Gene Shapiro Russian and American Art Auction

Gene Shapiro Auctions LLC. has announced an Auction of Important Russian and American art to be held in New York on November 22nd, 2009, starting at 12:00 PM EST. The auction will be held at the Metropolitan Pavilion, located at 123 West 18th Street, New York, NY 10011, on the Fifth Floor. The viewing, which takes place on November 21st from 12:00PM-9:00PM EST and on November 22nd from 9:00AM-12:00PM EST, will be held in the same location as the auction.

While Gene Shapiro Auctions has always sought to present an eclectic mix of artists from different nationalities in its auctions, this auction presented an opportunity for the auction house to increase the breadth of its American offerings. The owner of the auction house, Gene Shapiro, says about the greater variety of works in this sale, “Make no mistake, we still specialize in Russian art and our proud of our global following and reputation. But I don’t think we need to be a ‘one-trick pony.’ My goal is to sell art of a high caliber, no matter where the artist was born.”

In this respect Shapiro’s November 22nd auction doesn’t disappoint. There are numerous highlights of both Russian and American pieces. For example, the cover lot of the auction catalog is a contemporary work by the important Russian artist Oleg Tselkov (Russian b.1934), “Four Headed with Scissors” from 1980, oil on canvas, 76 3/4 x 92 1/2 in. (195 x 235cm), estimated at $125,000-175,000. Shapiro notes, “Similar size paintings by the artist were selling between $200,000-300,000 and more at auction just a year ago. I think our estimate is a conservative one that reflects economic realities. However, paintings like this are hard to find and Tselkov is, was, and will remain one of the most important contemporary artists to ever come out of Russia.”

In the same auction we find a fascinating portrait of Captain Paul Cuffee by Chester Harding (American 1792-1866), oil on canvas, 29 x 24 inches (73.7 x 61 cm), estimated at $5,000-7,000. Captain Paul Cuffee was an important figure in American history and especially African-American history. His father was a freed black slave, and mother an Aquinnah Wampanoag Native American. Growing up in Dartmouth, Massachusetts, Cuffee was eventually beckoned by the sea. Eventually he would become a wealthy and influential ship-owner and businessman. A great deal of his life and energy was spent trying to improve the plight of African-Americans in the United States, but also to supporting colonization of African countries such as Sierra Leone with Americans of African descent.

The provenance of the painting of Cuffee includes being in the noted George Arden Collection of American Art. A prolific collector, Arden specialized in collecting American Art of the 19th Century, and his collection contained many of the best examples of works by artists from this time period. Shapiro’s auction is fortunate to have numerous works from this renowned collection. Another very appealing work in the auction that also was in the Arden Collection, is a work by Rembrandt Peale (American 1778-1860), “The Sisters,” oil on panel, 7 x 8 1/4 in. (17.8 x 21 cm), estimated at $5,000-7,000. A rare early work by Peale, this painting was in the important 1923 Peale retrospective exhibition at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, “Loan Exhibition of Portraits by Charles Willson Peale, Rembrandt Peale, and James Peale.” Bearing an original label from the 1923 exhibition, this painting exhibits Peale’s refined palette at an early point in his career, as well as the neoclassical influences of European art of the time. An interesting side note is that the lender of the painting to the exhibition was Francis B. Gummere, who is best known for her widely read 1910 translation, and literary championing, of the medieval English poem “Beowulf.”

As in many of his previous auctions, Shapiro’s November 22nd sale features numerous works by David Burliuk, including a powerful and quintessentially-Burliuk landscape scene with figures. From a private collection, the man and the woman in the painting represent Burliuk and his wife Marussia. Regarding the auction house’s affinity for painting by Burliuk, Shapiro states, “Burliuk is that rare phenomenon of painter who is equally appreciated in America as he is in Russia. I think the reason that we have become the first choice for buying and selling Burliuk for many buyers and sellers is that we are quite selective in our choices for auction. I reject a lot more Burliuks than I take in. Since prices for Burliuk began to reach multiples of their earlier price-levels with the advent of the Russian art boom, it has been an unfortunate development that a relative flood of Burliuk fakes has appeared on the market. A search for ‘Burliuk’ on eBay almost any day of the year will list many incorrect works, some obvious forgeries, and some almost decent. I even see these same fakes appear at some other auction houses outside of eBay, which is bad for the market as a whole. Burliuk did indeed paint in many different styles, but once you see real Burliuks, it becomes easy to distinguish them from the fake ones.”

Another American highlight of the Gene Shapiro November 22nd auction is a superbly executed portrait of Dr. Oliver Wolcott Gibbs from 1857 by Daniel P. Huntington, oil on canvas, 30 x 25 in. (76.2 x 63.5 cm), estimated at $8,000-10,000. In addition to its presence and skill, the painting is a historical artifact of 19th Century American academia, especially as it existed in New York. The artist Daniel Huntington was President of the National Academy, while the subject Dr. Oliver Wolcott Gibbs was a founding member and later President of the National Academy of Sciences.

A full color online catalog featuring the works in Shapiro’s November 22nd auction is viewable at www.geneshapiro.com. In addition, at the website, interested bidders can purchase a printed version of the catalog, download absentee and phone bidding forms, and peruse previous Gene Shapiro auctions. This auction will also be available for live online bidding via artfact.com.

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