Harmonizing Sales After a likely record-setting Rockefeller sale, Christie’s will present a complementary auction of important American artworks
After a likely record-setting Rockefeller sale, Christie’s will present a complementary auction of important American artworks
Beginning May 7, an unprecedented collection of artwork from the David and Peggy Rockefeller Collection will be sold by Christie’s in Newyork City.
The sales, spread across several live and online auctions over several days, will likely be record-breaking blockbusters, and the art world is waiting patiently with superlatives at the ready.
So how does Christie’s follow up that sale? With a complementary American art sale less than two weeks later.“we are delighted to offer these works just two weeks after the Rockefeller sale. It will create a moment for American art,” says Paige Kestenman, associate specialist in the American art department at Christie’s. “A central focus of the Rockefeller Collection is American artwork, so we anticipate that interest will carry over for our American art sale.”
The May 22 auction, which will feature around 85 works—as well as
120 lots in an online portion that begins on May 15—will offer major works in a variety of categories, though a number of highlights come from two areas,american illustration and American Impressionism.
In the illustration category, the sale will feature two pieces by Norman Rockwell: Piano Tuner (est. $3/5 million), which originally ran on the cover of the January 11, 1947, cover of The Saturday
Evening Post, and Tender Years: Mowing the Lawn (est. $600/800,000), which was originally one of four images that appeared in a 1957 Brown & Bigelow calendar. “For Piano Tuner, this is a great example of Rockwell’s Saturday Evening Post covers. It embodies Rockwell’s unique ability to capture a whole story in just one image. From the boy curiously looking at the man tuning the piano to all the details in the foreground, including the leaning umbrella and the toolkit.the young boy depicted in the painting, his family originally owned the work—it was given to his father,” Kestenman says, adding that the piece shares some characteristics with What Makes ittick? (Thewatchmaker), a Rockwell that sold at Christie’s in November 2017 for $7.2 million.“for Tender Years, this one was part of a fourpart series for Brown & Bigelow—this piece represents summer. It’s a humorous image, which was a theme that can be seen in many of his works.”
Impressionist works include Childe Hassam’s 1892 oil on panel Conversation on the Avenue (est. $1.5/2.5 million), a Newyork scene painted after his time in Paris, and Frederick Carl Frieseke’s 1913 garden scene The Lattice Gate
(est. $500/700,000), which features his quintessential dappled brushwork.
“The Hassam features these three women decked out in the latest fashion of the time.you can see the artist developing his brushwork—there is a sense of energy in the expressive brushstrokes,” says Kestenman.“for the Frieseke, you really feel how brilliantly he could capture light, from the dark corner of the painting to the brighter foliage on the right and the way the angled door lets you in.”
Another notable lot is Milton Avery’s 1954 oil on canvas Red Nude, estimated at $1 million to $1.5 million, which features an abstracted figure arranged in a dramatic pose.“you can see Avery simplifying the expression of the human form in a focused manner that is really looking forward to the color field movement to come,” the Christie’s specialist says.“the figure is at once very anonymous, but there’s also a real personality embedded in her composition.the sense of color is extraordinary, and you can certainly see why Avery was called the American Matisse.”
Cherry Blossom Snow by Charles Burchfield will also be available with estimates set at $1 million to $1.5 million.the work was first started in 1917, but then additional pieces of paper were added and it was eventually completed in 1945.The ambitious painting was supposed to be a series, but Burchfield would abandon the series before it was completed.
Also available will be John
Singer Sargent’s Madam Helleu (est. $300/500,000) that comes from the Oklahoma home of oil tycoon Frank Phillips, and Race Horse (est. $300/500,000) by Grant Wood, whose works rarely come to auction. A prominent Western work in the May 22 sale is Thomas Moran’s Grand Cañon after a Storm, estimated between $800,000 and $1.2 million. The landscape painter had been captivated by the canyon since his first visit to the Arizona Territory in 1873.“One of the most fascinating aspects of the canyon for Moran was its ever-changing appearance due to the effects of weather and light. In Grand Cañon after a Storm, we can see Moran delighting in the mists and clouds as they conceal and mystify some aspects of the landscape and highlight others.” Other Western works are The Proud People (est. $300/500,000) by Gerard Curtis Delano, Breaking the Log Jam (est. $600/800,000) by N.c.wyeth, and several works by Oscar E. Berninghaus, including Cowboy Mess Camp (est. $70/80,000) and Old Faithful, Yellowstone (est. $30/$50,000).
The online portion of the American art sale, which runs from May 15 to
22, will feature works by Wolf Kahn, Dale Nichols,thomas Eakins,willard Leroy Metcalf, Soren Emil Carlsen and many others.
Milton Avery (1885-1965), Red Nude, 1954. Oil on canvas, 48 x 29¾ in., signed and dated lower left: ‘Milton Avery 1954’. Estimate: $1/1.5 million
Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), Tender Years: Mowing the Lawn, 1957. Oil on canvas, 18 x 18 in., signed lower right: ‘Norman/rockwell’. Estimate: $600/800,000 Images courtesy Christie’s Images Limited 2018.