Saturday, September 13, 2014

Sotheby's: Rothko, Diebenkorn, Homer, Hopper, Seurat, Picasso, Pissarro

Sotheby's has announced details of its November 2014 sales series comprising the extraordinary collection of the late Rachel Lambert Mellon.

The auctions will commence on 10 November with an evening sale dedicated to a curated selection of Mrs. Mellon’s fine art, which encapsulates her sophisticated eye and approach to collecting. The pieces on offer in the Masterworks auction span four centuries.

The Masterworks auction is led by

Mark Rothko’s Untitled (Yellow, Orange, Yellow, Light Orange) from 1955, 

which captures the ephemeral magic of daybreak (est. $20/30 million). The work belongs to the most pivotal moment in the artist’s career -- he painted only 22 works in this pinnacle year, 13 of which reside in prestigious museum collections. The collection also offers Rothko’s Untitled from 1970, classified as the penultimate painting in the artist’s prodigious oeuvre (est. $15/20 million). Both works have remained in the Mellons’ collection for more than 40 years.

The 10 November sale offers three monumental canvases from Richard Diebenkorn’s famed Ocean Park series, each acquired by the Mellons in the 1970s shortly after they were created. 

Not quite corporeal but not entirely abstract, the dazzling 

Ocean Park #61 engulfs the viewer with spectacular color, form and texture (left, est. $8/12 million). Executed in 1975 and acquired the same year, 

Ocean Park #89 conjures the warm, atmospheric haze of an early evening dusk (est. $8/12 million). 

And Ocean Park #50 from 1972 marks a transformative moment in the series, following an evolution in the tenor of the paintings thatbegan to take hold in 1971 (est. $7/9 million).

Old Master paintings and drawings from the collection are led by 
Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder’s Still Life (est. $3/4 million).  Here is a similar work:

Ambrosius Bosschaert Still-Life with flowers Oil on Copper

Mrs. Mrs. Mellon’s collection of American art includes works by Winslow Homer, Georgia O’Keeffe and Edward Hopper. 

Homer executed his oil sketch 

Children on the Beach in 1873, 

during his first visit to the busy fishing port of Gloucester, Massachusetts where he explored the subject of children at play in numerous works (left, est. $3/5 million). 

O’Keeffe painted 
White Barn during a 1932 trip to the Gaspé Peninsula in eastern Canada (est. $1.5/2.5 million). Although the barn was a motif O’Keeffe explored at numerous times in her career, the present example is remarkable for its strikingly-minimalist aesthetic. 

 A siimilar work from the visit is at  The Metropolitan Museum of Art,:

White Canadian Barn II, 1932
Georgia O'Keeffe (American, 1887–1986)
Oil on canvas; 12 x 30 in. (30.5 x 76.2 cm)
Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1964 (64.310)
© 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Following the purchase of his first car, Hopper created  
Coast Guard Cove during his second visit to the village of Two Lights in Cape Elizabeth, Maine in 1929 (est. $1/1.5 million). The majority of the works Hopper completed during this period were executed in watercolor, a medium that allowed him to accurately capture the fleeting qualities of light and shadow on this unique environment. 

 A siimilar work from the first visit is at  The Metropolitan Museum of Art,:

Coast Guard Station, Two Lights, Maine, 1927
Edward Hopper (American, 1882–1967)
Watercolor, gouache, and charcoal on paper; 13 7/8 x 19 7/8 in. (35.2 x 50.5 cm)
The Lesley and Emma Sheafer Collection, Bequest of Emma A. Sheafer, 1973 (1974.356.25)

Impressionist and Modern works by Georges Seurat, Pablo Picasso and Camille Pissarro also highlight the Masterworks sale.

Femme tenant un bouquet is one of two pieces in the collection by Seurat done in conté crayon on paper (est. $2/3 million). The artist’s evocative technique as a draughtsman was developed early in his career, and he executed the present portrait circa 1882 when he was only 22 years old.

Painted in Barcelona in 1901, Picasso’s La Plage  is a charming scene depicting a group of women and children playing at the beach -- a motif the artist returned to throughout his career (right, est. $1/1.5 million). 

Pissarro’s Paysanne assise et chèvre belongs to a series of works capturing the rural charm of Érangy, France, the small hamlet where the artist lived from 1884 until his death in 1903 (est. $1/1.5 million).