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Sotheby's Sale of American Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture Sets Record for 14 Artists
Stuart Davis, Rialto. 12 by 16 in. oil on board. Photo: Courtesy of Sotheby's.

NEW YORK.- Today at Sotheby’s, in a full sales room with spirited and lively bidding, the spring sale of American Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture brought a total of $87,006,200 (est. $52,615,000), the second highest total ever for a sale of American Paintings. Seventeen works sold for over $1 million, three of which sold for over $5 million. Fourteen artist records at auction were set for artists including Edward Hicks, William Merritt Chase, Frederick Remington, William Sidney Mount, Charles Caryl Coleman and Thomas Birch.

Dara Mitchell, Executive Vice President and Director of the American Paintings Department, said, “Today was a great day. The total of $87 million was the second highest total for any American Paintings sale. We saw great depth in the bidding at the top end, indicating a market that is hungry for high quality works. We were fortunate to offer several Estates with property that has not been seen on the market for a very long time.”

Highlighting today’s sale was a masterpiece of American 19th century painting, The Peaceable Kingdom with the Leopard of Serenity, which sold to applause for $9,673,000 (lot 60, est. $6/8 million), setting a record for a work of American Folk Art at auction and a record for the artist at auction. This is also the highest price paid for a work of Americana at Sotheby’s and the second highest price paid for a work of Americana at auction. Bidding for this work continued for more than five minutes, with competition from three bidders on the phone. This iconic work, circa 1846- 1848, is arguably one of the most important and beautifully preserved examples of the more than sixty-two versions of this profound subject painted by the artist.

Nancy Druckman, Senior Vice President and Director of the Folk Art Department, said, “We are jubilant and ecstatic about today’s results. It has been a great joy and a highlight of my professional career to work with this extraordinary painting.”

An artist record at auction was set today for William Merritt Chase, whose work I Think I Am Ready Now (The Mirror, The Pink Dress), circa 1883, from The Collection of Gilbert A. and Anne B. Harrison achieved $6,649,000 (lot 48, est. $1.5/2.5 million). The previous record for this artist, $3,962,500, was achieved in May of 1993 at Sotheby’s New York.

A group of ten bronze sculptures, including eight by Frederic Remington, offered by an American Collector Being Sold to Benefit a Charitable Foundation, brought a total of $11,616,600. The highlight was The Wounded Bunkie, cast Letter G, which realized $5,641,000 (lot 171, est. $3/5 million), a record for the artist at auction in any medium. Another of these Remington bronzes, The Outlaw, number one of fifteen lifetime casts, sold for $3,401,000 (lot 167, est. $2/3 million).

Highlighting The Collection of Gilbert A. and Anne B. Harrison was Paris, Winter Day by Childe Hassam, which sold for $3,961,000 (lot 51, est. $2.5/3.5 million). Another work by Hassam, Rooftops, Pont-Aven, Brittany also exceeded its estimate, fetching $1,161,000 (lot 52, est. $400/600,000). From A Distinguished Private Collection, Flower Garden, Isles of Shoals by Hassam brought $2,505,000 (lot 30, est. $1/1.5 million), indicating the strength in the market for this artist.

Works by the American Modernist Stuart Davis included The Music Hall from 1910, which achieved $2,841,000 (lot 45, est. $500/700,000). Offerings from The Raymond and Patsy Nasher Collection of Dallas, Texas included three works by Davis: Rialto, 1962, sold for $629,000 (lot 111, est. $500/700,000); Fortap, from 1933, brought $825,000 (lot 115, est. $400/600,000); and Composition with Winch, from 1932, sold for $825,000 (lot 123, est. $300/500,000).

Additionally, a record was set for William Sidney Mount for The Ramblers, Property from the Ruth Mason Shunk Trust, which sold for $2,281,000 (lot 71, est. $2/3 million). This work has remained in private hands since 1847, the year it was painted. The previous record for this artist at auction was $398,500, achieved at Sotheby’s New York in December of 1998.

An artist record was also set today for Charles Caryl Coleman for his painting Azaelas and Apple Blossoms from A Distinguished Private Collection, which brought $2,281,000, more than three times its high estimate (lot 24, est. $500/700,000).

Another highlight from The Harrison Estate was The Model by Thomas Eakins, which sold for $1,273,000 (lot 53, est. $700/900,000). Also by Eakins, Rear Admiral Charles Dwight Sigsbee from the Collection of J. Welles Henderson, brought $1,945,000 (est. $700/900,000). Also from The Henderson Collection, a record for an artist at auction was set for Thomas Birch, whose USS United States vs. HMS Macedonian sold for $481,000 (lot 35, est. $125/175,000).

Property from the Estate of Barbara Bingham Moore, an esteemed Washington, D.C. collector, was highlighted by Martin Johnson Heade’s Two “Thorn-Tails” (Langsdorffs Thorn-Tail, Brazil), circa 1864-1865, which soared by its high estimate to sell for $1,385,000 to a bidder on the phone (lot 5, est. $300/500,000).

Additional artist records were set for Blanche Lazzell, Painting XI, $505,000 (lot 113, est. $100/150,000); Edmonia Lewis, The Old Arrow Maker, $301,000 (lot 69, est. $70/100,000); Francis Coates Jones, Fishing Along the River Bank, $181,000 (lot 145,, est. $50/75,000); Rubins Peale, From Nature in the Garden, $145,000 (lot 2, est. $60/80,000); Margaretta Angelica Peale, Melon, Cherries and Plums, $91,000 (lot 8, est. $50/75,000); E. William Gollings, Roper, $169,000 (lot 174, est. $80/120,000); Ray Swanson, Headin’ Through Dry Country, $97,000 (lot 212, est. $30/50,000); and Maria Peale, $40,000 (lot 16, est. 30/50,000);

A large and varied selection of Western art, including the aforementioned Remington bronze sculptures, was highly sought after. This selection, comprising lots 155 – 214, brought a total of $22,653,200 (est. $14,440,000 / 21,840,000). A highlight, from The Collection of Mr. and Mrs. George Fenimore Johnson, was Charles Marion Russell’s Roping a Wolf, which sold for $1,077,000 (lot 161, est. $700/900,000).

The Western Art offerings also included works from The Collection of R. Michael Kammerer. From this collection, Gift from Cochiti, 1936, by Joseph Henry Sharp brought $1,385,000 (lot 190, est. $900,000/1.2 million) and The Arrow Maker by E. Irving Couse fetched $565,000 (est. $250/350,000).

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