Heritage Auctions’ American Art Auction
Heritage Auctions’ November sale of American art features a dynamic array of paintings by leading Western artists.
At auction, some of the most hotly sought-after items are pieces arriving to market for the first time or making an appearance after being in private hands for years. During Heritage Auctions’ November 8 sale of American art, its Western segment— accounting for about a quarter of the total lots—will feature a selection of major pieces that fit that description. “A lot of the Western art is so fresh to the market to the point where the provenance is tracing back to the artist and they’ve stayed in the family,” elaborates Alissa Ford, director of Western Art at Heritage. Among the examples in the sale, Ford names works by Walter Ufer, Blanche Grant, Frank Tenney Johnson, Edith Hamlin and more.
One of the most anticipated items in the sale is Johnson’s nocturne A Light in the Night, depicting a cowboy on horseback with his face lit up by an orange glow, complementing the blue hues of the night sky that surround the scene. The painting was in the collection of Norm Anderson, founder of Anderson Chevrolet, San Jose, whose family purchased the piece around the time it was painted in 1936 before it descended to him and then to its present owner.
It is estimated to sell between $80,000 and $120,000.
Works by members of the Taos Society of Artists tend to make a splash at auction, with several examples crossing the block. Ufer’s At Ease, from 1926, depicts one of his most frequent models, Jim Mirabel, and is a making its auction debut, while a work by Grant, titled Cochiti Bird
(est. $6/8,000), is also being sold for the first time after the collector’s family purchased it from the artist in the 1930s.
“The Ufer has been in the family since 1926 when it was painted,” says Ford. “We suspect that it was exhibited at the Georgian Hotel in 1926 because there are letters that accompany the lot about the exhibition.” The two letters were handwritten by Walter Louis Cohrs, who was the first owner of the painting in 1926, where it then passed down through the family. In describing the work, which has an estimate of $60,000 to $80,000, Ford calls it a “classic Ufer” that features vibrant colors and brushwork collectors have come to expect in his paintings.
Another Taos artist with a standout piece in the sale is Joseph Henry Sharp, whose painting The Bow and Arrow Makers (est. $80/120,000) is a classic work of two Native Americans creating their weaponry. The piece, as Ford explains, features Jerry Mirabel—whose brother is in the Ufer painting—and “is interesting because it depicts the models in Sharp’s studio. We can identify the exact spot that Sharp painted this.”
A masterwork in the auction is Olaf Wieghorst’s monumental Beef Herd, which was exhibited in 1983 at the Gilcrease Museum. “I think it’s interesting because of the scale and how he’s placed the perspective of the viewer,” Ford shares of the piece, which has a presale estimate of $60,000 to $80,000. “He’s put us where we are part of the cattle ride instead of an onlooker. We’re a part of it as he’s rounding up the herd and taking us down the mountain with all the different atmospheric clouds and light coming through. I really do think it’s one of the better Wieghorsts that I’ve seen.”
Other notable items include a piece by Winold Reiss titled Stealing One After the Other, Achcóyecamosaki
(est. $12/18,000), which features the artist’s hallmark patterns; Clark Hulings’ Tesuque Mayor’s Backyard, 1974, which has an estimate of $25,000 to $35,000; and Glenna Goodacre’s 137-inch high bronze The Rescue
(est. $150/200,000) that is located in Vermont and is being sold in situ. Also arriving at auction is G. Harvey’s 1993 painting When Cowboys Don’t Change, which was purchased by the collector from the artist in 1994. It is expected to sell between $400,000 and $600,000.
Joseph Henry Sharp (1859-1953), The Bow and Arrow Makers, oil on canvas, 20 x 24” Estimate: $80/120,000
Estimate: $12/18,000 Olaf Wieghorst (1899-1988), Beef Herd, oil on canvas, 34 x 48” Estimate: $60/80,000
Winold Reiss (1886-1953), Stealing One After the Other, Achcóyecamosaki, gouache and pastel on board, 30 x 21¾”