American Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture

On December 3, Sotheby’s New York will offer a selection of American paintings, drawings and sculpture from some of the most important artists in the field including Albert Bierstadt, Winslow Homer, Childe Hassam, Theodore Robinson, Frederic Remington, Norman Rockwell and Marsden Hartley to name a few. An exhibition will be held prior to the sale, from November 29 to December 2.

Peter Rathbone, Director of Sotheby’s American Paintings Department, commented “We are delighted to present collectors with a selection of top quality American art this December. The sale features some of the best examples of works by some of the most important artists in the field. The Bierstadt is indeed the finest example of the artist’s work to come on the market in many years. ”

“This season we are honored to have been entrusted by some of the most important private collectors and estates with some exceptional works of art,” noted Dara Mitchell, Director of Sotheby’s American Paintings Department. “Beginning with Albert Bierstadt’s Yosemite Valley from the Ganz’s collection, and continuing with two wonderful watercolors one by Childe Hassam and the other by Winslow Homer formerly in the Collection of Arthur Altschul, as well as two lovely works by Georgia O’Keeffe from the Estate of Virginia Straus Bersohn, great-niece of Alfred Stieglitz, the sale offers collectors unique buying opportunities.”

Chief among the works in the sale is Yosemite Valley, an 1866 oil on canvas by Albert Bierstadt. This work, estimated to sell for $4.5/6.0 million, comes from the Collection of Jo Ann and Julian Ganz, Jr. Their collection of American art was exhibited at the National Gallery of Art in Washington in a show titled An American Perspective: Nineteenth-Century Art from the Collection of Jo Ann and Julian Ganz, Jr. which ran from October of 1981 to September of 1982 and also traveled to the Amon Carter Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. In the preface to the catalog of this show, John Wilmerding said the exhibition “brings to public view the finest private collection in the country of nineteenth-century American Art.” The Bierstadt was included in that exhibition. Bierstadt was the first and perhaps the greatest American painter to fully capture the grandeur of the landscape of the American west. The golden serenity of an Edenic vision of wilderness depicted in Yosemite Valley reflects both Bierstadt’s ecstatic portrayal of the majestic scenery he encountered and his response to the nation’s desire for renewal and a return to peace in the aftermath of the Civil War.

Widely recognized as one of America’s foremost artists of the 19th century, Winslow Homer’s watercolors rank among the greatest achievements in American Art. Included in the sale is Homer’s luminous In the Garden. Estimated at $1.5/2.5 million, it was completed in 1874 when the artist was visiting Lawson Valentine in Walden, New York. The precise rendering of the young woman is beautifully contrasted by the loose, impressionistic brushstrokes of the landscape resulting in a delicate and richly textured surface that exemplifies Homer’s intrinsic affinity for the watercolor medium.

Also delightful is Childe Hassam’s Home of the Hummingbird. Toward the end of the 19th century, Hassam spent a lot of time with long-time friend and poet Celia Thaxter at her home on Appledore Isand off the New Hampshire-Maine coast. Captivated by her famous garden, carefully cultivated on the challenging and rocky terrain, Hassam painted a series of watercolors of which Home of the Hummingbird is one, to accompany Thaxter’s book An Island Garden that included horticultural tips as well as poetic and personal anecdotes about the life of her garden. The present work, dated 1893, has been requested for inclusion in the exhibition Childe Hassam at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, June 10-September 12, 2004. It is estimated to sell for $1/1.5 million.

Theodore Robinson’s paintings from the late 19th century reveal his indebtedness to the Impressionist works of Claude Monet, whom he met in 1887 during his stay in Giverny. Upon returning to the United States, Robinson sought distinctly American subjects, and Washing Day, exemplifies the artist’s masterful technique depicting his beloved cousin Agnes Cheney in a sun-filled meadow at her home in Vermont. Estimated at $700/900,000, this work was owned by John Cheney Robinson, the artist’s brother, and has remained in the Robinson family since 1895, the year it was painted. It will be included in the forthcoming catalogue rainonné of the artist’s work being compiled by Ira Spanierman and Sona Johnston.

Among the sculpture included in the sale is Frederic Remington’s bronze entitled The Mountain Man from 1904 (est. $500/700,000). During Remington’s lifetime, this work was one of his most highly acclaimed accomplishments. He captured in bronze the dynamic movement of a horse and rider descending a steep hill. As noted by author Michael D. Greenbaum, “It remains one of his most enduring sculptural works, a striking representational image of the frontier.”

During 1924, Georgia O’Keeffe began painting her first large-scale magnified flower pictures, with which the artist would be identified for much of her career. While intimate in scale (16 by 13 in.), Petunias in Oval, No. 2 (est. $300/400,000) clearly anticipates her enlarged floral imagery that was to follow shortly by engulfing the small surface with a powerful image of color and form. The work comes from the Estate of Virginia Straus Bersohn, a great-niece of Alfred Stieglitz.

Painted circa 1941-1943, Storm Down Pine Point Way, Old Orchard Beach by Marsden Hartley represents a time just before the artist’s death when he returned permanently to his home state of Maine seeking a ’quality of nativeness.’ This work, estimated to sell for $700/900,000, depicts Hartley’s favorite resort, but not its typical bustling state. Here, Hartley seems to have painted from memory, accomplishing a beautiful atmospheric quality where traces of humanity are only evident in an abstract manner along the horizon.

The subject of youth was one of Norman Rockwell’s favorite themes throughout his long tenure as the Saturday Evening Post’s chief cover artist. The Choirboy (est. $500/700,000), which graced the cover of the April 17, 1954 issue, recalls the artist’s days in the church choir. This painted version features a choirboy backstage in hurried preparation for an Easter service. The paneled archway frames our view of this behind-the-scenes moment in a young boy’s life.

Published in: on November 27, 2003 at 2:02 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

The URI to TrackBack this entry is:

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: