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Sotheby's Sporting Sale: Equestrian, Wildlife, and Maritime Art
Property from the Gelb Family Colleciton , New York, Sir Alfred J. Munnings, P.R. A., The Start, Newmarket, Oil on panel, Est. $800,000/1.2 million. © Sotheby's Images.

NEW YORK, NY.- On November 29, 2007 Sotheby’s New York will offer for sale important paintings and sculpture of equestrian, wildlife, prize livestock, hunting, racing and maritime subjects. Several great works by Sir Alfred J. Munnings will highlight the sale, as well as an extraordinary selection of maritime works by Montague Dawson, and a recently rediscovered work by Edward Troye. The sale also features a great selection of wildlife paintings by 19th century renowned French painter Rosa Bonheur and celebrated 20th century American artist Bob Kuhn. Estimated to bring $8/11.7 million, the paintings and sculpture will be on exhibition in Sotheby’s third floor galleries from November 24 through November 28, 2007.

Highlighting the Sporting Sale is The Start, Newmarket by Sir Alfred J. Munnings, the most important equine artist of the 20th century (lot 113, $800/1.2 million). In this work, Munnings closely focused on a small field of horses rearing up or pawing the ground as their jockeys carefully worked them into a line for the starting signal of a race on the artist’s favorite course, the open heath lands of Newmarket. Other works by the artist included in the sale are three works from the Collection of Andrew Lloyd Webber: The Gypsy Encampment (Hop-Pickers’ Fires) (lot 114, est. $300/500,000); Hop Pickers (The Costume Picture) (lot 115, est. $400/600,000); and The Carousel (lot 116, est. $400/600,000).

A recently rediscovered painting by the American sporting artist Edward Troye, Colonel Virgil Gardener and His Huntsman (lot 56, est. $200/300,000, 61 ½ by 86 in.), is one of Troye’s largest works and the only one known today to feature a hunting theme. Troye painted the present work in 1855, on Colonel Gardener’s cotton plantation in central Alabama. Born in Georgia in 1801, Colonel Virgil H. Gardener inherited his father’s large land holdings at the juncture of Mulberry Creek and the Alabama River, roughly 150 miles upriver from Mobile, in 1826. Gardner built an especially successful cotton and pine plantation and erected a grand home, Riverdale, which still stands, although it has been moved to a nearby site. Edward Troye was America’s premiere painter of thoroughbred horses and prize livestock during the mid-nineteenth century, and in 1849, the artist accepted a teaching post at Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama. For the next six years, Troye’s work was more narrowly focused on the greater Mobile and New Orleans region, and his oeuvre is marked by an important step into portraiture – although those portraits are nearly always built around themes of horses, pony carts, or an occasional donkey. The present hunting portrait was completed during the last months of Troye’s tenure as a drawing professor, just before the artist accepted an invitation to travel with a Kentucky patron on a horse buying tour of Europe and the Middle East.

Among the wildlife works included in the sale is Tiger, (lot 26, est. $50/70,000), from 1990, by Bob Kuhn, one of America’s most popular wildlife painters, who passed away this year. Throughout his career, Kuhn was devoted to capturing the essential spirit and character of the animals in his artwork, built of tactile surfaces, expressive brushwork and evocative color. The back cover of the sale catalog features another of Kuhn’s works, Nonook, a powerful rendering of a polar bear (lot 1, est. $40/60,000), from 1990.

The maritime offerings in this sale include two monumental compositions by Montague Dawson: The Gallant Privateer the U.S.S. Rattlesnake (lot 209, est. $400/500,000) and The Pirates Cove, Wafer Bay, Cocos Islands (lot 208, est. $350/500,000). Montague Dawson was born into an artistic family in London in 1895. He was taught from an early age by his father, a Thames yachtsman and artist, and his grandfather Henry Dawson, a successful landscape painter. Montague Dawson would become perhaps the best known and most successful marine artist of his generation.

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