Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, catalog photos courtesy of Heritage Auctions
DALLAS – Heritage Auctions American Art Director Aviva Lehmann described the May 7 American Art Sale as “a perfect moment in American art. We have had great examples in all categories and all awards and have seen interest and strength in all areas. This is the third sale we have had during the pandemic and each has exceeded our expectations, and I am delighted to see new bidders and buyers. “
This was a rare moment of underestimation considering that the sale made $ 10,780,250, compared to an overall low / high estimate of $ 3,785,500 / $ 5,751,500, and sold at 98%. Batch. Several of the top lots had many bidders, including clients new to Heritage.
The first lot of the sale handily beat all the contenders for Best Show and set a new auction record for its artist, Joseph Christian Leyendecker (American, 1874-1951). “Beat-up Boy, Football Hero” sold for $ 4,121,250, leaving not only his estimate of $ 150 / 250,000 in the dust, but also the previous world record of $ 516,100, which had been set. by Sotheby’s in December 2020 for “Carousel Ride”.
Leyendecker’s scenes of children are considered among the finest of his work, which included more than 300 covers for the Saturday night message, a role he has filled before – and paved the way for – fellow illustrator Norman Rockwell. ‘Beat-up Boy, Football Hero’, made in 1914, illustrates Leyendecker’s ability to tell a story using just one character, in this case a provocative and precocious young boy after a football game.
The paint had resided in a family for almost 100 years and was on its original stretcher, never having been relined. A copy of the November 21, 1914 issue of the Saturday night message including the work on its cover accompanied the lot. Twelve bidders created a fray with one of them, a private American collector who bid over the phone, coming out victorious.
Norman Rockwell (American, 1894-1978) “Excuse me! (Soldier Escorting Woman) ”took the second highest price in the sale when it was knocked down for $ 543,000. The paint was one of six covers that Rockwell painted for Judge magazine and the award achieved sets the record for one of its Judge covers. Made in 1917, the painting shows a young woman dressed in her best Sunday clothes on the arm of a dashing young soldier as she walks away from a suitor. Rockwell’s message is clear: she chose the soldier over the civilian, an image that further reinforces the idea that Americans are supporting their troops, in any way they can. The painting was originally sold at a Liberty Bond auction to raise funds for WWI.
Heritage visited a number of paintings in his New York gallery prior to the Dallas auction, and Thomas Moran (American, 1837-1926) “A Mountain of Loadstone – Arabian Nights” from 1898 was “one of the stars” , according to Lehmann. “With Moran, we think of his first landscapes but he also made these fantastic seascapes reminiscent of JMW Turner.” One of a group of works from an estate in Palm Beach, Florida, the Moran had extensive provenance that could be attributed directly to the artist. Nine competitors pushed the bid up to $ 375,000, well above its estimate of $ 150 / 250,000.
Another work that visited New York City was “Mount St Helens, Columbia River, Oregon” by Albert Bierstadt. Produced in 1880, the oil on canvas belonged to the collection of Western art collector LD “Brink” Brinkman and will be included in the next catalog raisonné. With four bidders vying, it nearly doubled its high estimate and topped it at $ 350,000.
Ten bidders competed for “Santa Maria della Salute” by John Singer Sargent (American, 1856-1925), which the artist produced in 1904 in watercolor and pencil on paper. It is described in the catalog as “an exciting new addition to the artist’s dozen of known works recording the facade of the majestic Baroque church located at the entrance to the city’s Grand Canal” and will also be added to the base of data from the current catalog raisonné. He made $ 250,000, more than double his high estimate.
A hauntingly beautiful, albeit austere, watercolor of the Finnish Congregational Church and Rectory on St George Road in South Thomaston, Maine, by Andrew Wyeth was one of two works by the artist on sale and brought his high estimate, $ 250,000. Wyeth’s other work – “Hill Orchard” – was also a watercolor and made $ 112,500 against an estimate of $ 80/120,000.
Sometimes it’s detrimental for an auction to feature multiple works by the same artist, but Heritage has defied this tradition by offering six distinctly different works by Birger Sandzén. Prices ranged from $ 68,750 for 1929 “Sunset, Logan, Utah” to $ 225,000 paid for the 1930 work “Aspens, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado”. Heritage holds the current record for a work by the Swedish American artist and Lehmann said the artist is “a natural fit for us because we are based in Texas and that was his region. We knew that we had a solid clientele and that we could offer several. All of them exceeded their estimates.
Heritage Auctions’ presence in the collectible sporting goods market makes it a logical place to sell the works of LeRoy Neiman (American, 1921-2012), which first appeared regularly in Playboy magazine, where they represented male culture in sporting events and social activities. “Roulette Table at Vegas” attracted the interest of 15 bidders and grossed $ 200,000; this is the highest price achieved for eight paintings and drawings by the artist at the time of the sale.
“With Rockwell and Leyendecker doing so well, it elevates the market for secondary or more obscure artists,” said Lehmann, speaking in reference to a work called “The Seige” by Eugene Iverd (American, 1893-1936) , which was the cover of the January 15, 1927 issue of The Saturday night message. The artist’s previous record was $ 12,500 and Lehmann had estimated the oil on canvas at $ 4/6,000, but 18 bidders pushed it to $ 162,500.
The sculpture was a small part of the sale but attracted high prices nonetheless. Two bird bronzes that Paul Manship had made for the Bronx Zoo – from a larger order of ten – were consigned by a descendant of the artist and each was offered at $ 20 / 30,000. ” Shoebill Stork “climbed to $ 81,250, while” Goliath Heron “soared to $ 52,500. One of Lehmann’s favorite pieces in the sale was “Wounded Comrade” by sculptor Carl Ethan Akeley (American, 1864-1926), who was also a taxidermist, environmentalist, biologist and photographer whose sculptures can still be seen in the Akeley African Hall of Mammals. at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. “Wounded Comrade” was designed in 1913 but sunk a year after Akeley’s death by his widow, Mary. The work was subsequently acquired by Tiffany & Co., where it was purchased by the Perkins family of Lee, Mass., Who owned it until this sale.
Heritage Auctions’ next American art sale is scheduled for November 5.
Prices shown include buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house.
For more information, visit www.ha.com.