Sotheby’s American Art Sale
Important works from Thomas Moran, William R. Leigh and Emanuel Leutze available during Sotheby’s American art sale.
New York, NY
On November 16 Sotheby’s will return with its fall American art sale in New York City. In addition to American works across many categories and genres, the auction will present a number of major Western works.
This season’s top Western lots include important pieces from William R. Leigh, Thomas Moran and 19th century German-american painter Emanuel Leutze, whose name does not frequently come up in conversations about Western art, but whose works of the American West are treasured by many museums and institutions around the world.
Sotheby’s will be offering Leutze’s 1863 oil
Indians Attacking the Wagon Train, a 68-inchwide painting of pioneers in covered wagons preparing for an attack by a largely unseen Native American war party on the horizon. In the work, Leutze, most famous for his 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 the 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, but bidders who are interested in the broader category of American art, as well as international bidders.
Also available for bidders is Leigh’s A Lowdown Trick, estimated at $700,000 to $1 million, featuring a cowboy being tossed from his bucking horse. Fans of Leigh’s will work will immediately recognize the subject as one of the artist’s favorites. “It’s got action, which is what everyone wants from a Leigh,” says Carlsen, who adds that the work was likely first sold through Grand Central Art Gallery, a prominent New York gallery that sold many Leighs during its time. “It’s been in the same family since 1975, so it’s very fresh to the market. And as you can tell it has really great color, and it plays on the light and shadow of the horse. All the hallmarks of a Leigh painting are here.”
Another offering in the fall sale is Thomas Moran’s 79-inch-wide oil 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.”
Sotheby’s fall sale will take place at noon on November 16 in New York.
Emanuel Leutze (1816-1868), Indians Attacking the Wagon Train, oil on canvas, 40 x 68” Estimate: $2.5/3.5 million
Thomas Moran (1837-1926), The Last Arrow, 1867, oil on canvas, 52 x 79” Estimate: $1.2/1.8 million
William R. Leigh (1866-1955), A Low-down Trick, 1948, oil on canvas, 32 x 48” Estimate: $700/1,000,000