The November 23, 2009 auction of California and American Paintings and Sculpture at Bonhams & Butterfields offered a wide array of important Western scenes, Plein Air, Society of Six, and land and cityscapes by noted California and American artists. The Los Angeles-based sale brought more than $2.7-million and established a new world auction record for artist William Franklin Jackson.
“The market for California and American painting and sculpture continues to hold its own. We were fortunate to offer a good selection of quality pictures, including some Museum deaccessions. Solid prices and vibrant bidder participation were seen in a number of collecting areas. Interest in the November auction reflected an ongoing constancy in the marketplace for fresh and unique works,” said Scot Levitt, Vice President and Fine Arts Department Head.
The top painting of the 200 lot fall sale was an impressionist canvas by E. Charlton Fortune titled Summer Landscape. Fortune worked in obscurity for much of her career and utilized the ‘E.’ (for Euphemia) to disguise her gender. Although the artist is widely known for her later work in the genres of portrait and religious compositions, Summer Landscape is an earlier impressionistic style painting with emphasis on the effect of light and shadow. The fresh-to-market work brought $278,000 and was sold to benefit future museum acquisitions for the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.
“Although works by Fortune are rare to public auction, they are becoming highly sought after. Buyers are looking for pieces from early in her career, such as Summer Landscape,” said Levitt.
Following Summer Landscape , the second highest price was paid for another purely impressionist composition by Granville Redmond, entitled Southern California Hills. Beaming with California poppies, this work exemplified why Redmond continues to be one of the top sellers in the Plein Air paintings market. The work sold for $275,000.
Two impressionist works by Edgar Payne also performed well during the auction. Among the highlights was Waves on the California Coast (sold for $134,000) and A view along the Owen’s River (sold for $79,300).
During the simulcast auction, robust bidding for California landscapes was seen in both the Los Angeles and San Francisco galleries. High points of the section included The Hilltop by William Wendt (sold for $79,300); a muted Catalina Sunrise, Lover’s Cove by Granville Redmond (sold for $54,900); Wild Heliotrope and Poppies by John Marshall Gamble (sold for $39,650); Quiet Hills by Hanson Puthuff (sold for $73,200) and Early Spring, Sonoma by William Franklin Jackson (sold for $43,920) – a new world record for the artist at auction.
A pair of seminal works by female artist Jessie Arms Botke, A Pair of Cockatoos (sold for $85,400) and Golden Pheasants (sold for $61,000), also brought very strong prices. Lifelike and colorful, the paintings reflected Botke’s interest in the aviary world.
Western themes, both traditional and modern, brought competitive bidding throughout the November sale. The sale also featured a classic work titled Butte at Red Lake, Navajo Reservation, Arizona by Maynard Dixon (sold for $67,100) and John Frost’s Devil’s Playground (sold for $61,000).