Published: November 19, 2015
NEW YORK CITY — One of eight artist records set on November 18 at Sotheby’s and from the collection of A. Alfred Taubman, Martin Johnson Heade’s “The Great Florida Sunset” sold for $5.9 million. The monumental masterpiece was acquired for the collection of the Minnesota Marine Art Museum (MMAM) in Winona, Minn. Opened in 2006, the museum holds one of the greatest collections of Hudson River School works in the United States, to which the present canvas will be an important addition. The acquisition will reunite “The Great Florida Sunset” on public view with its pendant painting, Heade’s “View from Fern-Tree Walk, Jamaica,” which was acquired for the MMAM in 2013. American industrialist Henry Morrison Flagler commissioned the two monumental canvases from Heade in 1887, to hang in his Hotel Ponce de León in St Augustine, Fla. The two paintings are the largest ever executed by the artist in his prolific career and hung together in the upper rotunda of the hotel (later a part of Flagler College).
Other stars from prominent private collections included Andrew Wyeth’s “Flood Plain” from the Collection of Charlton and Lydia Heston, which achieved $5.2 million, and from the collection of television executive Sam Simon, Thomas Hart Benton’s “T.P. and Jake” realized $3.1 million. The auction concluded with a season total of $52.2 million, well exceeding the firm’s overall low estimate of $41.3 million. Totaling $26.6 million, the sale was 82.1 percent sold by lot. In addition to Heade, new auction records were set for Cassius Marcellus Coolidge, George Copeland Ault, Otto Henry Bacher, Charles Sprague Pearce, James Gale Tyler, David Brega and Walter Pach. Watch for a complete report on this sale and others during American art week in an upcoming issue.
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