NEW YORK, NY.- Sothebys
annual fall auction of American Art will be held on 29 November 2012 in New York. The sale offers an impressive selection of works by Georgia OKeeffe and Norman Rockwell, as well as a previously-unknown painting by Thomas Hart Benton and notable pieces spanning from Impressionism to Western art and modern pictures many of which have remained in private collections for decades. The auction will be on exhibition in Sothebys York Avenue galleries beginning 24 November.
A Private Collection of Works by Georgia OKeeffe
The November auction features an important group of modern paintings and watercolors by Georgia OKeeffe, which have remained in the same Mid-Atlantic private collection since their acquisition between 1984 and 92, and represent one of the most significant groups of works by the artist to appear on the market since Sothebys landmark auction in 1987 of ten OKeeffe paintings from her sister, Anita OKeeffe Youngs estate. The collection is led by two of OKeeffes celebrated flower paintings: Autumn Leaf II, which she created in 1927 during one of her frequent visits to Lake George in New York (est. $1.5/2.5 million*), and the pastel A White Camellia from 1938 that displays the same subtle tonality and attention to detail that characterize her works in oil (est. $1.2/1.8 million). A White Camellia was in the collection of Elizabeth Arden for more than 40 years, and remained with her family until Sothebys 1990 auction of the Estate of Patricia Graham Young, Ardens niece.
The Mid-Atlantic collection also offers three rare watercolors by OKeeffe, which the artist produced beginning in 1916 upon arriving in Canyon, Texas to teach at the West Texas Normal School. It is these works that led to her first recognition and acclaim in the New York art world. The three examples on offer in November feature The Park at Night (est. $250/350,000), which encapsulates the artists undeniably romantic vision of the Texas landscape, and provides particular insight into the origins of her singular aesthetic vocabulary.
Normal Rockwell American Icon
The American Art auction will offer six works by iconic American artist and illustrator Norman Rockwell. When the Doctor Treats your Child (The Prescription) appeared in the Saturday Evening Post in September 1943, as part of an ad for The Upjohn Company though the work was completed a full four years earlier (est. $800,000/1.2 million). The artists wife posed for the mother figure, who sits with her three children as the older family physician writes their prescriptions. Painted in 1929, Is It Play for Eyes Too? is one of six attic scenes done by Rockwell, and appeared as an advertisement for American Opticals new Tillyer wide angle lenses in the Saturday Evening Post that November (est. $600/800,000). Following Lindberghs first solo transatlantic flight in 1927 and Emilia Aerharts famous flight in 1928, the composition for Is It Play for Eyes Too? evokes the romantic age of aviation.
The Muscleman from 1941 depicts a young boy and his puppy at the start of their lives together, the quintessential picture of health (est. $600/800,000). And Doctor and Doll from 1942, originally commissioned for an Upjohn ad, shows a kind, caring doctor examining a young girls doll in her nursery (est. $500/700,000). Rockwell had produced a similar composition for a Saturday Evening Post cover years earlier, but modernized the present piece by updating the style of the little girls clothes and doll.
An Unrecorded Thomas Hart Benton
The long friendship between 20th-century photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt and American painter Thomas Hart Benson was formed when Eisenstaedt began traveling frequently to Marthas Vineyard, where Benton had a house. Benton created two major paintings of the island in 1954, including the turbulent and evocative Menemsha Hurricane that most likely documents Hurricane Carol, one of two hurricanes to hit the island that year (est. $300/500,000). Eisenstadt acquired the painting directly from the artist and gifted it to the present owner as a result, the work has never been documented in the scholarship on Benton, and will be on public exhibition for the first time this fall at Sothebys.
Impressionist works in the November auction include pieces by Theodore Robinson and Mary Cassatt. Held privately since the 1940s and not seen in public since 1946, Robinsons Correspondence shows a young woman floating in her hammock in a lush midsummer landscape, with the West River in Vermont flowing behind her (est. $1/1.5 million). Robinson best known as a pioneer of American Impressionism was born in Vermont and trained in both the United States and Giverny, France, blending his experiences into the style for which he is known today. Sketch for Margot Embracing her Mother (No. 2) depicts two of Cassatts favorite models in the years surrounding the turn of the 20th century: Margot Lux and her mother Reine Lefebvre, the artists neighbors in the village of Mesnil-Théribus (est. $600/800,000).
The selection of Western Art on offer is led by Caravan en Route [Sir William Drummond Stewarts Caravan] painted circa 1850 by Alfred Jacob Miller (est. $1/1.5 million). The canvas depicts an early stage of an expedition that the Baltimore-based artist joined on commission from Stewart, a retired Captain of the British army and a Scottish nobleman. The caravan of 45 men and 20 carts set out from Independence, Missouri and traveled on what would become the Oregon Trail, on their way to the Rocky Mountains to attend the annual fur trappers and traders rendezvous. At the center of the composition is Stewart, perched atop his white horse and dressed in a white buckskin suit, recognizable with his distinctive moustache and hook nose.
Property from the Robert Brady Museum Foundation
Over the course of his vibrant life, Robert Brady amassed a vast array of over 1,300 works illustrative of his resolutely inclusive taste for art, ranging from Indian textiles, Oriental rugs, Spanish Colonial paintings and Byzantine mosaics to important works by Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Maurice Prendergast, Milton Avery and Marsden Hartley. Bradys home in Cuernavaca, Mexico was converted into a museum upon his death in 1986, and the Robert Brady Museum Foundation will offer two works in the American Art auction this November, led by Marsden Hartleys Popocatépetl (lest. $350/450,000). In her catalogue essay for the work, Gail R. Scott notes that when Hartley received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1931, the requirement was that the fellowship year be spent abroad, and the artists country of choice was Mexico. Painted during his time there in 1932-33, Popocatépetl depicts one of Mexicos tallest mountains and most active volcanoes, southeast of Mexico City, and is one of only four paintings of this motif inspired by the artists sojourn in Mexico.
*Pre-sale estimates do not include buyers premium.