Published: December 27, 2011
American paintings, drawings and sculpture brought $24,557,750 on December 1 at Sotheby’s, above a low estimate of $22.3 million; 71.2 percent of the lots sold.
The auction was highlighted by a group of four paintings of Native Americans by Nineteenth Century artist George Catlin, on offer from the Field Museum in Chicago and originally in the collection of Benjamin O’Fallon, nephew of William Clark and the US Indian agent for the Missouri River tribes. Together, the works brought $4,576,000, led by “Interior of a Mandan Lodge,” which sold for $1,538,500.
Five determined bidders drove Marsden Hartley’s untitled still life to $3,218,500, more than three times the high estimate of $900,000 and the single highest price in the auction. The work was on offer from the Birger Sandzén Memorial Gallery in Lindsborg, Kan., and depicts a blooming cactus in a Pueblo Indian blackware olla, set on a red and white striped table cloth with a view of the New Mexico landscape behind.
Property from the estate of New York literary figure Helen Marx performed exceptionally well, with all but two of the 18 lots on offer finding buyers and two works selling for more than $1 million †Martin Johnson Heade’s “Orchids and Hummingbirds,” which nearly tripled its high estimate of $700,000 in achieving $1,986,500, and “Orange Trees and Gate” by Winslow Homer, which brought $1,314,500.
Works from the estate realized $3,930,500 in total, well in excess of their $2.4 million cumulative high estimate.
Additional highlights from the sale included John la Farge’s “Red Hollyhocks,” which sold for $1,874,500, while works by Norman Rockwell were led by his Saturday Evening Post cover “Couple with Milkman” that brought $1,426,500.
Prices reported include the buyer’s premium. For information, 212-606-7000 or www.sothebys.com .
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