California & American Paintings and Sculpture Bring More than $4.1-Million in May at Bonhams & Butterfields

By the close of the May 1, 2007 auction, Bonhams & Butterfields clients – fans of the American landscape and an entourage of gallery owners and private collectors – had spent more than $4.1-million for California & American paintings and sculpture, offered and sold in San Francisco and Los Angeles by the world’s third-largest fine arts auctioneers.

“The sale was well received by the public,” said Scot Levitt, director of California & American Paintings and Sculpture sales for Bonhams & Butterfields. He continued: “We saw strong prices for established artists, competitive bidding for high-caliber and fresh-to-market works.”

The top lot was a western landscape by early 20th century artist Maynard Dixon titled Red Rocks and Cactus, 1945 (No.746). Measuring 16 x 20inches in size, the desolate landscape illustrates Dixon’s tendency to incorporate aspects of Post-Impressionism and Cubist-Realism into his work. A much noted painter and illustrator, Dixon is known and respected for his works. Estimated at $60,000 to $80,000, the fresh-to-market work brought $288,000. Lone Pine, an early oil on canvas on board painting by Dixon, estimated at $40,000-60,000, sold to the successful bidder for $108,000.

Bidding was strong for other high quality works as prices exceeded their estimates for a number of American masterworks including: Thomas Hill’s Deer Walking on a Wooded Path which sold for $132,000; A Glass Vase full of Roses by Franz Bischoff brought $252,000; Frank Weston Benson’s Canoeing doubled its high estimate to fetch $120,000 and The Bath, Giverny by Theodore Earl Butler sold for $84,000.

The auctioneer’s catalog cover lot, a colorful oil on canvas landscape entitled California Poppies by Granville Redmond, sold for $144,000, far surpassing the pre-sale estimate.

Two additional works by Redmond, Last Light at Low Tide (brought $102,000) and Sailing among Golden Bluffs (brought $114,000) rounded out the Redmond’s within the spring auction.

The next sale of California and American Painting and Sculpture will held at Bonhams & Butterfields in August 2007. The auction will feature a wide variety of important Western and Hawaiian scenes, Plein Air, Society of Six, and land and cityscapes by established American artists including John Marshall Gamble.

Known for his floral coastal and landscape paintings, Gamble is widely considered one of the leaders of the California Plein-air painting movement. Characteristic of his signature style is Wild Heliotrope near Laguna Beach, a colorful Southern California hillside bluff scene. Property from a private collector, the painting was acquired from the artist and had remained by descent within a family. The oil on board work is signed and inscribed by the artist and is expected to bring $100,000 to $150,000.

Gamble was born into a working-class family in Morristown, New Jersey in 1863. His father was employed by the Pacific Mail Steamship Company and the family immigrated to New Zealand during the artist’s teenage years. After a short period in Auckland, the 20-year-old Gamble moved back to the United States, settling in San Francisco. Beginning his career at the School of Design under the watchful guidance of Virgil Williams and Emil Carlsen, Gamble chose to further his education in Paris at Académie. Returning stateside in 1893, Gamble returned to San Francisco and opened a studio. When his studio and most of the city went up in flames in 1906, he relocated to Santa Barbara and remained there for the remainder of his life.

The illustrated auction catalog with additional August sale highlights will be online at in the weeks preceding the sale and previews.