The salesroom was packed for Freemans American Art & Pennsylvania Impressionists auction. Exceeding expectations the sale realized $4,066,410 million, the highest total for this department at Freemans since its inception in 2013. Drawing a great deal of attention during traveling exhibitions to London, New York and the Philadelphia area, the top lot of the day was Andrew Wyeth's painting "Winter Corn Fields" sold for $1,145,000. This impressive work, rarely seen since in public since its initial acquisition in the early 1940s, had never been brought to auction before.
We are delighted with the results of the sale-our highest total to date and the Wyeth is our first million dollar lot of American Art. There was a buzz in the saleroom and all of our top lots went to private collectors, said Freemans
vice chairman and head of fine art Alasdair Nichol. I am very pleased with the 83% sell through rate which I believe exceeds the recent American Art auctions in New York. These sales continue to attract new clients beyond the assumed American buyer base.
The offerings of works by American Art icons received careful consideration by collectors and institutions alike. Small in size, but rich in color, the dream-like Blue Fountain by Maxfield Parrish was chased after and with the perseverance of a private collector it finally realized $317,000. Another diminutive but significant work was "Study of a Spectator for 'Taking the Count'" by Thomas Eakins. It is an intimate study of an onlooker in Eakins large-scale masterpiece "Taking the Count," part of the Yale University Art Gallery Whitney Collection of Sporting Art. This painting achieved $46,875, doubling its original auction estimate.
Most of the notable lots in the sale, by Wyeth, Parrish and Eakins, are artists with Pennsylvania roots and connections. Following that theme were the Pennsylvania Impressionists Daniel Garber and Edward Redfield. This portion of the auction achieved a total of $1,127,600 and an impressive 89% sell-through. Both of the top works by Garber are cited in the artists catalogue raisonné: The Mary Maxwell House went above its estimate selling for $293,000 (the third highest price in the sale) and Quarries at the Crossing fetched $161,000. Edward Redfields The South Window sold for $93,750. Freeman's is the only auction house with a specialty category dedicated to this collecting genre, and the proven results from past sales of works by these and other Pennsylvania artists has served to reinforce the popularity of the group.
Winter Corn Fields was only one of the works from The Estate of Nancy duPont Reynolds Cooch, childhood friend of Andrew Wyeth and his wife Betsy on offer Sunday. Two other Wyeth works from this estate attracted fierce bidding, Young Buck fetched $125,000, four times its estimate of $30,000-50,000 and Gray Barn brought $65,000.
All three generations of Wyeths were represented in the sale and all achieved results above pre-auction estimates. Jamie Wyeths dry brush and mixed media on paper, Weve Got Your Pickle, enticed competitive bidding, finally selling to a client in the room for $209,000 against a $40,000-60,000 estimate. Works by his grandfather N.C. Wyeth drew similar interest with Country Lane realizing $40,625, A Cavalier sold for $23,400 and the surprise was View of Kelp Beds, Port Clyde fetching $24,700, six times its estimate.
Freemans continued its efforts to reach the best and broadest audience by travelling highlights to New York and London before the exhibition in Philadelphia. This resulted in an increase of bidders and buyers and drew the highest paddle registration for a fine art sale. Collectors from more than 20 countries from Singapore to Switzerland were registered, resulting in a 15% spike in new clients. This is triple the number of new buyers from the past year. The biannual auctions of American Art & Pennsylvania Impressionists have brought almost $16 million in 36 months, cementing Freemans reputation for bringing quality fine American art to auction.