Published: May 1, 2015
SAN FRANCISCO —William Wendt’s renowned oil painting, “The Old Coast Road,” circa 1916, achieved $1,565,000, more than doubling its $600,000 high estimate and setting a new auction record for the highest price achieved for a work by the artist. The work crossed the block in Bonhams’ sale of California and Western paintings and sculpture April 28.
The painting graces the cover of the best known book on California Impressionism titled Plein Air Painters of California: The Southland by Ruth Westphal and it is one of the best known California paintings to be sold from private hands.
The West Coast auction was well-attended and attained $5,179,625, selling 86 percent of its lots by value.
Bonhams Fine Arts Director in Los Angeles Scot Levitt, says, “This was the most exciting sale that I have had the distinction to auction in my 30 years working with the company. The William Wendt painting has been the most iconic California image since it graced the cover of the first-ever illustrated compilation of plein air painters in 1983. It was fitting that it sold for triple the artist’s previous auction record. The sale overall produced strong results and sent a clear message that the California and Western art markets are alive and thriving.”
A second work that flew past its high estimate of $800,000 in the sale was Walter Ufer’s “Indian Entertainer” which fetched $1,025,000. The oil on canvas, painted in 1926, depicts Ufer’s friend and model of more than 20 years, Jim Mirabel, playing a drum before a Pueblo Moki backdrop. It captures a transitional moment in the history of the American West.
Additional notable lots in the sale included Edgar Payne’s “Laguna Breakers,” that sold for $293,000 and another William Wendt painting from the same Laguna Beach collection as the first – “Misty Morning, Santa Ana Canyon” at $143,000.
Records for the second highest auction price achieved were set for Henrietta Shore’s “Waterfall,” that brought $215,000 and Enoch Wood Perry’s “Vernal Falls, Yosemite Valley,” that took in $112,500.
Rounding out the sale’s highlights, Granville Redmond’s “Nocturne” sold for $118,750 and a record high was achieved for William Posey Silva’s “Springtime in Runnymede, South Carolina,” which brought $100,000.
For more information, www.bonhams.com or 415-861-7500.
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