Published: August 2, 2011
(AP) †Two oil paintings by Albert Bierstadt featuring majestic mountains of the West have sold at auction for a total of $4 million.
Bierstadt’s 1898 “Mount Rainier” fetched $2.1 million July 23, while his 1863 “Lander’s Peak, Wyoming” went for $1.9 million. They were the highest-selling pieces at the Coeur d’Alene Art Auction in Reno, said Mike Overby, an organizer of the event.
The annual auction, which began in 1984, is billed as the world’s largest Western art sale. This year’s event drew roughly 300 bidders from across the country.
Two paintings by Montana artist Charles M. Russell †his 1892 “Water for Camp” and 1924 “A Dangerous Sport” †rustled up nearly $1.5 million each. The former depicts a group of American Indians getting water from a stream, while the latter portrays two cowboys on horseback focused on a mountain lion.
The Russell paintings were acquired by the same private collector, while the Bierstadt paintings went to separate private collectors, Overby said.
Maynard Dixon’s 1944 “Sculptured Sandstone,” was purchased for $351,000 by a Lake Tahoe collector.
A total of more than 300 works were sold at the Silver Legacy Resort Casino for a total of about $17 million. The figure represents an improvement from the $9.2 million in sales last year and $11.7 million in sales in 2009, but is short of the $37 million in sales in 2008 before the recession began.
“The last couple of years the art market, like everything, has been tough,” Overby told The Associated Press July 26. “This is a big jump up for this. We’ve seen the light at the end of the tunnel.”
The auction has specialized in the sale of Russell paintings over the years, having secured eight of the top ten auction prices for them, Overby added.
At the 2008 auction, a Russell painting depicting a stagecoach holdup sold for $5.2 million and a Russell bronze sculpture of two Native Americans on a buffalo hunt went for $4.1 million.
At the 2005 auction, Russell’s mythic “Piegans” image of Indians on horseback went for $5.6 million †more than double his previous auction high.
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