Published: July 25, 2023
Review By W.A. Demers; Photos Courtesy Coeur D’Alene Art Auction
RENO, NEV. — Howard Terpning’s (b 1927) “Paper That Talks Two Ways – The Treaty Signing” sold for $2,360,000 to a private collector whose representative was in the salesroom at Coeur d’Alene’s Art Auction, setting a new world record for Terpning at auction. The July 15 auction realized more than $21 million in sales with 92 percent of all lots sold. Loosely patterned after the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, the 57-by-70-inch oil on canvas portrays a gathering of Cheyenne and Sioux as a speaker expresses his distrust of the words of the peace commission that have been translated to him. The painting’s title is a play on an Indian expression that the treaty always said one thing to the white man and quite another to the Natives. In addition to the world record established by “Paper That Talks Two Ways – The Treaty Signing,” three other Terpning paintings achieved six figures. They were “Traveling in Good Company” at $326,700; “Time Stood Still,” $242,000; and “Searching the Mountains,” $163,350.
Another record was set by Maynard Dixon (1875-1946), also a Western master, when his “The Pony Boy” sold for $ 2,130,000, also to a private collector bidding in the room. Catalog notes exhaustively outline Dixon’s historical painting campaign in Glacier National Park and on the Blackfeet Reservation. The 36-by-72-inch painting depicts a Blackfeet boy astride his Pinto pony against a backdrop of a pony herd and distant buttes. While “The Pony Boy” result certainly thrilled the crowd in the gallery, the market for Dixon showed its fundamental strength as “Migration, No. 2” commanded $229,900, “Thunder Over Shiprock” took $121,000 and “Signs of Autumn” made $114,950.
The Coeur d’Alene Art Auction brings classical Western and American art representing past masters and contemporary artists to the market each year. The largest single-auction event in the Western and American art field, the sale saw 37 lots exceed the $100,000 mark. “We knew going into it we had some great pieces to offer to the market and we felt pretty confident going in. It’s always nice to see our results match our expectations, and in this case I’d say they actually exceeded those,” said Mike Overby, principal at the Coeur d’Alene Art Auction.
“Evening” by Gerard Curtis Delano (1890-1972) was a laconic but fitting title for an image of two Native Americans on horseback communing in the oncoming dusk as their horses drink from a stream. It was the third highest selling painting in the sale, realizing $786,500. In total, the auction recorded nearly $900,000 achieved by Delano works.
It’s not all contemplative fare, as evidenced by William Herbert Dunton’s (1878 - 1936) “A Race for the Chuckwagon,” in which Northern Plains cowboys in woolly chaps or no chaps and using buckaroo-style bridles, bits and reins stage a riding competition that turns fierce. It went out at $786,500.
Less frenetic is Dunton’s “Two Braves,” which stemmed from the artist’s trip between about 1909 and 1918 in both Mexico and the area around Taos in which he posed and painted en plein air single American Indians, cowboys or groups of American Indians or cowboys. These were vertical paintings usually either 20 by 16 or 16 by 12 inches. “Two Braves,” which brought $574,750, circa 1916, was considerably larger than the other paintings in this group, measuring 39 by 26 inches. It was a good night for the Taos Society of Artists founder, as overall, Dunton sales totaled more than $1.4 million.
Expertly rendering the contrasts of sun and shadow on snow, Henry Farny’s (1847 - 1916) “The Trail Over the Pass” was a realistic depiction of a hunting party riding and walking a mountainside trail and earned $665,650, while Edward Hopper’s “Shoshone Cliffs, Wyoming,” a 1941 watercolor on paper, captured the dramatic red sandstone rocks situated above the Shoshone River and was bid to $574,750. According to catalog notes, in 1941, Hopper and his wife Jo took an extended road trip to the West during which they stopped and spent eight days at Shoshone National Forest in Wyoming.
Fetching the same price as the Hopper, Philip R. Goodwin’s (1881-1935) “Blazing the Trail” illustrated this artist’s strength in the market. The result established the second-highest total ever for the American painter and illustrator — a price eclipsed only by last year’s world record established at the Coeur d’Alene Art Auction, when “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea” surged to $968,000. Overall, the combined total for Goodwin paintings in this auction came to $1.1 million, including the $242,000 paid for “The Law of the Wilderness,” depicting a brewing conflict between a trio of bears and two hunters, and “A Dangerous Moment,” a 24-by-33-inch oil that brought $205,7000.
Thomas Moran’s “The Rock of Acoma, New Mexico,” a 14-by-20-inch watercolor showing the grandeur of the Southwestern landscape compared with the tiny humans and horses traversing through it, went out at $423,500, establishing the highest price for a Moran watercolor in the last seven years.
Joseph Henry Sharp (1859 - 1953) was represented by two canvases among the top performers, “The Young Chief,” 1905, 20 by 30 inches, which left the gallery at $423,500, and “Winter Squaw Dance, Crow Reservation, Montana,” also 20 by 30 inches, which changed hands at $302,500. The former was a family scene centered on teepee life as seen from Sharp’s studio window. This and “Crow Reservation” were some of the first known, large open-air camp subjects. They were staged just south of Sharp’s Crow Agency studio, according to catalog notes, and in “The Young Chief” an Indian family is pictured standing beside the artist’s Blackfeet buffalo hide teepee that was pitched close at hand and would become a frequently used prop. A small sweat lodge is in the process of being erected on the left, perhaps intended for the child who is being guided by his mother in that direction.
According to the Montana Free Press, the painting was bought by the Bair Family Trust and will remain in Montana. “The elation I felt when it happened, it’s hard for me to find words for,” Elizabeth Guheen, director and chief curator for the Bair Family Museum in Martinsdale, told the paper. “We kept it in Montana — that was our goal.”
Soon, visitors to the museum in central Montana will be able to view the painting, done during the time Sharp lived on the Crow Reservation.
On the contemporary side, Mark Maggiori’s (b 1977) “Morning Above the Canyon,” 2017, surpassed its high estimate of $40/60,000 and sold for $332,750.
Of his watercolor on paper, “Lassoing Horses,” Alfred Jacob Miller (1810 - 1874) wrote: “On approaching the band, his body swaying to and fro, the noose part is flourished above the head, and as opportunity offers, is flung with great precision and dexterity around the neck or leg, whichever appears most feasible to the Indian.” Catalog notes further point out that this painting had remained in the same family for more than 170 years, having originally been purchased from Miller by Col. Brantz Mayer, a native of Baltimore, Md. He was an author and attorney and a founder of the Maryland Historical Society. It realized $314,600.
There is lots of sky in Edgar Payne’s (1883 – 1947) oil on canvas “Desert Sky,” which earned $302,500. Puffy cumulous clouds fill the bright blue sky as four Indian horsemen are shown as very small figures within a grand Southwestern landscape.
An art auction favorite, Charles M. Russell (1864 - 1926) posted a strong result for “Pablo Buffalo Hunt” — $302,500. According to Russell biographer Dr Larry Len Peterson, “The Pablo Buffalo Roundup was one of the quintessential experiences of Charles M. Russell’s artistic life. His ability to capture the bison in paint and sculpture significantly improved as a result of his participation in the event. Russell studied the woolly beast more closely than any other artist and immortalized the celebrated legend of the plains in oil, watercolor, clay, bronze and nostalgic prose and poetry.”
Prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. The next auction will be conducted on November 11. For information, 208-772-9009 or www.cdaartauction.com.
September 19, 2023
September 19, 2023
September 19, 2023
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