Published: May 27, 2003
NEW YORK CITY — Important American Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture were offered at Christie’s on May 22 with records for individual artists established for Thomas Eakins and Milton Avery. The auction featured 92 lots with 71 finding buyers resulting in a 77 percent sold rate and grossing $17,760,500.
“In today’s sale, we saw lively bidding and strong results in every price range and in every category from the Hudson River School to American Modernism,” said Eric Widing, senior vice president and head of Christie’s American Paintings Department. “Our sale of Thomas Eakins’ ‘Cowboys in the Badlands’ presented what is likely the last opportunity for collectors to acquire a masterpiece by the artist.”
The painting, an iconic Western cowboy scene depicting two riders amidst the colorful and sparse landscape of the Badlands, measuring 321/4 by 45 inches, sold after active bidding for $5,383,500, establishing not only a record price for Eakins, but also achieving the top price at auction for any American Western painting, according to the auction gallery.
Impressive provenance listed John Hemenway Duncan, New York, early 1890s, Stephen C. Clark, New York, 1920s, Macbeth Gallery, New York, and the collection of Francis P. Garvan. The painting was sold at the Parke-Bernet Galleries in 1970, where it was acquired by the consignor.
The catalog noted of the painting, “The last great landscape created by Thomas Eakins, ‘Cowboys in the Badlands’ is a magnificent summation from a career of one of America’s premier realist artists. Eakins demonstrated a new modern approach to the depiction of landscape, portraiture, and genre paintings that have become important representations in American Art.”
Similarly, the record price for Milton Avery’s “Bathers by River” established a new level of value for his work and underscores his central importance to American Modernism. Estimated at $300/500,000, the painting sold for a record price paid at auction of $735,500.
Other top lots included a Childe Hassam, “Rooftop Garden, Paris,” 1888, selling to David Nisinson for $623,500 against a $300/500,000 estimate, and Sanford Robinson Gifford’s, “The Mouth of the Shrewsbury River,” 1867, bringing $545,100, also from Nisinson.
“Ojibwe Encampment” by Eastman Johnson was purchased by The Caldwell Gallery for $589,900, Thomas Moran’s “Castle Rock, Green River, Wyoming,” 1907, brought $433,100 from a private US client and Winslow Homer’s, “Small Sloop” also went privately at $433,100.
A Newell Convers Wyeth Popular Magazine cover illustration entitled “The Frontiersman” brought $421,900, Georgia O’Keeffe’s “Antelope Head with Pedernal” sold to the Gilcrease Museum for $410,700 and Frederic Remington’s, “The Mountain Man” exceeded estimates at $388,300.
“The overall success of the sale further demonstrates that today’s buyers respond strongly to good property when it is offered at fair and reasonable estimates,” said Widing.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm