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Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

Christie’s New York Announces Mid-season Sale of Fine American Paintings, Drawings, and Sculpture for September 27

Christie’s New York presents its mid-season sale of Fine American Paintings, Drawings, and Sculpture, featuring an excellent selection of 19th and 20th century works at prices ranging from $2,000 to $120,000, on September 27.

Highlights include exceptional works by Norman Rockwell, George Inness, John Marin and Samuel Johnson Woolf, as well as a rare group of bronze sculptures from the Labor series by Max Kalish, consigned directly by the artist’s family. All genres of American art are represented, including Hudson River School, Impressionism, Ashcan, Modernism, Naïve, Illustration and Western Art. The total sale of a little over 200 lots is expected to achieve in excess of $3.1 million.

New York State of Mind
Among the lead highlights of the sale is New York Stock Exchange, 1924 (estimate: $70,000-100,000) by John Marin (1870-1953). Created in the boom before the Crash of 1929, the work evokes a dynamic tension with strong, dark diagonal strokes in watercolor, crayon and pencil. In addition to this painting, a number of high-quality pictures from well-known artists depict Manhattan and upstate New York across a wide range of periods and genres.

A selection of these works includes a Hopperesque view of early 20th century Greenwich Village (estimate: $60,000-80,000) by Samuel Halpert (1884-1930), Landscape View near Catskill Mountain House, 1867 (estimate: $30,000-50,000) by Jasper Francis Cropsey (1823-1900) and a painting by Naïve artist Anna Mary ‘Grandma’ Robertson Moses (1860-1961) titled The Hurricane in Hoosick Falls, 1945 (estimate: $25,000-30,000).

In keeping with the New York theme, the sale catalogue’s cover lot, Porch View, circa 1945 (estimate $60,000-80,000), by Milton Avery (1885-1965) depicts the Catskill Mountains from Woodstock, N.Y. An important figure in the American Modernist movement, Avery was largely self-taught and experimented with color planes and patterns, bridging the gap between Matisse’s vivaciously outlined canvases and the American color field artists of the 1950s. The back cover of the catalogue is reserved for another New York painting, by Guy Wiggins (1883-1962). New York, 1929 (estimate: $60,000-80,000), shows the great, gray bulk of the city looming above a busy river plied by ferries, barges and tugs.

Another important work is Girl in Spanish Costume, circa 1930, (estimate: $80,000-120,000) by Norman Rockwell (1894-1978). Painted in Norman Rockwell’s signature descriptive style of finely drawn, clear realism with a wealth of fascinating detail, this painting is among the many artistic achievements that established Rockwell as one of the best-known American painters of all time. Many other widely recognizable names in 20th century American art are represented here: Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009), Joseph Stella (1877-1946), and popular children’s book artist and author, Ludwig Bemelmans (1898-1963). Bemelmans’ Jacket, Place de la Concorde, (estimate $60,000-80,000) evokes memories of the beloved stories of Madeline, a schoolgirl who lived “in an old house in Paris that was covered in vines.”

Painted by 1956 when his third book, Madeline and the Bad Hat, was published, the present work incorporates the entire splendor of the Madeline series in one illustration. The character of Madeline, named for his wife and modeled after his daughter, was developed over the course of thirty years and seven successful books, one of which was published posthumously. Bemelmans’ oeuvre includes over forty published books, countless illustrations and the wall murals of Bemelmans Bar at The Carlyle, New York, named in the artist’s honor.

Beauty in Bronze
The work of American sculptor Max Kalish (1891-1945) is rarely offered for sale. Last year, a number of Kalish works sold for nearly four times their estimates. This year, several bronze statues, including four workmen from his Labor series, are sure to be hot lots, as these have been consigned directly from the personal collection of the artist’s family. Stoker (estimate $15,000-20,000) illustrates what James Kalish meant when he described his father’s work as “hard and soft at the same time. A rough workman in a ballerina pose. The beauty and reality of the working man, not glamorized, romanticized or politicized.”

Among other sculpture highlights in the sale is the Art Deco-style Meteor by Harriet Whitney Frishmuth (1880-1980). Originally designed as a hood ornament in 1923, the 4¼-in. bronze with silvered patina is one of a series of 13 and has also been known as Spirit of Speed (estimate: $15,000-25,000). Western art bronzes include Chief Flat Iron, Ogalalla Sioux (estimate: $20,000-30,000) by Adolph Alexander Weinman (1870-1952) a 9½-in. bust that shows every line of the chief’s proud face. Rounding out the group are two charming, small 1920s-era bronzes by Anna Vaughn Hyatt Huntington (1876-1973), Yawning Tiger (estimate: $6,000-8,000) and Descending Panther (estimate: $6,000-8,000), respectively, which exemplify her predilection for animal studies, in which every muscle and tendon stands out, amplifying the animal’s motion.

Image: Milton Avery, Porch View. Estimate: $60,000-80,000. Photo: Christie’s Images Ltd 2011.

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