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Sotheby's Autumn Auction of American Art to be held on 29 November 2012 in New York
Theodore Robinson, Correspondence, signed TH. ROBINSON (lower right) oil on canvas, 18 by 22 inches (45.7 by 55.9 cm). Painted in 1895. Est. $1/1.5 million.

NEW YORK, NY.- Sotheby’s annual fall auction of American Art will be held on 29 November 2012 in New York. The sale offers an impressive selection of works by Georgia O’Keeffe and Norman Rockwell, as well as a previously-unknown painting by Thomas Hart Benton and notable pieces spanning from Impressionism to Western art and modern pictures – many of which have remained in private collections for decades. The auction will be on exhibition in Sotheby’s York Avenue galleries beginning 24 November.

A Private Collection of Works by Georgia O’Keeffe
The November auction features an important group of modern paintings and watercolors by Georgia O’Keeffe, which have remained in the same Mid-Atlantic private collection since their acquisition between 1984 and ’92, and represent one of the most significant groups of works by the artist to appear on the market since Sotheby’s landmark auction in 1987 of ten O’Keeffe paintings from her sister, Anita O’Keeffe Young’s estate. The collection is led by two of O’Keeffe’s celebrated flower paintings: Autumn Leaf II, which she created in 1927 during one of her frequent visits to Lake George in New York (est. $1.5/2.5 million*), and the pastel A White Camellia from 1938 that displays the same subtle tonality and attention to detail that characterize her works in oil (est. $1.2/1.8 million). A White Camellia was in the collection of Elizabeth Arden for more than 40 years, and remained with her family until Sotheby’s 1990 auction of the Estate of Patricia Graham Young, Arden’s niece.

The Mid-Atlantic collection also offers three rare watercolors by O’Keeffe, which the artist produced beginning in 1916 upon arriving in Canyon, Texas to teach at the West Texas Normal School. It is these works that led to her first recognition and acclaim in the New York art world. The three examples on offer in November feature The Park at Night (est. $250/350,000), which encapsulates the artist’s undeniably romantic vision of the Texas landscape, and provides particular insight into the origins of her singular aesthetic vocabulary.

Normal Rockwell – American Icon
The American Art auction will offer six works by iconic American artist and illustrator Norman Rockwell. When the Doctor Treats your Child (The Prescription) appeared in the Saturday Evening Post in September 1943, as part of an ad for The Upjohn Company – though the work was completed a full four years earlier (est. $800,000/1.2 million). The artist’s wife posed for the mother figure, who sits with her three children as the older family physician writes their prescriptions. Painted in 1929, Is It Play for Eyes Too? is one of six ‘attic scenes’ done by Rockwell, and appeared as an advertisement for American Optical’s new Tillyer wide angle lenses in the Saturday Evening Post that November (est. $600/800,000). Following Lindbergh’s first solo transatlantic flight in 1927 and Emilia Aerhart’s famous flight in 1928, the composition for Is It Play for Eyes Too? evokes the romantic age of aviation.

The Muscleman from 1941 depicts a young boy and his puppy at the start of their lives together, the quintessential picture of health (est. $600/800,000). And Doctor and Doll from 1942, originally commissioned for an Upjohn ad, shows a kind, caring doctor examining a young girl’s doll in her nursery (est. $500/700,000). Rockwell had produced a similar composition for a Saturday Evening Post cover years earlier, but modernized the present piece by updating the style of the little girl’s clothes and doll.

An Unrecorded Thomas Hart Benton
The long friendship between 20th-century photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt and American painter Thomas Hart Benson was formed when Eisenstaedt began traveling frequently to Martha’s Vineyard, where Benton had a house. Benton created two major paintings of the island in 1954, including the turbulent and evocative Menemsha Hurricane that most likely documents Hurricane Carol, one of two hurricanes to hit the island that year (est. $300/500,000). Eisenstadt acquired the painting directly from the artist and gifted it to the present owner – as a result, the work has never been documented in the scholarship on Benton, and will be on public exhibition for the first time this fall at Sotheby’s.

Impressionist Pictures
Impressionist works in the November auction include pieces by Theodore Robinson and Mary Cassatt. Held privately since the 1940s and not seen in public since 1946, Robinson’s Correspondence shows a young woman floating in her hammock in a lush midsummer landscape, with the West River in Vermont flowing behind her (est. $1/1.5 million). Robinson – best known as a pioneer of American Impressionism – was born in Vermont and trained in both the United States and Giverny, France, blending his experiences into the style for which he is known today. Sketch for “Margot Embracing her Mother” (No. 2) depicts two of Cassatt’s favorite models in the year’s surrounding the turn of the 20th century: Margot Lux and her mother Reine Lefebvre, the artist’s neighbors in the village of Mesnil-Théribus (est. $600/800,000).

Western Art
The selection of Western Art on offer is led by Caravan en Route [Sir William Drummond Stewart’s Caravan] painted circa 1850 by Alfred Jacob Miller (est. $1/1.5 million). The canvas depicts an early stage of an expedition that the Baltimore-based artist joined on commission from Stewart, a retired Captain of the British army and a Scottish nobleman. The caravan of 45 men and 20 carts set out from Independence, Missouri and traveled on what would become the Oregon Trail, on their way to the Rocky Mountains to attend the annual fur trappers’ and traders’ rendezvous. At the center of the composition is Stewart, perched atop his white horse and dressed in a white buckskin suit, recognizable with his distinctive moustache and hook nose.

Property from the Robert Brady Museum Foundation
Over the course of his vibrant life, Robert Brady amassed a vast array of over 1,300 works illustrative of his resolutely inclusive taste for art, ranging from Indian textiles, Oriental rugs, Spanish Colonial paintings and Byzantine mosaics to important works by Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Maurice Prendergast, Milton Avery and Marsden Hartley. Brady’s home in Cuernavaca, Mexico was converted into a museum upon his death in 1986, and the Robert Brady Museum Foundation will offer two works in the American Art auction this November, led by Marsden Hartley’s Popocatépetl (lest. $350/450,000). In her catalogue essay for the work, Gail R. Scott notes that when Hartley received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1931, the requirement was that the fellowship year be spent abroad, and the artist’s country of choice was Mexico. Painted during his time there in 1932-33, Popocatépetl depicts one of Mexico’s tallest mountains and most active volcanoes, southeast of Mexico City, and is one of only four paintings of this motif inspired by the artist’s sojourn in Mexico.

*Pre-sale estimates do not include buyer’s premium.

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