Published: February 20, 2007
Altermann Galleries & Auctioneers’ December 16 auction realized $4,855,390 and in the process set new record prices for several artists’ works.
The top selling lot was a 28-by-20-inch oil painting by Albert Bierstadt (German American, 1830–1902) titled “Old Faithful” that had a presale estimate of $250/350,000. With several bidders in the audience and nine on the telephone, a telephone bidder was successful at $665,000.
W.R. Leigh’s (1866–1955) “Roping the Wolf,” circa 1913, was estimated at $200/225,000. Beyond $450,000, it was a bidding war between someone on the floor and a telephone bidder, with the telephone bidder winning out at $599,000. Frank Tenney Johnson’s (1874–1939) major works, “Beneath the Southern Moon” sold for $368,000, with both the underbidder and successful bidder on the phone. Joseph Henry Sharp’s (1859-1953) “An Evening Pipe” also exceeded the presale estimate, ending up at $401,000. Two other works by the same artist, “Taos Drummer,” and his impressionistic “On the Banks of the Little Big Horn, 1906” both went well beyond presale estimates, selling for $164,500 and $100,050 respectively.
Fellow Taos Society artist E.I. Couse (1866–1936) had four offerings, and four sales, with the top lot, “Evening at the Riverbank (The Moonstone)” topping out at $159,000. A Couse Indian portrait, “Leandro Bernal, Taos,” exceeded the $50/70,000 estimate by going to $86,250.
Another Taos Society artist, Oscar Berninghaus, drew six telephone bidders with his painting “On The Apache Indian Reservation” being bought at $109,250. Walter Ufer’s portrait “El Cacique del Pueblo” was well received and sold for $175,500. Taos master Leon Gaspard had his small “Russian Winter” scene got to a final bid of $54,050.
An excellent painting of Yosemite by its best-known re-creator, Tom Hill, doubled its high estimated of $70,000 by ending up at $142,500. The bidding moved along rapidly with the help of seven telephone bidders. “Late Afternoon Southwest” by Charles Partridge Adams, another landscape painting, was well received, selling for $33,350.
Small paintings found aggressive, above-market bidding. Two prime examples were Carl Redin’s 14-by-16-inch painting of the church at Chimayo with a $3/4,000 estimate, it went to $24,150, and Gerard Curtis Delano’s 8-by-10-inch painting “Navajo Sheep” brought $22,425, almost doubled its high estimate.
The overachievers in the Twentieth Century Western art category were led by Frank McCarthy’s “The Dispatch Riders,” which brought an astounding $75,900. Eric Sloane’s “Storm Over Walpi,” estimate $18/22,000, fared equally well by reaching $40,250. Other top performers were Martin Grelle’s “Snake River Wolves” at $115,000 and Howard Terpning’s (born 1927) “Empty Saddle” at $225,000.
Ed Mell’s two Southwest landscapes, “Skyfires — Hoska Butte” and “Schnebly Hill Formation” far exceeded estimates at $64,400 and $34,500 respectively. The artist’s sculpture “Jacknife” did equally well by reaching $18,400.
“Having the auction so close to Christmas didn’t have any negative impact upon attendance. In fact, we had to bring in an extra row of chairs,” stated Richard Altermann. “We were especially pleased by the increase in telephone bidding, and that several of the top grossing lots were acquired by first-time gallery buyers.”
All prices given include the buyer’s premium.
Altermann’s is at 225 Canyon Road. For more information, www.altermann.com or 505-983-1590.
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