Heritage Auctions’ May 4 sale yields more than $4.5 million, with work by Norman Rockwell leading the pack
Each year, Dallas-based Heritage Auctions hosts two American art sales, with their most recent edition held May 4. One of the hallmarks of the auctions is the variety of illustrations that come to market. this latest sale was no exception. Leading the day were 10 works by Norman Rockwell—nine of which found new buyers, with five landing in the top 10 lots. Three history-themed pieces by Rockwell were of particular interest, including the day’s highest seller: Ben Franklin’s Sesquicentennial
(est. $800/1,200,000) at $762,500.The painting of the Founding Father, which once resided in the collection of Debbie Reynolds, was commissioned by The Saturday Evening Post in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
The other two pieces included the Post cover study The Census Taker, which came in above its $350,000 high estimate at $372,500, while Rockwell’s portrait of Dwight D. Eisenhower 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.) achieved $150,000 against a presale estimate of $120,000 to $180,000.These three pieces, as Heritage’s director of American art, Aviva Lehmann, says, grabbed attention from outside collecting categories helping push their prices.
“I think [the Ben Franklin work] did very well and is a testament to Heritage of what we do best in crossmarketing,” she says. “We did get interest from areas of historical departments, coin departments…”
A Saturday Evening
Post cover by Joseph Christian Leyendecker titled Living Mannequin
(est. $120/180,000) also made waves when it sold for $312,500, becoming the third highest seller. “it was a wonderful, wonderful work and exceeded its estimate in a big way,” says Lehmann. “It had great provenance, great subject matter and was in beautiful condition. Leyendeckers are coming out of the woodwork lately because his market is doing so well.”
Selling for $250,000 during the sale was Grazing Sheep at Headwaters of a Stream by John S. Jameson, which had been estimated to achieve only $40,000 to $60,000.“What was extra special about this work was it was completely fresh to the market. It traced back to the artist, and it was being offered for the first time since he painted it,” Lehmann shares, adding, “It was really exciting and it had multiple bidders on it.” Other noteworthy items included Paris – Café Deux Magots by Leroy Neiman, which sold above estimate at $81,250; Marguerite Thompson Zorach’s Mother and Child (est. $60/80,000) at $75,000; Milton
Avery’s Churning Bay (est. $30/50,000) at $65,625; and Blanche Lazzell’s doublesided painting Black Fish and Untitled, which achieved $50,000.
John S. Jameson (1842-1864),Grazing Sheep at Headwaters of aStream, 1862. Oil on canvas,18 x 33 in., signed and dated lower center: ‘J.S. Jameson / 1862’. Estimate: $40/60,000 SOLD: $250,000
Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), Ben Franklin’s Sesquicentennial, The Saturday Evening Post cover, May 29, 1926. Oil on canvas, 36 x 27 in., signed lower right: ‘Norman / Rockwell’. Estimate: $800/1,200,000 SOLD: $762,500
Right: Norman Rockwell (18941978), The Census Taker, The Saturday Evening Post cover study, 1940. Oil on board, 16½ x 13 in., signed lower right: ‘Norman / Rockwell’. Estimate: $250/350,000 SOLD: $372,500Far right: Joseph Christian Leyendecker (1874-1951), Living Mannequin, The Saturday Evening Post cover, March 5, 1932. Oil on canvas, 32 x 24½ in., signed lower right: ‘Jcleyendecker’. Estimate: $120/180,000 SOLD: $312,500