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20th century masterworks lead Christie's Sale of American Art on May 22
Milton Avery (1885-1965), Siesta, signed and dated 'Milton Avery 1946-47' (lower right). Oil on canvas, 30 x 40 in. (76.2 x 101.6 cm.). Estimate: $1,000,000 – $1,500,000. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd 2014.
NEW YORK, NY.- Christie’s spring sale of American Art on May 22 will offer total of 172 lots, with outstanding works of from a range of styles and genres, including Illustration, Modernism, Western Art, Nineteenth Century and American Impressionism. This fantastic array of masterworks is led by Norman Rockwell’s The Rookie (Red Sox Locker Room) and Thomas Moran’s The Grand Canyon of the Colorado. The sale, which prominently features six works from the renowned collection of Edgar M. Bronfman, is expected to realize in excess of $65.7 million, the highest estimate ever for the category at Christie’s.

The Rookie (Red Sox Locker Room) by Norman Rockwell (estimate: $20,000,000-30,000,000), which has never been offered at auction, was painted in 1957 for the March 2nd cover of The Saturday Evening Post and has remained in the same private collection for nearly thirty years. It has been publicly exhibited at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston twice–once in 2005 and again in 2008–following World Series victories by the Red Sox. In addition to The Rookie (Red Sox Locker Room), ten other works by Norman Rockwell will be offered in the sale, including The Collector (estimate: $700,000-1,000,000), Boy Graduate (estimate: $2,000,000- 3,000,000) and Willie Gillis in Church (estimate: $2,000,000-3,000,000).

Thomas Moran’s The Grand Canyon of the Colorado (estimate: $8,000,000-12,000,000) is also among the top lots of the sale. Painted in 1904, the work is one of Moran’s most ambitious oils of the subject from the period. This canvas presents an awe-inspiring panorama and manifests Moran’s romantic and inspirational vision of the American West. The Grand Canyon of the Colorado, which has been exhibited at both the Royal Academy in London and the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., has not been offered for sale in over two decades.

Coast Guard Boat I’s detail and emphasis on light, embodies Edward Hopper's aesthetic from the summer of 1929, as the majority of his work from the period was in watercolor (estimate: $1,000,000-1,500,000). Hopper preferred to use watercolor for his New England works as this medium was conducive to working en plein air and provided him a freedom not afforded by oil paint. As is the case with Coast Guard Boat I, Hopper often used water in his work as a means of introducing an element of motion into a scene that is otherwise dominated by stillness. The beauty of Coast Guard Boat I lies in the contradiction between weightlessness and heft, motion and stillness. This tension is echoed by the ropes, which tether the boat to the shore. At once wanting to be of the sea yet firmly harnessed creates a sense of restlessness and even agitation to the otherwise serene, idyllic image.

A breadth of works from the Estate of Edgar M. Bronfman, the exalted businessman and humanitarian, will be offered across several sale categories this season at Christie’s. A visionary businessman and unyielding advocate for world Jewry, Mr. Bronfman translated his tremendous success at the Seagram Company into a decades-long journey in philanthropy, dedicating himself to promoting a “Jewish renaissance” whose effects continue to be felt to this day. Milton Avery’s The Mandolin Player (estimate: $800,000-1,200,000) is just one of the six works from his collection to be included in the sale of American Art. The highly saturated palette of greens, blues, oranges and pinks is representative of Avery’s works from the mid-1940s, as is his rendering of expressive figures through a contained, plastic two-dimensional design. Also from the Estate of Edgar M. Bronfman is George Inness’s Summer, Montclair (estimate: $600,000-800,000) and Mary Cassatt’s Girl in a Hat with a Black Ribbon (estimate: $400,000-600,000). For the complete press release on this collection.

Childe Hassam's stunning Impressionist work, Evening in the Rain, (estimate: $1,000,000-1,500,000) captures a picturesque moment on a rain drenched sidewalk of lower Fifth Avenue. Hassam's passion for capturing the cityscapes that surrounded him immediately found direct expression in the works he produced, and critics quickly came to associate him with New York. In order to capture the ever- changing scenes around him, Hassam often executed quick sketches while seated in a cab or standing on the street. From the vantage point of the viewer, it seems entirely likely that Hassam sketched the composition for Evening in the Rain while out on one of his many jaunts around the city. The work includes all of the hallmarks of Hassam's celebrated works from the 1890s. Reflecting his fascination with his urban surroundings and the people that he encountered, Hassam pays homage to the city and captures the spirit of the end of the century in New York.

Hailing directly from a descendant of the sitter, John Singer Sargent’s Mrs. William George Raphael (estimate: $4,000,000-6,000,000) was painted in London in 1906 at the height of Sargent’s unparalleled level of success and when he had reached a mastery of his craft. Mrs. William George Raphael is a grandiose and engaging painting that is a masterwork of Sargent's later portraits. Following Sargent's enormous success in the United Kingdom and the United States by 1900, the artist had gained international celebrity and his clientele expanded upward from the high bourgeoisie to the aristocratic who now sought to have their image captured by the top portraitist of the Gilded Age. As is typical in Sargent's best portraits, Mrs. William George Raphael conveys the sitter's character as a forceful presence, combined with a quality of elegance and social ease.

On June 18, Christie’s will host the sale An American Dynasty: The Clark Family Treasures, which will offer collectors of American Art another opportunity this season to acquire fresh-to-the-market works of exquisite provenance. Among the examples included in the sale are John Singer Sargent’s Girl Fishing (estimate: $3,000,000-5,000,000) and William Merritt Chase’s A Water Fountain in Prospect Park (estimate: $500,000-700,000), which was a gift to Senator W.A. Clark from the artist.

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