Amer­i­can Ex­cel­lence

Works from thewest and il­lus­tra­tion bring in huge re­sults at Christie’s fall Amer­i­can art sale in Newyork

American Fine Art Magazine - - Event Report: New York, Ny -

Works from the West and il­lus­tra­tion bring in huge re­sults at Christie’s fall Amer­i­can art sale in New York

Thomas Mo­ran and Nor­man Rock­well, each rep­re­sent­ing iconic pe­ri­ods of Amer­i­can art—land­scape paint­ing for Mo­ran, and the Golden

Age of Il­lus­tra­tion for Rock­well—helped bring in $34.1 mil­lion at Christie’s Novem­ber 21 Amer­i­can art sale in New York City.

“We were very pleased. We saw sat­is­fy­ing re­sults from ev­ery cat­e­gory,” says William Hay­dock, the head of Christie’s Amer­i­can art de­part­ment, who added that the mar­ket for Amer­i­can art is go­ing to con­tinue to go up. “For our col­lec­tors, any­time the stock mar­ket is do­ing what it’s do­ing now, we’re cer­tainly go­ing to see re­newed strength. what we’re see­ing now is very en­cour­ag­ing.” Rock­well’s What Makes it Tick? (The Watch­maker) was the star of the sale when it sold for nearly $7.3 mil­lion, well above its $6 mil­lion high es­ti­mate.the work, ex­e­cuted in 1948, was a com­mis­sion from the Watch­mak­ers of Switzer­land, now known as the Fed­er­a­tion of Swiss Watch­mak­ers, which wanted the paint­ing and ac­com­pa­ny­ing ad to el­e­vate the brand glob­ally. “there was a lot of en­thu­si­asm for this Rock­well, who we’re still see­ing a lot of depth for in the bid­ding. I think there’s still some growth ahead for the Rock­well mar­ket,” Hay­dock says. “for him and for other il­lus­tra­tors such as J.C. Leyen­decker or John Philip Fal­ter.” an­other Rock­well lot that sold well was Girl Re­turn­ing from Camp, which sold within es­ti­mates for $2.2 mil­lion.

The sec­ond-best lot was Thomas Hart Ben­ton’s Night Fir­ing of To­bacco (est. $2.5/3.5 mil­lion) that sold for more than $2.6 mil­lion. an­other Ben­ton, Study for ‘For­ward Pass,’ also per­formed strongly when it sold for $588,500, well over its $350,000 high es­ti­mate.

Ad­di­tional top lots were Childe Has­sam’s Ap­ple

Trees in Bloom, Old Lyme

(est. $300/500,000) that sold for $672,500,William Aiken Walker’s Big B Cot­ton Plan­ta­tion (est. $150/250,000) that sold for $648,500, and Fred­eric Church’s A New Eng­land Lake (est. $1.5/2.5 mil­lion) that sold for $1.8 mil­lion. Hay­dock calls the Church one of the auc­tion’s best deals. “it’s one of the nicest ones to come to auc­tion in a while, and you won’t likely see an­other large-scale, 1850 Church paint­ing come to mar­ket for an­other 10 years,” he says. An­other star of the sale was Mo­ran, who was rep­re­sented by sev­eral key wa­ter­color and oil paint­ings, all of them from the West, where he doc­u­mented nat­u­ral won­ders such as the Grand Canyon and yel­low­stone. The land­scape painter’s top lot—and the third best of the en­tire auc­tion, be­hind the Rock­well and Ben­ton—was Canyon of the vir­gin River (est. $1/1.5 mil­lion) that sold for $2.4 mil­lion. Not far be­hind it was Zion Val­ley, South Utah (est.

$2/3 mil­lion) that sold for $2 mil­lion and Up­per Falls of the Yel­low­stone (est. $500/700,000) that sold for nearly $1.2 mil­lion.two other Mo­ran works sold well: Sur­vey Party in the val­ley of the yel­low stone

(est. $200/300,000) sold for $564,500 while Cas­tle Geyser, Yel­low­stone (est. $300/500,000) sold for $300,000.

Christie’s Western spe­cial­ist Tylee Ab­bott says this group­ing of Mo­ran paint­ings is “his­toric and will likely not be re­peated in a very long time.”

Other top Western lots were vic­tor Hig­gins’ The

Sis­ters (est. $150/250,000) that closed at $324,500, Joseph Henry Sharp’s Rab­bit Hunters (est. $150/250,000) that sold for $212,500, Charles M. Rus­sell’s When Meat Was Plen­ti­ful (est. $250/350,000) that sold for $275,000, and two works by Henry Farny, both of which ex­ceeded es­ti­mates when they sold for $372,500 and $384,500. Also of note was John Philip Fal­ter’s Young Sammy Six­gun (est. $150/250,000), show­ing a young boy watch­ing a Western show on tele­vi­sion, that sold for more than dou­ble its high es­ti­mate when it closed at $516,500.The paint­ing set a world record for the il­lus­tra­tor. “The Western mar­ket in and of it­self is one of the strong­est sub­cat­e­gories in Amer­i­can art along with Amer­i­can il­lus­tra­tion.we are ex­tremely for­tu­nate to have re­ally good-qual­ity ex­am­ples, top-notch ex­am­ples, from some of the best artists and al­ways with ex­cel­lent prove­nance,” he says. “ev­ery­thing we had for this sale hadn’t been on the mar­ket for at least 15 years, but in some cases as long as 30 or 40 years. And ev­ery­thing was in great con­di­tion.”

Thomas Hart Ben­ton (1889-1975), Night Fir­ing of To­bacco, 1943. Oil and tem­pera on board, 18 x 29¼ in., signed lower right: ‘Ben­ton’, and signed again and in­scribed on verso: ‘“To­bacco Fir­ing” (North Car­olina)’. Es­ti­mate: $2.5/3.5 mil­lion SOLD: $2,652,500

Nor­man Rock­well (1894-1978), What Makes It Tick? (The Watch­maker), 1948. Oil on can­vas, 26¼ x 26 in., signed lower right: ‘Nor­man/rock­well’. Es­ti­mate: $4/6 mil­lion SOLD: $7,287,500

An­drew Wyeth (1917-2009), Five and a Half and Study for ‘Oliver’s Cap’: A Dou­ble-sided Work, 1981. Wa­ter­color on pa­per, 28¼ x 22 in., Five and a Half signed up­per right: ‘An­drew Wyeth’. Es­ti­mate: $80/120,000 SOLD: $212,500

Thomas Mo­ran (1837-1926), Canyon of the Vir­gin River, 1909. Oil on can­vas, 20 x 30 in., signed with ini­tials in mono­gram and dated lower right: ‘Copy­right By/tmoran. 1909.’ Es­ti­mate: $1/1.5 mil­lion SOLD: $2,412,500

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