Christie’s New York to Auction Fine American Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture

. February 20, 2010

Christie’s New York will offer its mid-season sale of Fine American Paintings, Drawings, and Sculpture, on March 4, featuring an excellent selection of 19th and 20th century works at prices ranging from $2,000 to $60,000. Highlights include rare and exceptional works by George Benjamin Luks, Charles Sheeler, Robert Vickrey, and Louis Comfort Tiffany, as well as an exciting rediscovery by the 19th century Western artist Jules Émile Saintin. All genres of American art are represented, including Impressionism, Modern, Ashcan School, Abstract and Western Art. The total sale is expected to achieve in excess of $2.5 million.

Charles Sheeler (1883-1965), “The Blue Roof”. Estimate: $60,000-80,000. Photo: Christie’s Images Ltd., 2010

Among the lead highlights of the sale is an exciting selection of paintings and watercolors by the legendary designer Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933) that have never before been offered at auction. These rare works were originally given as gifts to Tiffany’s trusted chauffeur James Ryan, who worked for the artist from 1911 until his death in 1933. Though Tiffany was best known for his brilliance in designing Art Nouveau glass, he also had considerable skill as a painter of landscapes, still lifes, and genre scenes. The paintings to be offered primarily depict the scenery around Tiffany’s beloved Laurelton Hall, his extraordinary 600- acre country estate, and Comfort Lodge, his Florida home. The group includes three paintings, Florida (estimate: $40,000-60,000), Fountain at Comfort Lodge (estimate: $10,000-15,000), and Tree and Leaves, Comfort Lodge (estimate: $10,000-15,000) as well as two watercolors, Dogwood Branch (estimate: $2,000-3,000) and Sycamores, Main Drive, Laurelton Hall (estimate: $3,000-5,000).

A lead highlight of the sale’s Western Art section is the newly re-discovered Pony Express, 1863 (estimate: $30,000-50,000), a dramatic chase scene of a mail carrier on horseback by the French-born artist Jules Émile Saintin (1829-1894). The painting had been purchased direct from the artist in the late 1800s by members of the Sibley family, who were involved in the organization and development of the Western Union Telegraph Company in the 1850’s and 60’s. Since that time, the work has descended within the Sibley family, and the upcoming sale marks its first public exhibition after over a century in the family’s private collection.

The sale’s cover lot is Parakeet, 1970 (estimate: $20,000-30,000), an exceptional painting by the contemporary artist Robert Remsen Vickrey (b. 1926), who has been described as one of the world’s “most proficient craftsman in egg tempera painting”. With Parakeet, Vickrey makes brilliant use of this rich medium to create a sunlight-flooded scene of a teenaged girl sitting barefoot on the floor with her pet parakeet, lost in reverie. A profilic artist, Vickrey’s work is represented in the collections of over 70 public institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Smithsonian Institution.

Additional highlights of the sale include works by several of the most accomplished artists of the Impressionist and Modern genres within American art. The Blue Roof (estimate: $60,000-80,000) is a classic example of the Precisionist style by Charles Sheeler (1883-1965). No larger than a postcard, the work is a harmonious distillation of line and form that mirrors the modern industrial landscape Sheeler claimed as his primary subject matter. Also featured in the sale is Afternoon in the Park (estimate: $40,000-60,000) by the Philadelphia artist Martha Walter (1875-1976), best known for her spontaneous, Impressionistic style and vivid color palette, as well as two exceptional portraits by the Ashcan School painter George Benjamin Luks (1867-1933), Portrait of a Girl in Black (estimate: $60,000-80,000) and Man with a Violin, painted circa 1910 (estimate: $50,000-70,000).

Among the sculpture highlights in the sale is Speed by Harriet Whitney Frishmuth (1880-1980), a stylized depiction of a winged god in mid-flight that was originally designed as a custom hood ornament for cars (estimate: $12,000-18,000). Western art bronzes include ‘On the Warpath’ (estimate: $10,000-15,000), a depiction of a Native American warrior on horseback by Cyrus Edwin Dallin (1861-1944), and ‘Peace’ (estimate: $20,000-30,000), a standing image of an Indian chief cast circa 1895 by Carl Kauba (1865-1922). Rounding out the group are two 1920s-era bronzes of racehorses by Herbert Haseltine (1877-1962), entitled Jockey on Horse (estimate: $20,000-30,000) and Thoroughbred Horse (estimate: $12,000-18,000).

Category: Auction News

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