NEW YORK, NY.- Sothebys
marquee week of fine art auctions in New York concluded on Friday afternoon with the dedicated auction of American Art totaling $44.1 million the highest total for a various-owner auction of American Art at Sothebys since the auction house sold Georgia OKeeffes iconic Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1 in 2014. Over the course of the weeks flagship auctions in New York, Sothebys sales of American Art have raised $76.6 million.
Kayla Carlsen, Head of Sothebys American Art Department, New York, commented: Fridays results showed continued strength across the full scope of the American Art category, from auction record prices for 19thcentury works by Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze and Thomas Moran, to Modern and Contemporary masterworks by Georgia OKeeffe and Edward Hopper. We were thrilled to see such success among a diverse and wide-ranging group of museum quality works drive one of our highest results in recent seasons.
The auction was led by Edward Hoppers autobiographical masterwork Two Comedians, which sold for $12.5 million. Formerly in the collection of Frank and Barbara Sinatra, the 1966 work represents the culmination of Hoppers career, depicting the artist and his wife on stage taking a final bow before turning to walk into the unknown. Jo holds the artists hand, symbolizing their close bond and significant role she played in his life and career.
The strong selection of Western art on offer by iconic names including Thomas Moran, William Robinson Leigh and Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze performed well throughout Fridays sale. The group was topped by Leutze's impressively-scaled Western Emigrant Train Bound for California Across the Plains, Alarmed by Approach of Hostile Indians, which fetched $4.8 million well in excess of its $3.5 million high estimate, and more than double the previous world auction record for the artist. The work was sold to benefit the Dover Free Public Library in Dover, New Jersey, where it has resided since it was gifted to the institution in 1943. Though Leutze was born in Germany in 1816 and spent most of his life living and working there, his paintings of the significant figures and historical events of 18th and 19th century America rank as the most celebrated images of his oeuvre including his iconic image of Washington Crossing the Delaware in the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Works by Moran were led by Big Springs in Yellowstone Park, sold above estimate for $1.9 million. Showcasing his mastery of the medium, the watercolor was commissioned as part of the United States Congresss geological survey of the Yellowstone Territories led by Dr. Ferdinand V. Hayden in the 1870s.
Following Wednesday nights sale of Georgia OKeeffes A Street and Calla Lilies on Red, Fridays American Art auction featured the artists Cottonwood Tree in Spring, which sold for $3.9 million well above its $2.5 million high estimate. Painted in 1943, the work serves as a testament to the deep inspiration OKeeffe found in the American Southwest. Each on offer from the Georgia OKeeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico and sold to benefit its Acquisitions Fund, the three paintings sold last week by OKeeffe together achieved $23.3 million.
Horace Pippins Holy Mountain, I achieved $3.3 million, more than eight times the artists previous auction record of $385,000 which was set by the very same painting in a Sothebys New York auction in 1987. Following the artists honorable discharge from the United States army in WWII, the pastoral work presents an autobiographical scene, with a harmonious foreground contrasted by soldiers marching through the ominous forested background. Reflecting on his personal experiences in WWII and the cultural climate of the period, the work is dated to June 6, 1944, corresponding with D-Day, and further reinforcing the ideological dichotomy between war and peace.