Classic American paintings from a variety of categories will be available at Sotheby’s November 16 Newyork sale
Classic American paintings from a variety of categories will be available at Sotheby’s November 16 New York sale
Gems from many categories— Hudson River School landscapes, regionalist masterpieces, illustration, art from the American West and others—will cross the auction block November 16 at Sotheby’s American Art sale in New York City.
Two key lots in the fall sale are by artists whose works are rare to the market: Emanuel Leutze and Grant Wood, two artists with very different backgrounds yet who both spoke to the American experience in their paintings. The Leutze offering is his 1863 oil Indians Attacking a Wagon Train,a 68-inch-wide painting of pioneers in covered wagons preparing for an attack by an unseen Native American war party stirring dust on the horizon. Leutze, whose most famous work is the 1851 masterpiece Washington Crossing the Delaware, painted a series of small vignettes within the painting, which provides a rich narrative as the settlers scramble for what could be a bloody battle.
“Leutze was German born, but he focused on a number of American subjects.these works are exceptionally rare to come to market—the last time one was available was 2007,” says
Kayla Carlsen, vice president of the American art department at Sotheby’s. “Major examples by this artist are often in institutions, so to have one of this quality available is really exciting.” Indians Attacking a Wagon Train, which is estimated at $2.5 million to $3.5 million, was likely a commission and was in a private collection by the early 1900s. Carlsen expects interest from not just Western art collectors, who will likely be drawn to the pioneer imagery, but bidders who are interested in broader American art, as well as international bidders.
The Wood painting, the 1931 oil Portrait of Nan, will likely be familiar to fans of Wood.“obviously excluding
American Gothic, wood’s most famous work, this is easily one of his most iconic and wellknown portraits,” says Sotheby’s American art specialist Elizabeth Pisano. “it’s a portrait of his sister, who also posed for him for American Gothic, which he had just completed when he painted this portrait. It’s been exhibited frequently, including most recently at the
Wood retrospective at the Whitney this summer. It’s also been extensively featured in literature related to Wood. It’s an enigmatic portrait that has been written about and discussed frequently. So much writing has been done about the meaning of the portrait with Nan holding a baby chick and an egg, and there is no definitive answer. a nother interesting aspect is that Wood and his sister designed the outfit she is wearing together, even cutting a potato in half and printing the pattern on the dress. wood was very interested in decorative arts and clothing design, something that you can see in this great work.”
The work is estimated at $1.5 million to $2.5 million. wood paintings of this quality are rare to auction. Couple that with the Whitney exhibition, and Portrait of Nan could soar with bidders, Pisano says. “the market is really primed for a work of this caliber,” she adds.
Other important works include two major Thomas Moran paintings, one each in oil and watercolor, the artist’s preferred mediums.the oil is Moran’s 79-inch wide The Last Arrow, showing two Native American figures defending their land from two tiny figures that are almost hidden in the background foliage of the painting.“1867 was a great year for Moran’s work, which is why collectors tend to prefer earlier works,” Carlsen says, adding that the tribe represented in the painting may never be known. “during this period he would have be painting studies from nature and then more accomplished large canvas paintings like this would have been done at the studio. So it’s likely these people are an amalgam of tribes from around the United States. We will likely never know.”
The watercolor is the 1872 work on paper Big Springs in yellow stone Park,
which also shows two figures in an expansive landscape scene. Moran’s paintings from places that are today national parks, including Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon, are some of his most famous works. Big Springs in Yellowstone Park is estimated at $1 million to $1.5 million.
Another offering is Norman Rockwell’s 1921 Saturday Evening Post illustration Boy Hiding Under Couch Sneezing (The Sneezing Spy), estimated at $1 million to $1.5 million. although the work is an early Rockwell, it came five years after he started a nearly fivedecade career with The Saturday Evening Post. while later Rockwell works sell for 11-figure prices, these early works are becoming more attractive to collectors for their more affordable prices. “you can also see his gift for narration, and his sense of humor,” says Pisano.“collectors are turning their attention to these really great early works.” The November sale will also include Charles Sheeler’s 1946 tempera and pencil work Prelude to Winter, estimated at $600,000 to $800,000.The Sheeler, as well as the Wood painting and several other lots, come from the collection of Sen. william Benton, who is perhaps most famously remembered for introducing a resolution to expel
Sen. Joseph Mccarthy from the Senate. Benton, who also published Encyclopaedia Britannica for three decades, was a champion of the arts and acquired a stunning collection in the 1960s that is just now making its way to the market. Also available to bidders is William R. Leigh’s Western painting A Lowdown Trick, estimated at $700,000 to $1 million.the Leigh features a cowboy being tossed from his bucking horse. Fans of the artist will immediately recognize the subject as one of the artist’s favorites. “i t’s got action, which is what everyone wants from a Leigh,” says Carlsen.“… [i]t has really great color, and it plays on the light and shadow of the horse.all the hallmarks of a Leigh painting are here.”
Thomas Moran (1837-1926),The Last Arrow, 1867. Oil on canvas,52 x 79 in. Estimate: $1.2/1.8 million
Grant Wood (1891-1942), Portrait of Nan, 1931.Oil on Masonite, 35½ x 29½ in., titled and inscribed verso: ‘*ORTRAIT OF NAN”/BY GRANT WOOD-CEDAR RAPIDS-IA.’. Estimate: $1.5/2.5 million
Emanuel Leutze (1816-1868), Indians Attacking a Wagon Train, 1863. Oil on canvas, 40 x 67½ in., signed lower right: ‘E Leutze’; inscribed lower right: ‘Dusdf p.p.c.’. Estimate: $2.5/3.5 million
Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), Boy Hiding Under Couch Sneezing (The Sneezing Spy), 1921. Oil on canvas, 26½ x 22 in., signed lower right: ‘Norman/rockwell’. Estimate: $1/1.5 million
Charles Sheeler (1883-1965), Prelude to Winter, 1946. Tempera and pencil on paperboard,12 x 161/8 in., signed and dated lower right: ‘Sheeler 1946’; titled, signed and dated verso: ‘Prelude to Winter’. Estimate: $600/800,000
Thomas Moran (1837-1926), Big Springs in Yellowstone Park, 1872. Watercolor and gouache on paper, 9½ x 19½ in., signed and dated lower right: ‘T. MORAN 1872’. Estimate: $1/1.5 million