California & American Paintings & Sculpture at Bonhams & Butterfields

Western Themes and Works from the Society of Six Highlight Summer Auction

The Summer 2008 sale of California and American Painting and Sculpture at Bonhams & Butterfields is being assembled for August 5, 2008, highlighted by a desirable Maynard Dixon mountain scene. As California’s oldest and largest fine arts auctioneers, the house has established a reputation as a preeminent source for California and American works of art at auction.

maynard-dixon.jpgA stunning western landscape on offer by early 20th century artist Maynard Dixon is titled Mountains in Sunset Light (No. 368). Measuring 25×30-inches, the desolate scene is an example of Dixon’s progression from figurative works to pure landscape – the subject matter for which he is best known and respected. Estimated to bring $300,000 to $400,000, the fresh-to-market painting is expected to garner interest from California and Western collectors alike. Summer Clouds, New Mexico (No. 409) (est. $180/220,000), a compelling desert landscape by Dixon, will also be featured during the summer auction. The work demonstrates the influence of the artist’s journey to Taos, NM and displays a dynamic juxtaposition of clouds in relation to the earth on the open range. The 300-lot, two-session sale will feature a wide variety of important California, Western, Society of Six, Hawaiian scenes and Plein Air works by established American artists including Dixon, Charles Marion Russell, Selden Connor Gile, Edgar Payne, Frank Tenney Johnson, John Marshall Gamble, William Wendt, Oscar Edmund Berninghaus and David Howard Hitchcock, among many others.

“Interest in California & American paintings and sculpture continues to be robust,” said Scot Levitt, Vice President and Fine Arts Department Director. “The August sale is projected to be our strongest offering to date, boasting a large number of fresh, desirable works while featuring a strong section of Western paintings highlighted by Maynard Dixon and highly sought after works from the Society of Six.

The sale will feature a strong selection of works from the Society of Six, anchored by a brightly colored work titled Raccoon Straits, 1928 (est. $40/60,000), from the movement’s leader Selden Connor Gile. The serene painting is a beautiful example of the colorist style, depicting a lone sailboat in a body of pure brilliant blue water set against a brightly colored cove composed of bold earth-toned hues.

Charles Marion Russell’s Battle between Blackfeet and the Piegans, 1897, also highlights the upcoming sale. Russell’s highly desirable watercolor depicts a dynamic confrontation between two Native American tribes. Typical of his work, the active composition is full of bright, fresh, lively colors accentuating each aspect of the tour de force masterpiece. The work is expected to bring $250,000 to $350,000.

“Discovering a work of this caliber in private hands is exciting, as high-end works by Russell are typically hard to come by. Bonhams & Butterfields is extremely pleased to offer this wonderful work in August,” said Levitt.

Western themes, both traditional and modern, will be prominent throughout the summer auction. In addition to Russell’s masterwork, the sale features: a large 40×40-inch classic work titled Packing in the Sierras by Edgar Payne (est. $200/300,000); In the Forest of Pueblo Cañon by Oscar Edmund Berninghaus (est. $40/60,000) and two works by Frank Tenney Johnson — Cowboy on Horseback, 1917 (est. $150/250,000), and Indians on Horseback, 1929 (est. $40/60,000).

Following the firm’s continuing success with Hawaiian paintings, Bonhams & Butterfields features a selection of works from the Pacific Islands in August. David Howard Hitchcock’s Hanalei Valley, Kauai (est. $40/60,000) is featured in the grouping, signed and inscribed by the artist. The work is infused with the local colors, sensations and experiences native to the Hawaiian Islands.

“The artist spent a great deal of time traveling around Hawaii while documenting indigenous subject matter and tropical vistas native to the islands. Works rich in local color and highlighting regional subject matter such as Hanalei Valley, Kauai are perennially popular with collectors,” said Levitt.

Also featured within the Hawaiian section of the auction is Waimea Canyon, Kauai by Lloyd Sexton, Jr. (est. $15/20,000) and works by John William Hilton, Ambrose McCarthy Patterson, Shirley Marie Russell, Millard Sheets and Emil Jean Kosa, Jr., among others.

Additional highlights on offer during the August 5th sale include: a classic example of work from John Marshall Gamble, aptly titled California Wildflowers (est. $100/150,000); William Wendt’s Converging Fields (est. $150/200,000) painted in the artist’s characteristic Plein Air style; and two works by Armin Hansen — First Feel of Leather and Running Mates, both estimated to fetch $80,000 to $120,000.

Simulcast between salesrooms in Los Angeles and San Francisco, the August sale’s catalog will feature a series of what the department describes as “breath-taking views” — landscapes and seascapes, portraiture and genre scenes.

Preview events are scheduled in San Francisco for July 25-27 and August 1-3 in Los Angeles. The illustrated online catalog can be reviewed at www.bonhams.com/us in the weeks preceding the sale and previews.

Top