Amer­i­can Greats

Clas­sic Amer­i­can paint­ings from a va­ri­ety of cat­e­gories will be avail­able at Sotheby’s Novem­ber 16 Newyork sale

American Fine Art Magazine - - Event Preview: New York, Ny -

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

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