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Press Release - November 11, 2020
Premier Western Artists Headline First American Art Auction at New Heritage HeadquartersWilliam Robinson Leigh, Norman Rockwell and Thomas Moran among featured works
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William Robinson Leigh's The Best in the Bunch, 1941 (estimate: $300,000-500,000) come to Heritage from the Estate of Philip R. Jonsson, of Dallas, Texas, the same consignor of the record-setting Leigh Home Sweet Home, 1921, which was sold by Heritage in 2011 for $1.195 million (and auction record that still stands today). Originally purchased by Mr. Eric Jonsson, former mayor of Dallas from 1964 to 1971, Heritage is pleased to present this exceptional scene of Indians attempting to wrangle a wild horse, on behalf of the Jonsson family.
Thomas Moran's classic, romantic vision of American West could bring $500,000 or more in the event, which will be held in Dallas, with previews also available by appointment in New York and San Francisco.
Moran's Mountain Lion in Grand Canyon (Lair of the Mountain Lion), 1914 (estimate: $500,000-700,000), epitomizes the artist's technique of romanticizing landscape elements in order to evoke the sublimity of nature. Moran continues to hold the title of visual architect of the dramatic Western landscape, which captured the imagination of America at the turn of the century and helped inspire the creation of the National Park System. During the 1910s, Moran revisited his favorite subjects from prior decades, including Yellowstone, Yosemite, Zion and especially the Grand Canyon.
“Thomas Moran appeals to so many, including collectors of the Hudson River School," Heritage Auctions Vice President and Director of American Art Aviva Lehmann said. "His Mountain Lion in Grand Canyon is one of three works by Moran in this sale, along with two Venetian scenes from the late 1880s-90s, which reflects the popularity of his oeuvre."
The other two Moran paintings in the sale are Venice, 1892 and Venice, 1989. Each carries a pre-auction estimate of $60,000-80,000.
One of the most intriguing lots in the event is Norman Rockwell's Portrait of John F. Kennedy, Saturday Evening Post cover study, April 6, 1963 (estimate: $150,000-250,000), presenting one of the United States' most iconic presidents of the modern era, just weeks after the next presidential election. Arguably the most popular American Illustrator of all time, Rockwell famously celebrated democracy through a wide array of professions: farmers and factory workers, homemakers and teachers and most importantly, U.S. presidents. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Rockwell painted portraits of several presidents for articles and magazine covers, portraying the likes of Dwight Eisenhower, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon and JFK, whom Rockwell personally admired. The offered preliminary study is extraordinary in the way it depicts a current president struggling under the weight of the job. Part of a 1963 cover series that the Post commissioned from Rockwell featuring world leaders wrestling with international events, this cover captures JFK with furrowed brow and downcast eyes, as the magazine headline underscores, "A Worried President" agonizing over "The Crisis in His Foreign Policy."
From an artist known best as a realist who focused on the American scene comes Thomas Hart Benton's Fantasy (estimate: $80,000-120,000). Throughout his career, Benton also produced a small number of purely abstract paintings, including the one offered here. Another of Benton's pure Synchromist abstractions from this period, Bubbles, is now in the Baltimore Museum of Art. According to Benton scholar Henry Adams, “This is surely one of Benton's most remarkable abstract paintings, and it establishes his importance, not only as a major figure in the Regionalist movement of the 1930s, but as a significant abstract painter, who profoundly influenced the development of Jackson Pollock, and indeed, the whole evolution of modern art."
From one of the great American Impressionists comes Louis Ritman's Sunspots 1916 (estimate: $40,000-60,000). Ritman ranks among esteemed Impressionists Childe Hassam, Frederick Frieseke and Richard Miller, and Sunspots is emblematic of the artist's unique brand of American Impressionism. His impastoed application of paint and sumptuous use of color create a sense of the movement of light on the sitter's gorgeous figure, and on the immediacy of the moment, a solitary woman caught in inward reflection.
Blanche Lazzell's My Provincetown Studio, 1933 (estimate: $40,000-60,000) comes from one of the earliest Modernists in the United States. A remarkably talented, versatile, and innovative artist, Lazzell studied with William Merritt Chase and alongside Georgia O'Keeffe. Her work in Paris in the early 1900s introduced her to the more radical European movements, and by 1925 she had become fully committed to a decorative, geometric cubism, which was well suited to her woodcuts and to the angular patterns of the homes around the Cape Cod School of Art in Provincetown, Massachusetts, where she studied and later spent numerous summers. "I use perfect freedom as to color and values. I trust to my inspiration at the time I do the print," she once wrote in a letter to heiress Katharine McCormick (J. Altic Flint, Provincetown Printers: A Woodcut Tradition, Washington, D.C, 1983, n.p.) “I give myself one week to the making of one print. It is not a paying business as far as price is concerned. I do them because I like to."
The auction includes an impressive group of paintings by African American artists, consigned by a distinguished New York Collector, that includes Robert Scott Duncanson's Mountain Brook (estimate: $30,000-50,000) and Charles Ethan Porter's Floral Still Life (estimate: $12,000-18,000).
The sale features an exceptional selection of artwork by premier Western artists, a group that includes but is not limited to:
· Oscar Edward Berninghaus Open Country (estimate: $60,000-80,000)
· LeRoy Neiman, Satchmo (Louis Armstrong) (estimate: $50,000-70,000)
· Julian Onderdonk's Bluebonnet Field, 1921 (estimate: $40,000-60,000)
· Fritz Scholder's Indian on Blue Horse, 1975 (estimate: $40,000-60,000)
· Gerard Curtis Delano's Afternoon in Autumn (estimate: $30,000-50,000)
For images and information about all lots in the auction, visit HA.com/8013.
Heritage Auctions is the largest fine art and collectibles auction house founded in the United States, and the world's largest collectibles auctioneer. Heritage maintains offices in New York, Dallas, Beverly Hills, San Francisco, Chicago, Palm Beach, London, Paris, Geneva, Amsterdam and Hong Kong.
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Steve Lansdale, Public Relations Specialist
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