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Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

Julian Onderdonk Bluebonnet Painting for Heritage Western & Texas Art Auction

Julian Onderdonk’s 1917 oil painting Bluebonnets at Sunrise headlines the sublime, often stellar lineup of Texas & Western Art in Heritage Auction Galleries’ Signature® Auction, May 15, at the company’s Downtown Dallas Design District Annex, locate at 1518 Slocum Street. The painting, the first major Onderdonk “Bluebonnet” painting to be offered at public auction since the major retrospective of his work at the Dallas Museum of Art in 2008. It is estimated at $80,000-$120,000.

“Bluebonnets at Sunrise has the quality of light and atmosphere found in Onderdonk’s most beautiful depictions of bluebonnets,” said Atlee Phillips, Director of Texas Art at Heritage. “You have these beautiful Texas wildflowers blanketed in mist as dawn begins to glow on the horizon, making it quite an arresting and important piece of work, on par with his very best paintings.”

Perhaps the most interesting thing about Bluebonnets at Sunrise – especially to scholars and serious collectors – is the inscription on the back, which reveals valuable insight into his methods and business practices. In addition to the signature, date, and title, Onderdonk wrote instructions to return the painting, still wet at the time of purchase, so that he could varnish it himself later in the year.

“This picture should be varnished in October or Nov 1917,” wrote Onderdonk. “Notify me and I will attend to it.”

“Bluebonnets at Sunrise represents the best of both early Texas art and American Impressionism,” said Phillips. “The most desirable and beloved subject that Onderdonk painted was bluebonnets, which was demonstrated by the tremendous response to the 2008 DMA exhibition.”

Another important Texas highlight from the May Heritage Texas & Western Art Auction is James Erwin Boren’s ethereal oil painting, Golliad March 19, 1836, done by Boren in 1983 to celebrate the upcoming 1986 Texas Sesquicentennial. The painting, which was exhibited in the Texas Sesquicentennial Show at the CAA Museum in Kerrville, Texas, April 25-July 13, 1986, is estimated at $60,000-$80,000 and comes to Heritage from the Duffy and Tina Oyster Foundation.

Martin Grelle’s energetic and deeply detailed 2006 oil painting, Cheyenne Pride, represents an important offering in modern Texas & Western painting. In this notable painting a Cheyenne brave sits atop a dappled bay horse, surveying the horizon. The intensity of his gaze doesn’t reveal what he sees, but certainly relays the gravity of the approaching situation.

“In Cheyenne Pride Grelle manages to capture the wild spirit of his subjects, giving them tremendous vitality,” said Phillips, “all the while pointing to a way of life that has been gone for more than a century.”

Further highlights include:

Donray (American, b. 1945), Redrock, 2008: Acrylic on linen, 37 x 45 inches (94.0 x 114.3 cm). Signed and dated: Ray ’08. Estimate: $10,000-$15,000.

Ed Mell (American, b. 1942), Sunset Landscape: Oil on canvas, 16 x 20 inches (40.6 x 50.8 cm). Signed/etched lower right: Ed Mell. Estimate: $10,000-$15,000.

Olin Travis (American, 1888-1975), Red Mountain, circa 1938: Oil on masonite, 35 x 47 inches (88.9 x 119.4 cm). Signed lower right: Olin Travis. Estimate: $40,000-$60,000.

Heritage Auctions, headed by Steve Ivy, Jim Halperin and Greg Rohan, is the world’s third largest auction house, with annual sales more than $600 million, and 500,000+ registered online bidder members. For more information about Heritage Auctions, and to join and gain access to a complete record of prices realized, along with full-color, enlargeable photos of each lot, please visit