Sotheby’s New York to Auction American Paintings, Drawings & Sculpture on May 19

Sotheby’s New York will auction works by important American artists and genres, spanning Impressionism, Modernism, 19th Century Paintings and Western Art, on 19 May. The sale is highlighted by two important private collections: Property from the Collection of Edward P. Evans, featuring works by American Impressionist and Ashcan School artists, and Property from a Distinguished East Coast Collection, including canvases by Thomas Hart Benton, Milton Avery and Marsden Hartley. The sale will be on exhibition in Sotheby’s York Avenue galleries beginning 14 May.

Thomas Hart Benton, Flood Disaster. Est. $800,000/1.2 million. Photo: Sotheby’s.

Property from the Collection of Edward P. Evans
A well-known member of the equine community, Edward Evans assembled a fine art collection that is a very personal reflection of both his lifelong dedication to the sporting world and his devotion to quality in all forms. The Collection of Edward P. Evans features a range of 19th- and 20th-century paintings, with a particular emphasis on American Impressionism and the Ashcan School. The 19 May sale is led by Childe Hassam’s Quai St. Michel, painted during the artist’s travels in Paris in the late-1880s (est. $2.5/3.5 million*). While Hassam’s focal point is an elegant young woman browsing Paris’s famed bookinistes, the setting’s rich mixture of soft atmospheric effects and stone architecture competes for the viewer’s attention.

One of Mr. Evans’s favorite paintings and another standout from the Collection is George Bellows’s Dock Builders (est. $2/3 million). The first of a series of works by the artist that focus on Maine’s rugged seamen, the canvas exhibits the same compositional dynamism that Bellows made famous in his iconic boxing scenes. Also on offer is William Glackens’s brightly-colored Washington Square, which depicts the daytime activity of one of Greenwich Village’s most picturesque locations–a frequent subject among the Ashcan artists (est. $700/900,000). Other works in the Collection include a Shinnecock landscape by William Merritt Chase, portraits by Robert Henri, views by Sanford Robinson Gifford, John Twachtman and Ernest Lawson, and sculpture by Herbert Haseltine and Frederic Remington.

Property from a Distinguished East Coast Collection
This spring, over 100 works from a Distinguished East Coast Collection are on offer at Sotheby’s New York, across several collecting categories. The American paintings in the Collection are highlighted by the rare and archetypal Flood Disaster by Thomas Hart Benton (est. $800,000/1.2 million). Benton painted the work in response to the 1951 flooding of the Kansas and Missouri Rivers, which devastated over 1 million acres in the region. Acting as both artist and activist, Benton created this work to raise both popular and Congressional support for a flood relief program, producing a lithograph copy that he distributed to every member of the Senate and Congress in advance of their vote.

Other standouts from the Collection include Milton Avery’s March Playing the Cello, a lyrical portrait of the artist’s daughter painted with broad color fields and a stylized form (est. $800,000/1.2 million). Avery’s special regard for this painting is underscored by his inclusion of it in a later self-portrait. Also on offer will be New Mexico Recollection No. 8 by Marsden Hartley, an excellent example of the artist’s series from the early 1920s inspired by the landscape of the Southwest (est. $800,000/1.2 million). This remarkably diverse collection also includes portraits by Walt Kuhn, Robert Henri and James McNeill Whistler, and works on paper by Maurice Prendergast, Reginald Marsh and Charles Burchfield.

Important Western Pictures
Western art in the auction is led by Albert Bierstadt’s Light in the Forest, likely painted in the mid- to late-1870s (est. $2/3 million). A rare vertically-formatted work, the painting is enclosed by gracefully-arching trees rendered with the brushy handling that is so recognizable in his landscapes. Two works from the Wichita Center for the Arts highlight the sale, including Ernest Leonard Blumenschein’s White Blanket and Blue Spruce. The work features a single, standing female draped in swaths of fabric, who gazes directly at the viewer (est. $700/900,000). Blumenschein–whose works rarely appear on the market–co-founded the Taos Society of Artists in 1915, to promote western art and educate both the public and fellow artists. Also on offer from the institution is After the Chapel Hour by Walter Ufer, which depicts Pueblo Indians departing a mid-day mass (est. $600/800,000). The work was acquired by the present owner directly from the artist in 1923.

John Bradley Storrs’s Abstract Sculpture leads the sculpture on offer in the May sale (est. $250/350,000). Executed circa 1930, the important and unique work demonstrates the influences of both Machine-Age technology and the Art Deco style on the artist. A favored student of Auguste Rodin in 1913, Storrs quickly moved beyond the modeled, textured surfaces of his mentor to become one of the foremost modernist sculptors to emerge in the United States in the early-20th century. Other sculpture in the sale includes works by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Carl Emil Willes and Bessie Potter Vonnoh.

*Estimates do not include buyer’s premium

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