Tiffany Paintings Highlight Fine American Paintings, Drawings & Sculpture Sale

Parakeet,” by Robert Remsen Vickrey.

Parakeet,” by Robert Remsen Vickrey.

NEW YORK – Christie’s will offer its mid-season sale of Fine American Paintings, Drawings, and Sculpture on March 4, 2010, featuring an excellent selection of 19th and 20th century works including rare and exceptional works by George Benjamin Luks, Charles Sheeler, Robert Vickrey, and Louis Comfort Tiffany, as well as an exciting rediscovery by the 19th century Western artist Jules Émile Saintin.

All genres of American art are represented, including Impressionism, Modern, Ashcan School, Abstract and Western Art and prices are expected to realize between $2,000 and $60,000. The total sale is expected to achieve in excess of $2.5 million.

Florida” by Louis Comfort Tiffany.

Florida” by Louis Comfort Tiffany.

Among the lead highlights of the sale is an exciting selection of paintings and watercolors by the legendary designer Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933) that have never before been offered at auction. These rare works were originally given as gifts to Tiffany’s trusted chauffeur James Ryan, who worked for the artist from 1911 until his death in 1933. Though Tiffany was best known for his brilliance in designing Art Nouveau glass, he also had considerable skill as a painter of landscapes, still lifes and genre scenes. The paintings to be offered primarily depict the scenery around Tiffany’s beloved Laurelton Hall, his extraordinary 600-acre country estate, and Comfort Lodge, his Florida home. The group includes three paintings, “Florida” (estimate: $40,000-$60,000), “Fountain at Comfort Lodge” (estimate: $10,000-$15,000), and “Tree and Leaves, Comfort Lodge” (estimate: $10,000-$15,000) as well as two watercolors, “Dogwood Branch” (estimate: $2,000-$3,000) and “Sycamores, Main Drive, Laurelton Hall” (estimate: $3,000-$5,000).

Pony Express” by Jules Émile Saintin.

Pony Express” by Jules Émile Saintin.

A lead highlight of the sale’s Western Art section is the newly re-discovered “Pony Express,” 1863 (estimate: $30,000-$50,000), a dramatic chase scene of a mail carrier on horseback by the French-born artist Jules Émile Saintin (1829-1894). The painting had been purchased direct from the artist in the late 1800s by members of the Sibley family, who were involved in the organization and development of the Western Union Telegraph Company in the 1850s and ’60s. Since that time, the work has descended within the Sibley family, and the upcoming sale marks its first public exhibition after more than a century in the family’s private collection.

The sale’s cover lot is “Parakeet,” 1970 (estimate: $20,000-$30,000), an exceptional painting by the contemporary artist Robert Remsen Vickrey (b. 1926), who has been described as one of the world’s “most proficient craftsman in egg tempera painting.” With “Parakeet,” Vickrey makes brilliant use of this rich medium to create a sunlight-flooded scene of a teenaged girl sitting barefoot on the floor with her pet parakeet, lost in reverie. A prolific artist, Vickrey’s work is represented in the collections of over 70 public institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Smithsonian Institution.

The Blue Roof” by Charles Sheeler.

The Blue Roof” by Charles Sheeler.

Afternoon in the Park” by Martha Walter.

Afternoon in the Park” by Martha Walter.

Additional highlights of the sale include works by several of the most accomplished artists of the Impressionist and Modern genres within American art. “The Blue Roof” (estimate: $60,000-$80,000) is a classic example of the Precisionist style by Charles Sheeler (1883-1965). No larger than a postcard, the work is a harmonious distillation of line and form that mirrors the modern industrial landscape Sheeler claimed as his primary subject matter. Also featured in the sale is (estimate: $40,000-$60,000) by the Philadelphia artist Martha Walter (1875-1976), best known for her spontaneous, Impressionistic style and vivid color palette, as well as two exceptional portraits by the Ashcan School painter George Benjamin Luks (1867-1933), “Portrait of a Girl in Black” (estimate: $60,000-$80,000) and “Man with a Violin,” painted circa 1910 (estimate: $50,000-$70,000).

Speed” by Harriet Whitney Frishmuth.

Speed” by Harriet Whitney Frishmuth.

Among the sculpture highlights in the sale is “Speed” by Harriet Whitney Frishmuth (1880-1980), a stylized depiction of a winged god in mid-flight that was originally designed as a custom hood ornament for cars (estimate: $12,000-$18,000). Western art bronzes include “On the Warpath” (estimate: $10,000-$15,000), a depiction of a Native American warrior on horseback by Cyrus Edwin Dallin (1861-1944), and “Peace” (estimate: $20,000-$30,000), a standing image of an Indian chief cast circa 1895 by Carl Kauba (1865 1922).

Rounding out the group are two 1920s-era bronzes of racehorses by Herbert Haseltine (1877- 1962), entitled “Jockey on Horse” (estimate: $20,000-$30,000) and “Thoroughbred Horse” (estimate: $12,000- $18,000).

A complete e-catalogue of this sale is viewable online at Christie’s Web Site.

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