nature. These compositions, complemented by the artist's masterful use of light to convey emotion and romanticism, are among the best conceived of the nineteenth century." This restrained and subtle composition has a very modest estimate of $20,000 to $30,000. It sold for $50,000.

"The Glen" by Whittredge

Lot 132, "The Glen," by Thomas Worthington Whittredge, oil on canvas, 24 by 20 inches, 1862

A more typical Whittredge is Lot 132, "The Glen," an oil on canvas that measures 24 by 20 inches. Executed in 1862, it has a very modest estimate of $60,000 to $80,000. It sold for $108,100. It was once in the collection of Douglas Collins of North Falmouth, Mass., and then Hirschl & Adler Galleries and Thomas Colville Fine Art of New Haven, Conn. It is mentioned in Tuckerman's famous and very important 1867 book, "Book of Artists," and also in the 1949 book on the M. and M. Karolik Collection of American Paintings. The catalogue notes that it was possibly exhibited at the National Academy of Design in 1862 and that it was on loan to the Museum of Fine Arts in Springfield, Massachusetts from 1970-1976.

"Fishing, Fort Lee, New Jersey" by John George Brown

Lot 129, "Fishing, Fort Lee, New Jersey," by John George Brown, oil on canvas, 17 by 22 1/2 inches, circa 1870

One of the most charming and lovely works in the auction is Lot 129, "Fishing, Fort Lee, New Jersey, by John George Brown (1831-1913), an artist best known for his paintings of shoe-shine boys and newspaper boys. This oil on canvas, which measures 17 by 22 1/2 inches and was painted circa 1870, shows two young girls fishing in a quite complex composition. Brown usually makes his figures larger and more dominant in his compositions, whereas here, reflecting their age, they are almost miniscule and yet this is still very much a fine genre picture as opposed to a pure landscape painting. It has an estimate of $30,000 to $50,000. It sold for $30,000. It was included in the exhibition and catalogue on the artist in 1989 at the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum in Springfield, Massachusetts.

"Two Men Rowing on a Lake" by Homer

Lot 75, Two Men Rowing on a Lake," by Winslow Homer, watercolor on paper, 15 by 21 1/2 inches, 1892

Winslow Homer (1836-1910) is far and away the greatest American artist of all time and some observers might say that his watercolors are better than his paintings. Lot 75, "Two Men Rowing on a Lake," is a large watercolor that measures 15 by 21 1/2 inches and is dated 1892 and signed in the upper right corner, which is a bit unusual for the artist. It is also a dark and somber work which is also a bit unusual. Unlike most artists who stuck to one "signature," Homer had about a dozen different signatures and his style and subject matter varied widely as well. This is a very, very strong and powerful work and the two men are almost lost in the overall abstraction. It has a conservative estimate of $200,000 to $300,000 as the market still undervalues Homer. It sold for $386,500. This lot is being sold, inexplicably, by the Montclair Art Museum even though it was included in the 1959 exhibition on the artist at the Adirondack Museum and is illustrated in Gordon Hendrick's 1979 book, "The Life and Work of Winslow Homer.

"Trees in Winter" by Burchfield

Lot 5, "Trees in Winter," by Charles Ephraim Burchfield, watercolor, gouache and pencil on paper, 14 by 20 inches, 1916

Lot 5 is a very fine watercolor on paper by Charles Ephraim Burchfield (1893-1967). Dated 1916, the watercolor, gouache and pencil on paper measures 14 by 20 inches. It has a modest estimate of $40,000 to $60,000. It sold for $74,500. It is illustrated in J. I. H. Baur's 1982 book, "The Inlander: Life and Work of Charles Burchfield, 1893-1967. The work is notable for fabulous rhythm, ghost-like quality and spartan sensibility.

"Early Morningm, Annisquam, Massachusetts" by Pape

Lot 60, "Early Morning, Annisquam, Massachusetts," by Eric Pape, oil on canvas,46 by 30 1/2 inches, 1900

Lot 60 is a large oil on canvas entitled "Early Morning, Annisquam, Massachusetts," by Eric Pape (1870-1938). It measures 46 by 30 1/2 inches and is dated 1900. It has an estimate of $70,000 to $100,000. It was exhibited at the Spanierman Gallery in New York in 2005. It sold for $62,500.

The catalaogue provides the following commentary about the artist:

"Born in San Francisco, California, Eric Pape began his art education at the San Francisco School of Design before studying at the École De Beaux Arts in Paris with Jules Joseph Lefebvre and Jean-Léon Gérôme. Pape first exhibited at the Salon in 1890, and then spent two years traveling extensively in Egypt, where he was likely inspired to create Egyptian-themed frames for his paintings. Pape returned to America in 1894 and for the next four years was a regular illustrator at several magazines including The Century, Cosmopolitan, Scribner's and McClure's. By 1898 Pape settled in Boston, Massachusetts and founded the Eric Pape School of Art, at which he served for years as both Director and Head Instructor. Pape painted a group of Impressionist works in and around Massachusetts, of which Early Morning, Annisquam, Massachusetts is a striking example. The work demonstrates Pape's experience as both an illustrator and an Impressionist to create landscapes that combine dazzling color and graphic composition."

"Café de Nuit" by Miller

Lot 64, "Café de Nuit," by Richard Edward Miller, oil on canvas, 35 1/4 by 46 inches

Lot 64 is a large work by Richard Edward Miller (1875-1943), an artist whose finest works seem to have been painted with precious jewels. Entitled "Café de Nuit," it is an oil on canvas that measures 35 1/4 by 46 inches and has a somewhat ambitious estimate of $700,000 to $1,000,000 because the women's dress cannot compare with her hat. It failed to sell.

The catalogue entry for this lot provides the following commentary:

"When Richard Miller was living in Paris at the turn of the century, he painted a series of works that portrayed the city's nightlife. Café de Nuit is part of this series in which Miller developed and expanded on a theme that had been introduced by the Impressionists a generation earlier. Unlike the French painters who used cafés of Paris 'to portray the reality of modern urban life....Miller's interest was not in capturing the reality of café-life; he was drawn instead to its decorative veneer - women in their fancy clothes; flower stalls; rosy, polished marble tables and shining glassware" (M.L. Kane, A Bright Oasis: The Paintings of Richard E. Miller, New York, 1997, p. 23) The demeanor of Miller's later work, in which he created restrained yet dynamic paintings of women, is evident in this early work. Although Miller fills the Parisian café with men, it is the attractive, well-dressed young woman who is gazing at the viewer. Mary Louise Kane has noted that "Miller, even more than his older contemporary Jean Béraud (1849-1936), painter of fashionable Parisian street life, confected a feast for the eye. His were not objective slice-of-life vignettes but artful decorations of contemporary life, each wrapped in its own color scheme." (A Bright Oasis: The Paintings of Richard E. Miller, p. 23)

"Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, Miller started his formal art training at the St. Louis School of Fine Arts in 1891, however in the spring of 1899, Miller traveled to Paris to study at the Académie Julian. The extraordinary first-hand exposure to French art had a profound effect on the artist's approach and he soon adopted their style and subject matter. Café de Nuit, is an exemplary work displaying the influence of the French teachers and painters from whom he studied and observed, as it is reminiscent of the café scenes by French artists at the time, in particular, Édouard Manet. Towards the end of the century, cafés were the center of cultural and social life in Paris. "Alfred Delvau observed in 1862 that 'la vie de café' was 'the chosen course of all the world, in Paris, for great and for small, for rich and for poor, for artists and for artisans.'" (K. Adler, Manet, Oxford, England, 1986, p. 200)

"In Café de Nuit, Miller depicts a café crowded with patrons and although the room is full, the figures at the table in the foreground do not appear to be emotionally connected. The dark-suited man looks solemnly down at his glass while the woman, who is ornamented in a glittering necklace and large, plumed hat, looks out at the viewer with an ambiguous smile. The placement and poses of the figures underscore the lack of social interaction. This poignant theme can be seen earlier in Manet's Café-Concert (1878, The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, Maryland). In the painting, a top-hatted gentleman and a young woman are seated in close proximity, however the woman is lost in her own thoughts while the man looks away in the opposite direction. "As in so many of Manet's paintings the interrelationships between the painted figures and the spectator are complex and ambiguous, and closer examination reveals curious anomalies. Manet did not seek to establish a clear narrative in his paintingsand the impossibility of decoding the depicted events is an essential element in the painting. The spectator is presented with a puzzle, to which he or she is closely linked through the placing of the figures, extremely near to the edge of the picture surface. As spectators we are trespassing on an intimate scene, yet we are not permitted to know its meaning - if indeed, it has any meaning in a narrative sense." (Manet, p. 213) This description of Manet's works can also be said of Café de Nuit.

"Miller is most often associated with the Giverny Group, a cluster of ambitious painters living in France in the early twentieth century, whose works are characterized by their bright hues and thick, broad brushstrokes. Miller's work, however, is quite distinct from that of his contemporaries. Critics and historians have noted Miller's unique palette for 'being 'in a rather lower tone of color,' for which he was no doubt deemed 'the Whistler of the quartet' - it prompted [Guy] Pène du Bois to say of it, 'soft and yet brilliant, delicate and yet with a semblance of radicalism a lesson in compromise - a delightful lesson.' The 'compromise' referred to is obviously Miller's mixing academic and impressionist painting modes. Miller blends them harmoniously in the creation of a decorative, dreamlike atmosphere. He covered the canvas with small dabs, broad strokes, scraped patches, dry swags and floating flecks of color, many independent of literal description." (A Bright Oasis: The Paintings of Richard E. Miller, p. 33) His mature style is seen emerging in the palette of the early Café de Nuit. Consisting primarily of a limited range of blacks, grays and browns, however Miller enlivens the muted tones with strokes of brilliant red and blue.

"Café de Nuit is a masterful and complex example of Miller's early painting that presents an enigmatic moment. The work superbly captures the particular situations that cafés presented as strangers from differing backgrounds were often forced into close immediacy, a theme often rendered by the French artists of the time."

Some of the artist's later works are more splendidly pyrotechnical in their coloration.

"Girl in a Boat" by Ritman

Lot 63, "Girl in a Boat," by Louis Ritman, oil on canvas, 25 1/2 by 32 inches, circa 1916-1919

Lot 63 is a fine painting by Louis Ritman (1889-1963) entitled "Girl in a Boat." An oil on canvas that measures 25 1/2 by 32 inches, it was painted circa 1916-1919 and has an estimate of $200,000 to $300,000. It sold for $242,500. The painting's brightness almost requires sunglasses. The work was included in an exhibition on the artist at the Macbeth Gallery in New York in 1919 and in an exhibition on the artist the following year at the Art Institute of Chicago.

"Cloud Shadows" by Bellows

Lot 38, "Cloud Shadows," by George Wesley Bellows, oil on panel, 15 by 19 1/2 inches

Lot 38 is an excellent small painting by George Wesley Bellows (1882-1925) that well demonstrates his marvelous painterliness. Entitled "Cloud Shadows," it is an oil on panel that measures 15 by 19 1/2 inches. It has an estimate of $600,000 to $800,000. It sold for $962,500.

The catalogue provides the following commentary:

"George Bellows made his first visit to the island of Monhegan, Maine during the summer of 1911 with fellow artists, Robert Henri and Randall Davey. Though only three miles long and one-half mile wide, the island contained some of the most spectacular scenery to be found anywhere along the Maine Coast. Bellows was so inspired by Monhegan's crashing waves, craggy shorelines and local residents that he returned two summers later with his wife and two-year-old daughter for an extended four month stay.

"On his first trip to Monhegan, the artist had painted mostly small sketches, measuring eleven by fifteen inches. Henri had encouraged the use of small panels so that the artists could explore the island and paint with relative ease. When he returned in 1913, Bellows chose to work on a larger format of fifteen by nineteen and one-half inches. The new size still allowed him to carry his easel around the island, while permitting grander compositions.

"The paintings from this visit, including Cloud Shadows, retain the artist's distinctive and sensual handling of paint augmented by a relatively new use of strong primary hues. Without question the seminal February 1913 Armory Show in New York that introduced Expressionism and Fauvism to the New York artist's society had its impact on Bellows, as well. In Cloud Shadows Bellows applies thick and generous strokes of paint with a palette knife, creating a three dimensional surface effect that dramatizes the scene portrayed. The architecture and figures along the shore are depicted using quick, confident strokes of primary reds, yellows, blues and whites. The rolling hills are pure yellows and greens, and the sky, water and rocks create an organic jumble of blues and blacks. There is a genuine immediacy of emotion so eloquently transcribed that it vividly captures that summer day nearly a century ago.

"Bellows wrote of his body of work from the summer of 1913: 'I painted a great many pictures and arrived at a pure kind of color which I never hit before. And which seems to me cleaner and purer than most of the contemporary effort in that direction.' (M. Quick, "Technique and Theory: The Evolution of George Bellows's Painting Style," George Bellows, Fort Worth, Texas, 1992, p. 43) Bellows also wrote to Robert Henri: 'I have been working with the colors and not much hue (more neutral color) and find a lot of new discoveries for me in the process.' (George Bellows, p. 44) Bellows was in fact so pleased with this group of paintings of Monhegan that he organized an exhibit of many of them in January 1914 at New York's Montross Gallery. Critics of the show compared them to seascapes of Homer: 'Following in Winslow Homer's footsteps, Bellows, like Rockwell Kent, has translated with crude colors, oftentimes, but...with remarkable strength and sympathy, the scenery, the sea and the humans of the stern and rockbound Maine Coast.' ('George Bellows at Montross,' American Art News 12, January 24, 1914) The intimacy of Cloud Shadows, underscored by the direct application of paint that creates a thick impasto on the surface and the overall visually engaging quality of the scene, are hallmarks of some of the artist's strongest works during this period."

"Ohio Skyline" by Shahn

Lot 118, "Ohio Skyline," by Ben Shahn, tempera on paperboard, 10 by 25 1/2 inches, 1945

Ben Shahn (1898-1969) is one of the finest American artists of the 20th Century and "Ohio Skyline," Lot 118, is an unusual strong composition for an artist better known for his strong lines and even stronger subject matter. A termpera on paperboard, it measures 10 by 25 1/2 inches and was executed in 1945. It has a modest estimate of $25,000 to $35,000. It sold for $42,500. It was included in the 1947 exhibition on the artist at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and at the United States Capitol's "Homage to Ben Shahn" in 1978. It was illustrated in the October 4, 1954 issue of Life magazine and was the cover illustration of F. K. Pohl's 1993 book "Ben Shahn: With Ben Shahn's Writings." It is property of the Montclair Art Museum.

"Labyrinth" by Morris

Lot 118, "Labyrinth, " by George Lovett Kingsland Morris, oil on canvas, 49 1/4 by 36 inches, 1957

Lot 118 is a very large and bold oil on canvas by George Lovett Kingsland Morris (1905-1975), one of the nation's most important Modernists in the middle of the 20th Century. Entitled "Labyrinth," it is an oil on canvas that measures 49 1/4 by 36 inches and was executed in 1957. It is property of the Montclair Art Museum. It has a conservative estimate of $50,000 to $70,000. It sold for $104,500.

Milton Avery's 1944 "Sketching by the Sea," Lot 10, was the top lot of the sale, selling for $2,210,500.

 

See The City Review article on the Spring 2009 American Paintings auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2008 American Paintings auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2008 American Paintings auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2008 American Paintings auction at Christie's

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

See The City Review article on the Fall 2007 American Paintings auction at Sotheby's

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

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

Use the Search Box below to quickly look up articles at this site on specific artists, architects, authors, buildings and other subjects

 

Home Page of The City Review