Golden Age Greats Im­por­tant il­lus­tra­tions by Nor­man Rock­well and his col­leagues lead Her­itage Auc­tions’ May 4 Amer­i­can art sale

Im­por­tant il­lus­tra­tions by Nor­man Rock­well and his col­leagues lead Her­itage Auc­tions’ May 4 Amer­i­can art sale

American Fine Art Magazine - - Auctions -

One of the most beloved char­ac­ter­is­tics of Golden Age il­lus­tra­tion is the sense of Amer­i­cana in­fused in the works.the im­ages en­cap­su­late ev­ery­day mo­ments as well as the his­tory of a na­tion, hav­ing given it a broad au­di­ence of col­lec­tors over the years. Dur­ing Her­itage Auc­tions’ May 4 Amer­i­can Art Sig­na­ture Auc­tion in Dal­las,texas, a ro­bust of­fer­ing of these pieces will cross the block, in­clud­ing sev­eral stand­outs from Nor­man Rock­well.

Among the works by the artist are three with a his­tor­i­cal slant that Amer­i­can art de­part­ment head Aviva Lehmann be­lieves will con­nect with buy­ers from out­side the art-col­lect­ing world. Most no­table of the trio— and by all ac­counts the ex­pected top lot of the sale—is Ben Franklin, Sesqui­cen­ten­nial of the Sign­ing of the Dec­la­ra­tion of In­de­pen­dence, the May 29, 1926, Satur­day Evening Post cover.

The work, es­ti­mated at $800,000 to $1.2 mil­lion and ac­quired by the con­signor from the col­lec­tion of ac­tress Deb­bie Reynolds, is a pop­u­lar im­age of Ben­jamin Franklin ink­ing his quill to sign his name on the Dec­la­ra­tion of In­de­pen­dence. It also has been ex­hib­ited in a num­ber of mu­se­ums, in­clud­ing the Brook­lyn Mu­seum and the Nor­man Rock­well Mu­seum in Stock­bridge, Mas­sachusetts.

“You can even see the ea­gle in the back­ground,” de­scribes Lehmann, “which might pique the in­ter­est of some of our coin col­lec­tors…it’s a great im­age for Amer­i­can art col­lec­tors, but be­cause it has the his­tor­i­cal an­gle you’ll see com­pe­ti­tion from var­i­ous cat­e­gories.” Also among the three is a study for Rock­well’s Satur­day Evening Post cover The Cen­sus Taker (est. $250/350,000) that ar­rives to mar­ket from a pri­vate col­lec­tion in­vir­ginia and has ex­hib­ited at the Brandywine River Mu­seum.

“It has a great prove­nance, great

exhibition his­tory and it’s su­per fresh to the mar­ket,” says Lehmann.“it’s a study for a Post cover in 1940, which is con­sid­ered the great­est pe­riod of the artist’s ca­reer.”

A play­ful por­trait of Pres­i­dent Eisen­hower rounds out the group­ing of gov­ern­ment-themed works.the piece, ti­tled The Day I Painted Ike (All through that grind of turn­ing on dif­fer­ent moods, he never lost pa­tience.at the end-by golly, it was time to go fish­ing.), was com­peted in 1952 while he was run­ning for of­fice. It has a pre­sale es­ti­mate of $120,000 to $180,0000.

Other note­wor­thy lots in the il­lus­tra­tion seg­ment in­clude Rock­well’s Study for Be­fore the Shot (est. $150/250,000), an iconic im­age from a 1958 Satur­day Evening Post cover that once hung along­side the fin­ished cover at the Nor­man Rock­well Mu­seum, and J.C. Leyen­decker’s March 5, 1932, Satur­day Evening Post cover Living Man­nequin (est. $120/180,000). Her­itage cur­rently holds the world auc­tion record for a work by Leyen­decker, with this one be­ing one of his strong­est ex­am­ples, ac­cord­ing to Lehmann. “I think [Leyen­decker’s] still vastly un­der­val­ued.to get one of his great Satur­day Evening Post cov­ers for less than $500,000 is a no-brainer,” she says. “It’s from a Long Is­land es­tate and it’s been in one fam­ily for decades and mak­ing its pre­miere at auc­tion.” Out­side the il­lus­tra­tion cat­e­gory, the sale will ap­peal to col­lec­tors of im­pres­sion­ism, Hud­son River School and sculp­ture, as there are strong ex­am­ples in each seg­ment. In im­pres­sion­ism is Theodore Earl But­ler’s paint­ing of his daugh­ter ti­tled Lilly But­ler (Artist’s Daugh­ter, Step-grand­daugh­ter of Claude Monet) (est. $30/50,000); while the Hud­son River School seg­ment is led by John S. Jame­son’s 1862 paint­ing Graz­ing Sheep at Head­wa­ters of a Stream (est. $40/60,000).

Works by Jame­son, as Lehmann ex­plains, are rare to the mar­ket, with this one be­ing of par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est be­cause of its prove­nance.the paint­ing was ac­quired di­rectly from the artist, and then it de­scended through the fam­ily of the cur­rent owner.

A nice group of sculp­tures will cross the block in­clud­ing Harriet Whitney Fr­ish­muth’s 1921 Pas de

Deux (est. $30/50,000) and Fred­er­ick

Wil­liam Mac­mon­nies play­ful Boy and Duck, 1902, that has a pre­sale es­ti­mate of $25,000 to $35,000.“[The Mac­mon­nies] is a foun­tain sculp­ture from Ro­man Bronze,” says Lehmann. “It’s com­ing from an es­tate, is a nice size at 24¾ inches high and from an edi­tion of only four. It’s in a lot of lit­er­a­ture and it’s an im­por­tant work from his body of work that you don’t re­ally see that of­ten. [The piece is a] cel­e­bra­tion of Amer­i­can foun­tain sculp­ture.”

The auc­tion will also in­clude a group of early Amer­i­can modernism that spans from geo­met­ric ab­strac­tion to Ash­can to Amer­i­can scene. High­lights are pieces by Martin Lewis, John Sloan,wil­liam Zo­rach and Blanche Lazzell.three paint­ings by Ralph Ce­len­tano from the col­lec­tion of actor Bruce Wil­lis are also note­wor­thy, with Hang­ing out to Wash (est. $10/15,000) among them.

Theodore Earl But­ler (1861-1936), Lilly But­ler (Artist’s Daugh­ter, Step-grand­daugh­ter of Claude Monet), 1896. Oil on can­vas, 39 x 31½ in. Es­ti­mate: $30/50,000

Fred­er­ick Wil­liam Mac­mon­nies (1863-1937), Boy and Duck, 1902. Bronze with verdi­gris, 24¾ in. Es­ti­mate: $25/35,000

Nor­man Rock­well (1894-1978), The Cen­sus Taker, The Satur­day Evening Post cover study 1940. Oil on board, 16½ x 13 in. Es­ti­mate: $250/350,000

Nor­man Rock­well (1894-1978), Study for Be­fore the Shot, The Satur­day Evening Post cover, 1958. Oil on pho­to­graphic pa­per laid on board, 6¾ x 61/8 in. Es­ti­mate: $150/250,000

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