Monday, September 15, 2014

Swann Gallery: Homer, Cadmus, Rockwell, Burchfield, Wyeth, Marsh

Swann Galleries’ June 12 auction of American Art was the highest-grossing sale in this category ever—and also the first American Art auction at Swann to bring in more than $1 million—the sale total was $1,020,970*.

Todd Weyman, Swann Galleries Vice President and Director of Prints & Drawings, said, “We are delighted with the results of this American Art auction, which was our strongest sale ever in this category. There was spirited bidding across the board, from 19th-century artists to mid-century modernists. Particularly notable were 

Winslow Homer’s Study: Fresh Air

which fetched an auction record price for a pen and ink drawing by the artist, and 

Preston Dickinson’s The Peters Mills

which brought a record price for a Dickinson watercolor, gouache or ink.”

The Homer drawing, which brought $106,250, was a recent discovery—having previously been listed in the Homer catalogue raisonne as “whereabouts unknown”—and had descended through the family of the artist James D. Smillie. It was a study for Homer’s seminal, same-titled watercolor 

Fresh Air

which is in the collection of the Brooklyn Museum.

A work by Smillie himself also set a record in the auction. His Sunset Over a Lake, oil on board brought $11,875.

And, as mentioned above, a 1924 brush, ink, wash and color pastel with pencil by Preston Dickinson brought a record $60,000.

Prices remain strong for drawings by Paul Cadmus, and this sale featured 

Seated Male Nude (NM 96), color pastel and charcoal, 1972, which achieved $37,500; and a pen and ink, Jared French Leaving, circa 1930, $13,750.

A work by French was also a highlight: Mediterranean Street Corner, tempera on Masonite, 1954, which sold for $22,500.

Another top lot from the 1950s was Norman Rockwell’s studies for 

The Family Tree

charcoal, drawn for the cover of The Saturday Evening Post’s October 24, 1959 issue

(see a great history of this work here)—which was accompanied by a copy of the magazine, $28,160.

A pair of watercolors by naturalist Charles Burchfield performed well: Lacy Trees and Sunlit Clouds, watercolor and pencil, 1916, at $25,000 and Morning Glories, watercolor, gouache and pencil, 1915, $21,250.

Rounding out the top lots were 

Andrew Wyeth’s Portrait of Alfred Porter, pencil, 1973, $22,500;

 Hughie Lee-Smith’s Buoy and Girl, oil on canvas, 1982, $23,750; 

Reginald Marsh’s Vaudeville Dancers on a Stage, watercolor, pen and ink, 1944, $20,000; 

John La Farge’s Study of Reef, Tautira, Tahiti, watercolor and gouache, circa 1891, $16,250

and Miguel Covarrubias’s Ceremonial Kachina Dancer, tempera, $15,000.