Childe Hassam’s 1920 Oil Painting ‘The East Hampton Elms In May’ Climbs To $288,000

Childe Hassam’s 1920 oil, “The East Hampton Elms in May,” was the top lot at an auction held April 25 by Shannon’s Fine Art Auctioneers. It gaveled for $288,000.

MILFORD, Conn. – A large and important oil painting by the renowned American Impressionist Childe Hassam titled “The East Hamptom Elms in May” sold for $288,000 at an auction held April 25 by Shannon’s Fine Art Auctioneers. The painting was the top lot of 156 works offered.

Hassam (1859-1935) executed “The East Hampton Elms in May” in 1920, the first spring that he owned a house and studio in East Hampton, N.Y., on Long Island. The house—called Willow Bend—dated from 1722. Hassam purchased it from the widow of Gains Ruger Donoho (1852-1916), an artist and friend of Hassam. He paid for Willow Bend with money from his Flag Paintings series.

Hassam painted “The East Hampton Elms in May” on a major scale: 57 ¼ inches by 72 ¼ inches. Only two other paintings were executed by Hassam on such a grand scale: “Twilight, Le Crepuscule” (50 inches by 77 inches, 1888); and “April, The Green Gown” (56 inches by 82 ½ inches, 1920). All three major paintings remained with Childe Hassam until his death in 1935.

Many other paintings fetched high dollars in an auction that grossed $2.1 million.

“What this sale showed was that not only is there interest at the high end of the art market, but strong interest, too, in the middle market—artworks in the $5,000-$20,000 arena,” said Gene Shannon of Shannon’s Fine Art Auctioneers. “That segment had taken a hit following the financial crisis, and it’s a good sign to see it revived.”

Close to 100 people packed Shannon’s Milford gallery, while many others registered to bid online via Artfact. A bank of 18 phones was kept busy throughout the evening.

“If we had twice the merchandise, we still could have sold it,” Shannon remarked. “The money’s out there and the demand is strong.”

Following are additional highlights from the auction (all prices quoted include a 20-percent buyer’s premium):

This oil-on-board by the noted Philadelphia Impressionist Martha Walter (1875-1976), titled “Tea Party” realized $90,000.

• An oil-on-board painting by the noted Philadelphia Impressionist Martha Walter (Am., 1875-1976), titled “Tea Party,” artist-signed and measuring 14 inches by 18 inches, sailed past its high pre-sale estimate to hammer for $90,000. Walter was one of only a handful of female artists to attract international respect and attention. She was mentored by William Merritt Chase.

• Paintings from the Hudson River School proved to be quite popular with bidders. An oil on canvas by Jasper Francis Cropsey (Am., 1823-1900), titled “Greenwood Lake in the Autumn” (1890), soared to $72,000. Greenwood Lake, located in the hills of northern New Jersey, was Cropsey’s favorite subject, one he returned to throughout his career.

This oil-on-canvas by Hudson River School painter Jasper Cropsey (1823-1900), titled “Greenwood Lake in the Autumn,” brought $72,000.

• A 10-inch by 16-inch oil-on-canvas landscape by David Johnson (Am., 1827-1908), titled “Spring – A Study on the Bronx at Mt. Vernon,” dated, 1873, brought $50,400. The work was encased in its original gold leaf frame and was remarkably well preserved in a shadow box.

• An oil on board by William Trost Richards (Am., 1833-1905), titled “White Face Mountain From Lake Placid,” signed and measuring 9 ¼ inches by 15 ½ inches, changed hands for $25,200. Richards, also from the Hudson River School, was known for marine seascapes, landscapes and botanical paintings.

And color offset lithograph by Andy Warhol (Am., 1928-1987), titled “Liz” and depicting actress Elizabeth Taylor, found a new home for $43,200.

• Pop Art prints were led by two giants in the industry. A color offset lithograph signed by Andy Warhol (Am., 1928-1987), titled “Liz” (1964) and depicting the late screen siren Elizabeth Taylor, hammered for $43,200; and a signed color offset lithograph by Roy Lichtenstein (Am., 1923-1977), titled “Crying Girl” (1963), realized $50,400.

• A haunting, untitled egg tempera of a woman with eyes closed, head in hand and seeming despondent but juxtaposed against a glass vase with bright pink flowers, went for $66,000. The signed work, by George Tooker (Am., 1920-2004), was 18 inches by 24 inches. Tooker’s images often depicted clerical workers and government offices. They evoked a sense of spiritualism and poetry.

This haunting untitled egg tempera work by George Tooker (Am., 1920-2004), artist-signed, sold for $66,000.

• Two exceptional paintings each brought identical selling prices of $45,600. The first was an oil-on-canvas board by Guy C. Wiggins (Am., 1883-1962), titled “Winter Storm at the Library,” 16 inches by 12 inches.

• The second was an oil-on-canvas by Dale Nichols (Am., 1904-1995, an artist often named as the fourth Regionalist painter, along with Grant Wood, Thomas Hart Benton and John Stuart Curry). The painting, titled “The Sentinel” and showing a house, barn and figures in a snow-covered landscape, was signed lower left by the artist and measured 30 inches by 40 inches.

An oil-on-canvas by the “fourth” Regionalist painter, Dale Nichols (Am., 1904-1995), titled “The Sentinel,” hammered for $45,600.

Shannon Fine Art Auctioneers’ next big auction is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 24, also in Milford (and online at Artfact.com). Shannon’s holds two sales per year, in spring and autumn. These typically feature around 200 artworks, meticulously culled from the thousands that are submitted for consignment.

For more information about this or upcoming auctions, or to enquire about consignments for future auctions, call 203.877.1711, e-mail to info@shannons.com or visit the Shannon’s Fine Art Auctioneers website.


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