Published: February 12, 2008
Christmas came early here as Altermann Galleries’ December 15‱6 auction made consignors and buyers alike merry with its final total of $4,436,364.
The first session focusing on traditional Western art, grossed $3,834,328 and set several new records. The leading highlight was “Spring Tryout,” an egg tempera by Thomas Hart Benton that brought $1,000,500.
A 12-inch-high version of James Earle Fraser’s “End of the Trail” bronze far exceeded its presale estimate of $25/30,000, ending up at $78,000; the price for the sculpture was surprising, since the most that this version of the casting had ever brought at auction prior to this event was $12,000. Another bronze performing well beyond expectations was Frederic Remington’s “Bronco Buster,” cast number 96 ($60/80,000), at $191,500.
The Cowboy Artists of America organization sculptors made a respectable showing, with Harry Jackson’s “The Flag Bearer” fetching $22,800 and Joe Beeler’s “Crazy Horse” at $36,000. John Hampton’s “Turning the Leaders” reached $12,000.
Works by the Taos Society of Artists performed solidly, with an 8-by-10-inch oil by E.M. Hennings bringing $202,500. Smaller work performing well was Bert Geer Phillips’ “Taos Fisherman,” a 10½- by-13½-inch oil selling for $120,000. Oscar Berninghaus fared well, with his oil “Indians on Horseback New Mexico,” 25 by 30 inches, reaching $219,000.
Olaf Wieghorst had nine works offered, with eight selling; the top lot was a 24-by-30-inch oil, “Caught in the Storm” that brought $50,400. Ed Borein had five offerings; all sold, with the top lot being a watercolor, “Thunderbolt,” going for $9,600.
Photography was represented by Ansel Adams, whose “Aspens Northern New Mexico” achieved $60,000.
Recently deceased Frank McCarthy continued to show strength at auction, with his 26-by-30-inch oil “At the Rosebud” bringing $51,000. Living artist Roy Andersen was represented by a Indian portrait, “He Follows the Vision Bull,” that exceeded estimate at $81,600.
Living artist G. Harvey’s mountainscape with riders, “Among the Silence of Canyon Echoes,” brought $147,500 and his rainy day boomtown oil scene “Too Wet To Plow” had eight absentee bidders lined up and received applause when it sold for $90,000.
Tony Altermann said that he was pleased with the telephone and absentee activity, saying, “Once again, we had the majority of the works that sold covered with bidders 24 hours before the auction began.”
The second session, dealing with works by Indian artists, made a respectable showing, with the top lot being a Maria Martinez and Popovi Da blackware pot, circa 1968, exceeding estimate to end at $45,000. A Maria and Julian Martinez black on black shrine bowl, circa 1930 realized $13,200, and a Maria and Julian polychrome bowl produced a strong $20,400.
Of the sale total, Richard Altermann said, “We are very pleased with the results of our second American Indian art auction. We didn’t have as many lots as we did in last year’s inaugural, mainly because we did a better job of vetting what was offered to us. By having the traditional and Indian art auctions back to back, we had crossover buying that probably wouldn’t have happened otherwise.”
All prices reported include the buyer’s premium.
For information, 505-983-1590 or www.altermann.com .
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