On Sunday Freemans
held its American Art & Pennsylvania Impressionists auction, opening to an overflowing room. Works by some of the most sought after Pennsylvania Impressionists decorated the exhibition space as eager bidders streamed through Freemans doors, leaving staff happily rushing to find extra seating.
Over half of the successful bidders demonstrated a deep interest for the Philadelphia regions market, resulting in an auction that surpassed Freemans last two American Art & Pennsylvania Impressionists sales. Of particular note, was the auctions exceptionally curated group of Pennsylvania Impressionist paintings, which resulted in a 94 percent sell-through rate, further demonstrating this collecting areas evergreen appeal and reaffirming Freemans unrivaled record in this market.
Bidders online presence was palpable as the auction commenced. 221 users participated with just over 20 percent bidding from Freemans new platform, Freemans Live. Whats more, the majority of the sales works were purchased by private buyers.
As an auctioneer there is nothing more thrilling than selling to a packed room, Freemans Chairman Alasdair Nichol said. There was great energy in the bidding and over half the buyers were physically present which always makes for a more lively and exciting sale. This is a rarity in the Internet age but was unsurprising given the extent of foot traffic during our exhibition, one of our best attended in recent memory.
Works by Daniel Garber (American 1880-1958) and Edward Willis Redfield (American 1869-1965) elicited competitive bidding and achieved strong results, while several pieces by Philadelphia native Susette Inloes Schultz Keast (American 1892-1932) greatly exceeded pre-sale estimates.
One of the most influential Pennsylvania impressionists, Daniel Garbers work often reflects landscape scenes along the Delaware River in the idyllic New Hope area. A Jersey Road (Lot 123) from 1929, was painted from atop a hill in Lambertville, New Jersey, looking out over the river toward the artists beloved New Hope. This particular piece garnered acclaim after an exhibition entitled Recent Paintings of Daniel Garber at the Macbeth Gallery in New York in 1931. Nearly 90 years later, A Jersey Road sold on Sunday for $334,000 against an estimate of $200,000-300,000.
Edward Willis Redfield, another Pennsylvania Impressionist, was known for his powerful landscape paintings, which he almost exclusively executed en plein air. The Snow Storm (Lot 110) was painted near the artists home in 1915 and its style is typical for Redfield. The sparse palette masterfully renders the quietness of this winter moment, and carefully placed splashes of color animate the scene. The Snow Storm achieved $187,000, over $30,000 above its high estimate.
Susette Inloes Schultz Keast (American 1892-1932) was represented on Sunday with several fresh-to-market pieces, consigned by the artists granddaughter.
Keast studied painting at what is now Moore College of Art & Design and later at The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA). Along with Fern Coppedge, Keast was a part of the Philadelphia Ten, a group of female artists who exhibited their work independently after being barred from many public institutions based on their gender. The Inner Harbor (Lot 131), was executed in 1931 and was purchased by a private collector. The painting set a new auction record, nearly doubling the previous record set at Freemans in 2005, selling for an impressive $40,625nearly four times its high estimate. Houses by the River (Lot 132) also exceeded expectations selling for an impressive $16,250 against an estimate of $2,500-4,000.
Perhaps one of the most iconic (and fun) pieces of American Art from Sundays auction is entitled Reading is Fun! by famed childrens author and illustrator, Maurice Sendak (American 1928-2012). The watercolor depicts the characters of Sendaks popular Where the Wild Things Are reading and devouring stacks of iconic childrens literature. The whimsical work featuring Max, Moishe and Bernard was commissioned for the 1979 International Year of the Child campaign by then-First Lady Rosalyn Carter. Reading is Fun! exceeded its estimate, selling for $62,500.
I was very encouraged by the number of new private bidders at Freemans, with some spending well into six figures, Nichol continued. This bodes extremely well and indicates a strong, vital market at auction particularly for Pennsylvania Impressionists. We will build on this momentum and anticipate an exciting new year of sales in 2018.