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Western artist C.M. Russell's 'Spirited Chase' heads Bonhams' California Paintings auction
C. M. Russell "The Chase". Est. $250,000-350,000. Photo: Courtesy of Bonhams.

LOS ANGELES, CA.- Bonhams is celebrating just in time for Native American Heritage Month by offering an exceptional Charles Marion Russell work entitled “The Chase” (Indian on a white horse shooting a buffalo) in its upcoming California and Western Paintings & Sculpture auction on November 24, to be held at its Los Angeles sale room. With an estimate of $250,000-350,000, the piece illustrates a dynamic scene captured in Western paintings − the close, life-like and energetic movement of a buffalo hunt. Russell, also known as “Kid” Russell, was an artist of the “Old American West.” He had a unique talent for capturing the scenes of the Wild West and had a great admiration of Native American life, the subject of which he captures in many of his paintings. Other top Western works featured in the sale include Joseph Henry Sharp’s “Resting in the shade, Taos” (est. $50,000-70,000) and Bert Geer Phillips’ “The call of spring” (est. $60,000-80,000).

The auction continues with top quality works by major California plein air painters such as Granville Redmond, John Marshall Gamble, Edgar Payne, Thomas Hill and William Wendt. Of particular interest to collectors of the California landscape is Redmond’s “California wildflowers” (est. $150,000-250,000).

Also included in the sale are three notable portraits of lovely female subjects: “The rustic gate” by Colin Campbell Cooper (est. $70,000-90,000), “The red shawl” by Joseph Kleitsch (est. $70,000-90,000) and Donna Schuster’s “Girl with mirror” (est. $40,000-60,000). It is rare to feature three top quality figurative works by plein air painters best known for their landscape paintings. All three come from an important Southern California institution.

An exciting offering of a rare single-owner collection, the Gordon and Constance Fish Family Trust of Pasadena, California consists of a carefully selected 57-lot group of Southern California and Western paintings. Included is a piece by one of the few successful female California plein air painters, E. Charlton Fortune. Her work titled “Sunny morning, St. Tropez,” a rendering of the famed French holiday region, has an estimate of $60,000-80,000 and explodes with a warm array of impressionist color. As a young couple, Mr. and Mrs. Fish developed a love for Californian painters. Over many years, the Fish family assembled an impressive collection that adorned their stately home on Lombardy Road in Pasadena. Beyond their passion for collecting, they also strongly supported the fine arts and were engaged members of many Los Angeles museums, which included Mr. Fish’s role for numerous years as an Overseer for the Huntington Library.

A curiously noteworthy item in the auction is a charcoal and white chalk on paper work by John Ebert titled, “Miners court” (est. $10,000-20,000). The Frontier West was rife with mining communities, and with no official court to help settle arguments, the miners court emerged to help retain order and decide upon punishments. This particular scene depicts a crowded and tension-filled moment where one aggrieved party has drawn a pistol to make his point.

Commenting on the sale, Bonhams' Fine Art Director in Los Angeles Scot Levitt says, “We are pleased to begin this auction with such fine paintings from the Fish Estate. It is an exceptional group of landscapes and I am sure that it will generate much pre-sale buzz. The auction is also filled with a large number of exceptionally high quality works. At a time when the search for great collectibles in all areas is so challenging, we are so grateful to be uncovering such great pictures. We encourage everyone to take a look and experience this marvelous collection of California and Western paintings and sculpture.”

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