Jackson Hole Art Auction
Jackson Hole, WY
Jackson Hole, Wyoming, is known for its abundance of wildlife, some of which will march through town to the irritation of locals and to the delight of tourists. Grizzly bears, moose, elk and bison have all played curious residents in Wyoming’s famous city squished between Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park, the National Elk
Refuge and a half dozen national forests.
So it’s fitting that the best place in the world to view and buy wildlife art is Jackson Hole. And one of the crown jewels of Jackson Hole’s thriving art scene is the Jackson Hole Art Auction, which will take place this year on September 13 and 14 at the Center for the Arts. This year’s sale will feature nearly 500 works of art offered in two sessions. The first session will be offered entirely with no reserves, a popular feature at several key Western art auctions.
“This year’s sale is shaping up beautifully. I can say unequivocally that this is the strongest selection of wildlife art we’ve ever had, and wildlife art is our signature category. It’s really an astonishing collection of artwork,” says
auction partner Roxanne Hofmann Mowery, who adds that many of the works are coming from three highly curated private collections that feature many works fresh to the market. “The first session should be a lot of fun because it will have some great pieces there for emerging collectors, including some really amazing pieces with estimates below $25,000. And, of course, the second session has some pieces that are sure to be very exciting.”
Within the wildlife category, highlights include several major Carl Rungius paintings, the likely top lot being Alaskan Wilderness, a 40-by-50-inch image of a moose amid fallen logs and a moss-covered boulder. It is estimated at $400,000 to $600,000. “Even though Rungius was born in Germany he became the most famous artist painting North America wildlife. This first one is just gorgeous with a really great provenance. It was exhibited at the National Academy of Design in 1924, and then in 1925 it was an exhibition at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts,” Mowery says. “It’s really a superlative example of some of his most mature, more impressionist style of work. It’s one of the masterworks of his career.”
The other big highlight from the artist is the 1907 work A Mountain King, estimated at $150,000 to $250,000. It features a caribou looking down a dramatic incline with a magnificent landscape behind it. Several other Rungius works will be offered with subject matter that includes a saddled horse, a bear and cub, and a wapiti, which resembles a deer.
Bob Kuhn is another wildlife master whose works will be offered in the sale. The two big pieces are both mountain lion paintings: Cat on the Qui Vive, estimated at $150,000 to $250,000, and The Look Before the Leap, estimated at $100,000 to $200,000. “Cat on the Qui Vive is especially wonderful because it was a commission directly from the artist and it has been in a private collection for quite some time. It will be very fresh to the market,” Mowery says. “What’s also important to remember is that Bob Kuhn loved cats, so these are really very iconic works for him. He depicted the cat’s elegance, which is unmistakable in each painting.”
In addition to several other Kuhn paintings, and a rare Kuhn bronze, the Jackson Hole Art Auction will also offer important works from
who’s who list of wildlife artists: Wilhelm Kuhnert, Tucker Smith, David Shepherd, Bonnie Marris, Stanley Meltzoff, Luke Frazier, Ken Carlson, John Clymer and several large works from Robert Bateman, including the misty morning scene Elk and Aspen (est. $80/120,000).
The American cowboy is another prominent category in the sale, and this year will be no exception with pieces from James Bama, Bill Anton, Olaf Wieghorst, G. Harvey and others. What is certain to be one of the most talked about lots comes from Thomas Hart Benton, the famous regionalist who captured American subjects throughout much of the 20th century. His 1931 work on paper, Cowboys at the Corral (est. $400/600,000), is likely to spark some fireworks, Mowery says. “This is one extremely rare. In 1930 he traveled to Wyoming because he was looking for inspiration in the West. He snuck into the Fourth of July rodeo posing as a reporter from the Denver Post and for several days he spent time sketching the cowboys he saw. He was fascinated with that part of the American West,” she says. “Benton worked throughout the Great Depression, but unlike so many artists of the time, he didn’t seek support from the WPA simply because he achieved so much success, even during the Depression.”
Another cowboy work to keep your eyes on is Mark Maggiori’s Cowboys at Work, estimated at $30,000 to $50,000. The piece shows three riders on horseback and two others tending to a horse. The scene is framed by a distant mountain range and clouds that are swooping over the snow-covered peaks. Two other cowboy works will likely draw lots of interest: Arnold Friberg’s Too Many Cooks (est. $30/50,000), which shows a cow making a mess of the chuck wagon, and Charlie Dye’s camp scene Remuda (est. $70/100,000), which Mowery calls “one of the most substantial and dramatic works ever painted by the artist.”
Native American subject matter will play a significant role in the sale, with Martin Grelle’s Cheyenne Remnants (est. $250/350,000) coming out as an early favorite. “I’ve known Martin since the mid1980s and I’ve sold his work since that time, and this is simply one of the best examples of his major works,” Mowery says. “It’s a large painting and has these large figures with a travois as they travel through the winter as light glistens off the snow.”
Other works that will interest collectors include Kenneth Riley’s scene of a Native American on horseback, Regalia (est. $25/45,000); Z.S. Liang’s new piece The Blue Coats are Coming This Way (est. $40/60,000); the Thomas Moran watercolor A Rock Strewn Coast (est. $20/30,000); James Reynolds’ trio of Native American riders, The Henry (est. $50/75,000); Michael Coleman’s Moraninspired landscape Castle Butte, Green River – Wyoming Territory (est. $30/50,000); and Clark Hulings’ Mexican village scene Puerto Vallarta (est. $125/175,000).
The auction preview will take place at Trailside Galleries in Jackson Hole, before being moved to the Center for the Arts before the two sessions on September 13 and 14.
Carl Rungius (1869-1959), Alaskan Wilderness, oil on canvas, 40¼ x 50¼” Estimate: $400/600,000
gouache on paper, 20⅛ x 29¼” Mark Maggiori, Cowboys at Work, oil on linen, 36 x 36” Estimate: $30/50,000
Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975), Cowboys at Corral, 1931, graphite, watercolor and Estimate: $400/600,000
Logan Maxwell Hagege, The Rising Clouds, oil on linen, 60 x 60” Estimate: $80/120,000
Carl Rungius (1869-1959), A Mountain King, 1907, oil on canvas, 24½ x 32¼” Estimate: $150/250,000