Durer Etching for Bonhams & Butterfields Spring Prints Auction

Fine arts auctioneers Bonhams & Butterfields will offer American and European prints on May 4, 2010, a simulcast auction to be held in its San Francisco and Los Angeles salesrooms. As many as 340 lots will be offered, including rare and desirable etchings, lithographs, woodcuts and screenprints — and featuring an Albrecht Dürer 1504 engraving Adam and Eve, one of the most celebrated works of the artist’s career.

Public previews of the Spring prints sale will be held at Bonhams & Butterfields’ Sunset Blvd. gallery in Los Angeles on April 24-25 and the San Francisco previews open May 1-3. The illustrated auction catalog is posted for review at www.bonhams.com/us. American, European, Contemporary and Modern prints, as well as Picasso glazed terre de faïence plates and vases stem from private collections, from noted estates and trusts, and from the corporate art collection of the defunct law firm Heller Ehrman, LLP.

The very first lot of the auction will be Dürer’s Adam and Eve, depicting the Fall of Man – the moment Eve, swayed by urgings of a snake, took an apple and gave it to Adam. The engraving is described as a fine Meder IIc impression, with very good clarity of detail. Estimated at $80/120,000, the work had been within the collection of the San Francisco banker Albert W. Scholle, who had amassed an impressive collection of old master and modern prints before his death in 1917. Several Goya and Rembrandt etchings follow, with Rembrandt’s The Circumcision (Small Plate) expected to bring $12/15,000.

Within the 19th century and Modern Prints section are multiple Gustave Baumann woodcuts and desirable works by Mary Cassatt, Dalï, Toulouse-Lautrec, Georges Braque, Renoir and Jean Dubuffet. Personnage au costume rouge, the 1961 lithograph by Dubuffet, is signed, dated, and numbered 9 of 50, estimated at $35/50,000. A strong selection of Chagall lithographs includes Oh Happy Bridegroom…, from In the Land of the Gods, 1967 (est. $10/20,000). Collectors will vie for Joan Miró and Alphonse Mucha lithographs from the JZ Knight Collection and others. Familiar Picasso lithographs, aquatints and etchings stem from the Robert Service Trust and other collections, and glazed terre de faïence turned round dishes, pitchers and vases feature estimates between $2,000 and $10,000. Rufino Tamayo and Francisco Zúñiga prints highlight the Latin American works on offer.

The auction’s Contemporary Prints and Multiples section includes property offered from the corporate art collection of Heller Ehrman, LLP, lead by the Richard Diebenkorn woodcut Ochre, 1983, which decorated one of the international law firm’s offices and is expected to bring as much as $40,000. Several David Hockney lithographs from the collection feature works from the British artist’s 1984-85 “Moving Focus” series: An image of Gregory (est. $15/20,000) and Views of Hotel Well III (est. $30/40,000). Helen Frankenthaler’s Madame Butterfly, 2000, is a woodcut in colors on three sheets of wove paper, signed, dated and numbered 7/33 (est. $50/70,000).

Desirable works from other collections include Robert Rauschenberg’s 1964 lithograph Breakthrough I from an edition of 20, estimated at $60/80,000. The same estimate is in place for the iconic screenprint by Edward Ruscha, Standard Station, 1966.

A complete untitled set of four Keith Haring lithographs from 1987 could bring as much as $25,000 while Jasper Johns’ Figure 7, from The Black Numeral Series, 1968, is expected to bring $30/50,000. The same estimate is in place for Robert Motherwell’s lithograph Burning Elegy, signed and numbered 7 of 33. Several lots come to auction from the estate of the noted Southern California philanthropist Nancy M. Daly, including Roy Lichtenstein’s screenprint from 1995 Untitled Head (est. $8/12,000).

May’s prints sale closes with a strong selection of Andy Warhol works – including the screenprint Mao (est. $30/40,000); Cow; Annie Oakley, from “Cowboys and Indians;” the green-faced wicked Witch from the “Myths” series (est. $20/30,000); Dracula from “Myths;” several examples from Warhol’s “Gems” series, and his lithograph Flower – expected to bloom at $10/15,000.

Bonhams & Butterfields illustrated auction catalogs, sales calendars and collector information is available at www.bonhams.com/us.