Sotheby’s Amer­i­can Art Sale

Im­por­tant works from Thomas Mo­ran, Wil­liam R. Leigh and Emanuel Leutze avail­able dur­ing Sotheby’s Amer­i­can art sale.

Western Art Collector - - CONTENTS -

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

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