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
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