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Sotheby's To Hold Sale of American Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture in New York
Milton Avery, 1945, The Reader and the Listener. Est. $700/900,000. © Sotheby's Images.

NEW YORK.- Sotheby’s sale of American Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture will take place at 10am and 2pm on November 28th. The entire exhibition will be featured on the 10th floor galleries at Sotheby’s New York from November 24th through November 27th. The works in this sale are estimated to sell for $44,990,000/67,820,000. This sale is distinguished by a diverse selection of works by prominent American artists from the 19th and early 20th centuries, including selections of Impressionist works by John Singer Sargent, Guy Wiggins and Childe Hassam; Modernist works, including those by Georgia O’Keeffe and Milton Avery; and Western works of art by Henry F. Farny, Ernest Martin Hennings and Walter Ufer. Two works by Winslow Homer, one of America’s most important watercolorists, will highlight the sale. An extensive selection of works by America’s most important illustrators – Norman Rockwell, N.C. Wyeth, Maxfield Parrish, Joseph C. Leyendecker and Jessie Wilcox Smith – will be featured in a separate catalog, The Art of American Storytelling.

As previously mentioned, Sotheby’s will offer two outstanding watercolors by Winslow Homer. Fishergirls Coiling Tackle, 1881 (lot 8, est. $4/6 million, watercolor on paper), the cover lot for the sale catalog, depicts the fishing village of Cullercoats on the northeastern coast of England, where Homer stayed for nearly two years in the early 1880’s. This sojourn in England ushered in a pivotal change to both his technique and subject matter. In Fishergirls Coiling Tackle, Homer painted two young women in a courtyard, believed to be located outside of the artist’s studio, where village women would regularly work. These strong working women, so vastly different from the delicate, contemplative women Homer painted in America, were the subject of nearly one hundred fifty works during his two-year stay. Also by Winslow Homer, Portrait of a Lady (lot 15, est. $2/3 million) from 1875, depicts a young woman in an elegant white dress, trimmed with a patterned detail and accessorized with a black scarf at her neck, a dark belt at her waist and a black ribbon in her hair. In this watercolor on paper, Homer creates a dense, green background by layering transparent washes of pigment to achieve the dappled green foliage behind the figure.

American Illustrators - This sale will feature a large and varied group of American illustrations, reflecting the growing market interest in this genre. The separate catalog, The Art of American Storytelling, illustrates these works, which include seven Saturday Evening Post magazine covers and a strong selection of work by America’s most popular artists: Norman Rockwell, N.C. Wyeth, Maxfield Parrish, Joseph C. Leyendecker and Jessie Wilcox Smith. The catalog’s cover features Norman Rockwell’s Gary Cooper as “The Texan” (lot 36, est. $1.5/2.5 million) from the May 24, 1930 Saturday Evening Post cover. In The Texan, Rockwell successfully translated the glamour of Hollywood onto canvas. Rockwell completed a number of studies while in Hollywood, but his painting of Gary Cooper is the only one he mentions in his biography. Christmas in the Heart (lot 128, est. $800,000/1.2 million) was painted by Rockwell as an illustration for a January 1941 issue of American Magazine. According to letters from the owner, Rockwell donated this painting as a raffle prize to help raise money for local Arlington charities, and the winning raffle ticket was purchased for twenty-five cents at a fundraiser and street fair in 1942. When Rockwell’s Arlington studio burned down in 1943, many original paintings, drawings and notes were destroyed in the fire, but Rockewell’s generosity had inadvertently insured that Christmas in the Heart survived. Additional illustrations by Rockwell include: The Checkup (lot 70, est. $800,000/1.2 million), Graduation (lot 85, est. $800,000/1.2 million), Christmas: Santa Reading Mail (lot 122, est. $400/600,000) and River Pilot (lot 125, est.$1/1.5 million), which appeared in the September 21, 1940 issue of the Saturday Evening Post as an illustration for an adventure story of the same name by Carl D. Lane. Also being offered is a group of charming illustrations of the stages of childhood by Jessie Wilcox Smith. A highlight is Five O’Clock Tea from 1903 (lot 109, est. $150/250,000). Another great illustrator featured in this sale is N.C. Wyeth, who’s Indian Love Call (lot 39, est. $800,000/1.2 million), was painted in 1927, at the midpoint of the artist’s career as a painter, illustrator and muralist. Between 1920 and 1930, N.C. Wyeth was at the height of his powers. In creating this work, he returned to his formative years and his passion for the Old West and Native American culture. The focal point of Indian Love Call is an Indian brave in his birch bark canoe, who pipes a haunting song to his love as she approaches from the village. This painting was based on a popular song of the time, “Indian Love Call,” by Rudolf Friml with lyrics by Otto Harbach and Oscar Hammerstein.

Strong examples from each generation of the Wyeth family of artists are represented in this sale. Andrew Wyeth’s Sparks (lot 81, est. $2.5/4.5 million), a painting of a fire burning in a fireplace, addresses common themes in Wyeth’s oeuvre, such as memory, nostalgia and loss. Also by Andrew Wyeth are portraits of two of his friends. Turtleneck (lot 119, est. $1/1.5 million), from 1984, depicts Andy Davis, a member of a close knit African American community in Chadds Ford, Wyeth’s hometown. Army Surplus (lot 69, est. $800,000/1.2 million), from 1966, is a watercolor that depicts Willard Snowden, who worked for Andrew Wyeth, relaxing on the snowy bank of the hills of N.C. Wyeth’s orchard in Chadds Ford. In this work, Willard seems as natural a part of the landscape as the earth beneath him. Works by third generation Wyeth artist Jamie Wyeth include Pig and the Train (lot 42, est. $300/500,000) and Winter Pig (lot 106, est. $200/300,000). The strong selection of works by Milton Avery in this sale includes The Reader and the Listener (lot 18, est. $700/900,000). Painted in 1945, The Reader and the Listener modernizes a domestic scene of Avery’s wife Sally and daughter March reading together in their living room. Another highlight by Avery in this sale is Card Game (lot 96, est. $600/800,000) from 1944. By this year, Avery had started to simplify the shapes and detail in his compositions, paring down elements to express the experience of the painting rather than its subject. Woman on Wave (lot 27, est. $300/500,000), from the Collection of Harriet Walker Henderson, from 1948, features a lone figure seated on a rocky edge above the sea, her back to the viewer as she watches an incoming wave break against the shore below.

Bank of America Offerings - Four paintings by distinctive American artists from the Bank of America Art Collection are being sold to benefit New York City Charities, including the Police Athletic League of New York City, The New York Public Library and the New York Restoration Project. The four paintings are: N.C. Wyeth’s Port Clyde, Maine (lot 58, est. $400/600,000), Andrew Wyeth’s The New Table (lot 19, est. $250/350,000), Oscar Berninghaus’ Opening the West (Stagecoach Through the Missouri Hills) (lot 156, est. $150/250,000), and William Trost Richards’ Newport Beach (lot 188, est. $150/250,000). The Genesee County Village and Museum has consigned Thomas Hart Benton’s Menemsha Pond (lot 57, est. $400/600,000), from 1950, which depicts a view of one of Benton’s favorite subjects, Martha’s Vineyard.

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