NEW YORK, NY.- Christies
Important American Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture sale achieved a total of $32,358,750, with works by Andrew Wyeth, Mary Cassatt, and Charles Prendergast commanding the highest prices. Two new world auction records were set for American artists Guy Pène Du Bois and John Joseph Boyle, and a second highest price was achieved for a work by Andrew Wyeth.
Eric Widing, Head of American Paintings at Christies noted: Our December 2 sale saw collectors returning to the saleroom to bid with vigor and enthusiasm on many of our top lots. Our sale results were by far the best we have seen in American Art for over a year. Good paintings sold well, and great paintings touched the stratosphere.
The sales top lot, Andrew Wyeths Above The Narrows, achieved $6,914,500 after a protracted bidding competition, which yielded spirited applause in the saleroom. The price is the second highest ever achieved for a painting by Wyeth at auction, further demonstrating Christies continued leadership in the market for works by this celebrated master of American realism. The standing record price was set by Christies in May 2007 with the sale of Ericksons, a 1973 tempera on panel, which sold for $10.3 million.
Above The Narrows depicts the artists teenage son Nicky as a lone figure standing at Bradfords Point, overlooking the St. George River in Maine. Executed with precise detail, the tempera is imbued with stillness and Wyeths characteristic atmosphere of mystery. The painting stands as one of Wyeths most profound and personal meditations.
Other highlights included robust prices across the spectrum of American Art, beginning with an exceptional price for Raphaelle Peales 1815 masterpiece Still Life, which climbed well above its estimate to sell for $842,000. A modern work by Guy Pène du Bois completed in 1932 entitled Third Avenue El, sold for $782,500, setting a new world auction record for the artist.
American Impressionism showed depth and strength, led by Mary Cassatts newly rediscovered masterpiece, Study for Young Mother Sewing, consigned by a French private collection. The richly-hued pastel on paper sold for double its estimate to achieve $2,434,500. A second Cassatt work, Françoise Wearing a Big White Hat, painted circa 1908, also performed well, selling for $842,500.
Among the Western works in the sale, solid prices were achieved for Albert Bierstadts Mountainous Landscape by Moonlight, which achieved $1,142,500. Painted in 1871, the naturalistic night scene is lit by a dramatic combination of reflected moon light and camp fire. Widely exhibited in museums around the U.S., this superb painting was consigned to sale by the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. to benefit the museums Acquisitions Fund. An additional Western highlight was Walter Ufers A Pueblo Well Scene, which achieved $1,142,500. The painting was consigned from the estate of the late American businessman Oscar G. Mayer, who inherited the painting from his father Oscar F. Mayer, an early financial supporter of Ufer and his fellow members of the Taos Society of Artists.
Among the works of sculpture in the sale, the Western artist John Joseph Boyles bronze Indian Capturing an Eagle soared beyond its estimate of $30,00-50,000 to sell for $116,500, setting a new world auction record for a work by the artist.