Auction Report: American Paintings, Drawings & Sculpture Sale Sets Artist Records

George Bellows’s “Dock Builders,” the first of a series of works by the artist that focus on Maine’s rugged seamen from the Evans Collection, sold for $3,890,500 (est. $2-$3 million) at the American Paintings, Drawings & Sculpture auction at Sotheby’s on May 19.

NEW YORK – An auction of American Paintings, Drawings & Sculpture at Sotheby’s New York on May 19 saw new artist records set for Ernest Leonard Blumenschein, William J. McCloskey and William Aiken Walker and achieved a realized a total of $27,124,125, more than a pre-sale low estimate of $25.3 million.

The sale featured works from two remarkable private collections—Property from the Collection of Edward P. Evans and Property from a Distinguished East Coast Collection—and was led by George Bellows’s “Dock Builders” from the Evans Collection, which sold for $3,890,500 (est. $2-$3 million). The first of a series of works by the artist that focus on Maine’s rugged seamen, the canvas exhibits the same compositional dynamism that Bellows made famous in his iconic boxing scenes. Sotheby’s now holds the top four prices for the artist at auction. Overall, six of the paintings on offer brought prices over $1million.

Property from the Collection of Edward P. Evans performed well overall, with a cumulative total of $12,726,750 that was well above the pre-sale low estimate of $9.5 million, and with 85 percent of the lots on offer finding buyers. In addition to Bellows’s “Dock Builders,” the collection was highlighted by “Quai St. Michel” by Childe Hassam, which brought $2,098,500, and “The Old Sand Road” by William Merritt Chase, which sold for $1,202,500 above a high estimate of $900,000. A new artist record was set for William J. McCloskey, whose “Wrapped Oranges on a Tabletop” more than doubled its high estimate in achieving $782,500.

“The Old Sand Road,” by William Merritt Chase, realized $1,202,500.

Ernest Leonard Blumenschein’s “White Blanket and Blue Spruce,” which features a single, standing female draped in swaths of fabric, brought $1,538,500.

Thomas Hart Benton’s “Flood Disaster,” painted the work in response to the 1951 flooding of the Kansas and Missouri Rivers, sold for $1,874,500.

Property from a Distinguished East Coast Collection also brought several of today’s top prices. Competition in the room, on the phones and online drove Thomas Hart Benton’s “Flood Disaster” to $1,874,500, in excess of its $1.2-million high estimate. The artist painted the work in response to the 1951 flooding of the Kansas and Missouri Rivers, which devastated more than 1 million acres in the region. This marks the second-highest price for a work by Benton at auction, and Sotheby’s now holds the top three prices for the artist. Also highlighting the collection was Milton Avery’s “March Playing the Cello,” which brought $1,426,500. Four of the five lots by Avery on offer in today’s sale found buyers, demonstrating the strength of the market for the artist’s work.

Western art in today’s auction was led by two works from the Wichita Center for the Arts. Ernest Leonard Blumenschein’s “White Blanket and Blue Spruce,” which features a single, standing female draped in swaths of fabric, brought $1,538,500, well in excess of its $900,000 high estimate. This result nearly quadruples the previous record for the artist at auction, set by
Sotheby’s in 1998. Walter Ufer’s “After the Chapel Hour” also exceeded its high estimate in selling for $818,500.

———————————

WorthPoint—Discover Your Hidden Wealth