Published: June 13, 2006
Christie’s sale of important American paintings, drawings and sculpture, led by Maxfield Parrish’s iconic “Daybreak,” one of the most reproduced images in American history, totaled $35,894,000, with 90 percent sold by value and 86 percent sold by lot.
The sale also included another important Parrish work, a previously unknown picture by Martin Johnson Heade, and property from the estate of Joan B. Kroc, including a Frederick Carl Frieseke masterpiece.
“Daybreak,” the sale’s top lot at $7,632,000, is Parrish’s most celebrated masterwork, and the price set a new world auction record for the artist. A blazing commercial success, the oil on board painting created in 1922 is a breathtaking panorama of mythical beauty. The most popular American illustrator after World War I, Parrish was commissioned to paint “Daybreak” by the art publishing firm House of Art in August 1920.
The painting was his first work commissioned solely for the purpose of reproduction as a color lithographic print to be distributed to the American public – and it became one of the most reproduced paintings in American history. At the height of its popularity, it was estimated that one of every four households had a copy, making it a national sensation and cultural phenomenon.
“Daybreak” seamlessly combines the diverse influences ofParrish’s early career with his fully developed technique andvision. The work blends Pre-Raphaelite sentiment, Old Mastertechnique, a strict adherence to laws of proportion and commercialsensitivity into an iconic work of astounding beauty.
The painting is a portal to an Arcadian fantasy that exudes innocence and mystical beauty. The dazzling landscape, bathed in dawn’s rising sun, is testimony to the artist’s mastery of light and color.
Another important Parrish offering, “The Lantern Bearers,” an oil on canvas laid down on board, painted in 1908, sold for $4,272,000. The fanciful subject matter is typical of Parrish’s work early in the Twentieth Century and was originally created for a frontispiece for Collier’s magazine’s December 10, 1910, issue.
Four works from the estate of Joan B. Kroc, noted philanthropist and collector, and wife of Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald’s, were offered in the auction, including “Garden Pool,” an oil on canvas masterpiece of American Impressionism by Frederick Carl Frieseke, which fetched $2,368,000, setting a new world auction record for the artist.
“An Orchid with an Amethyst Woodstar” by Martin Johnson Heade dating from 1874, a previously unrecorded and rediscovered masterwork, achieved $1,360,000.
Commented Eric Widing, senior vice president, specialist headof the American paintings department, “This auction marked a returnto a level of saleroom exuberance we have not seen for severalyears, with extraordinary prices and energy throughout. We aredelighted with our new world auction records for Maxfield Parrishand Frederick Carl Frieseke – and for the overall health of theAmerican art market.”
Rounding out the sale’s top ten lots were Fitz Henry Lane, “Rafe’s Chasm, Gloucester, Massachusetts,” oil on canvas, 1853, $1,136,000; Norman Rockwell, “Boy with Two Dogs (Raleigh Rockwell Travels),” oil on canvas, 1929, $800,000; Georgia O’Keeffe, “Another Place Near Abiquiu,” oil on canvas, 1930, $777,600; Charles Caryl Coleman, “Twilight and Poppies,” oil on canvas tacked over board, 1898, $688,000; John Singer Sargent, “A Sketch: Capri,” oil on canvas, $688,000; and James Edward Buttersworth, “Yacht Orion,” oil on canvas, $542,400.
All sold prices include buyer’s premium. For information, www.Christies.com or 212-636-2000.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm