With an enthusiastic response from its consignors, the strong offering of nearly 160 lots features works of art by distinguished American artists including Martin Lewis (1881-1962), Milton Avery (1885-1965), Joseph Stella (1877-1946) and William Glackens (1870-1938), as well as Pennsylvania Impressionists Fern Coppedge (1883-1951), Edward Redfield (1869-1965) and Daniel Garber (1880-1958). Anchored by two quintessential works by two generations of Wyeths (Newell Convers, 1882-1945, and Andrew, 1917-2009), the sale also includes several fine groupings of paintings, such as five snowscapes by Guy Carleton Wiggins (1883-1962), along with a selection of about 30 works of art from the Collection of Richard Mellon Scaife, the media magnate and noted philanthropist who predominately collected 19th century paintings including scenes Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902) and Jasper F. Cropsey (1823-1900), Lots 17-42.
The characteristically dramatic scene by N.C. Wyeth, “Back and Forth Across It We Went…” (Lot 94, estimate $400,000-600,000), is one of the undoubted highlights of the sale (detail featured above). The present lot brilliantly demonstrates N.C. Wyeth’s talent for narrative and composition. Fresh to market, and hailing from a private Collection in North Carolina, the painting is an illustration for Vingie E. Roe’s “The Virtue of Neils Hansen,” a short-story published in Colliers Weekly in May 1915. Though born in Massachusetts, Wyeth spent the majority of his life in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, where he initially moved in 1902 to study at Howard Pyle’s School of Art. Considered one of the country’s greatest illustrators, Wyeth garnered acclaim for his work with the publishing company Charles Scribner’s Sons.
An impressive watercolor by Andrew Wyeth that descended through the Eisenhower family, will also be offered. Lot 98, “At Home,” (estimate: $100,000-150,000) depicts President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s summer home in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It was executed in the summer of 1959, and gifted to President Eisenhower while Wyeth was working on his portrait for the cover of Time Magazine’s September issue. Set in the vast garden of the President’s weekend retreat, the summer scene captures a tranquil moment under the shade of an ash tree on the 189-acre farm. Until 1969, the original watercolor hung in President Eisenhower’s office in Gettysburg.
The sale opens with several prints depicting New York City at the beginning of the 20th century. Of note are three examples by Martin Lewis (lots 1-3), whose oeuvre is almost entirely based on the city’s architecture, its inhabitants and their daily lives. Lot 1, “Yorkville Night,” (estimate: $20,000-30,000) is a wonderful example of the artist’s style. Howard Cook (1901-1980) was equally fascinated by New York, and his work focuses on the city’s urban landscape, its jagged lines, blocky shapes, and the light and shadow interplay between façades, edifices, and streets. Lot 6, “Chrysler Building,” (estimate: $8,000-12,000) depicts the famous Art Deco-style building, completed just two years before the offered lot.
From a private Los Angeles Collection comes almost half a dozen works by Guy Carleton Wiggins, whose wintry New York scenes define his career. Lot 64, “City Hall Park” (estimate: $80,000-120,000) depicts New York’s City Hall and its surrounding streets and buildings in Wiggins’ quintessential fashion. A snowy winter’s afternoon creates a gray sky as trees, grass, and concrete become covered in the blizzard’s fall. Lots 65, “The Library in Winter” (estimate: $30,000-50,000) and 66, “At the Library New York” (estimate: $80,000-120,000) both depict the New York Public Library during a blizzard. The son of an accomplished landscape painter, Impressionist Wiggins studied first with his father, Carleton Wiggins, and later at the National Academy of Design under the tutelage of famed American painters Robert Henri and William Merritt Chase.
From the Collection of Richard Mellon Scaife, Lot 17, “Waverly Newton, Long Island,” (estimate: $50,000-80,000) by Jasper Francis Cropsey, captures a glowing sailboat on the water, while in the background of the composition is “Waverly,” the family home of a friend of the artist. Lot 21, “Autumn Landscape” by German-born Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902), exhibits the artist’s attraction to the fall season and autumnal colors. Lot 29, “Siasconset Beach (Nantucket Island)” by George Inness (estimate: $20,000-30,000), is representative of the artist’s transitional phase, inspired by his contemporaries’ recent trip to Paris.
Additional highlights from the section of American works include Lot 46, “Isfahan Bazaar” by Edwin Lord Weeks (estimate: $30,000-50,000), which the executed during his first and only trip to Persia in the fall of 1892. Painted between 1901 and 1903, the present work is similar to Weeks’s other compositions, and features an above eye-level view of the city’s densely packed market. Lot 80, “Sunflower” by Joseph Stella (1877-1946), a gouache on paper (estimate: $25,000-40,000), truly marks Stella’s closest approach to Expressionism. Six works by Hobson Pittman come fresh to market from the Collection of the North Carolina Museum of Art.
Dubbed the “poet-painter” for his delicate, pastel-hued landscapes, interior scenes, and atmospheric still-lifes, Pittman’s work is defined by its soft, romantic quality and dreamlike color palettes. The auction also features three paintings by Milton Avery, two of which are consigned by a Private Collector in Massachusetts, the other one coming from a Main Line Collection . Lot 87, “The Country Road,” (estimate: $50,000-80,000) is a very representative example of the type of landscapes for which Avery is so well admired. The colorful, semi-abstract composition exhibits bold yet nuanced hues of blues, blacks, pinks and greens.
The Pennsylvania Impressionists section of the sale, which brings the auction to a close, features seven paintings by Fern Coppedge, considered the most significant female artist of the Pennsylvania Impressionist school. Lot 119, “Creek Bridge Snow,” (estimate: $100,000-150,000) depicts on an impressively scaled canvas the Brook at Carversville, a site which the artist and others painted numerous times. The present lot captures the gentle turquoise flow of the Delaware River, which borders bright houses on the river’s banks; all are covered with blotches of deep yellow and shimmering reds. Lot 133, “Canal Lock at Lumberville,” (estimate: $50,000-80,000) again shows a river scene in winter, this time of the quaint New Jersey town situated just across the river from Carversville. Fern Coppedge is most well known for her bright, warm-hued wintry scenes, which were usually set in Bucks County, along the Delaware River. Like many other Impressionists of her time, she was committed to painting year round en plein-air, and frequently braved the elements in a bearskin coat to capture the subtle effects of changing light, a technique at which she particularly excelled.
“Early May – Stockton” by leading Pennsylvania Impressionist Daniel Garber (Lot 124, estimate: $70,000-100,000) shows a church spire rising above a verdant landscape. The present lot, housed in its original Harer frame, is the last representation of the Berean Baptist Church the artist produced, having painted four other views of it between 1931 and 1939. Garber appears to have been fundamentally attracted to the elegant architecture of the church, especially to its highly decorative multi-tiered steeple.
Three works by Edward Willis Redfield explore the artist’s evolving style, as well as the locales that were so formative to him over the course of his long career. Lot 125, “Winter Cedars,” (estimate: $25,000-40,000) is an early painting by the artist, when he was still experimenting with Tonalism. Lot 130, “Road to New Hope,” (estimate: $100,000-150,000) is a classic winter scene of a snowy path in the Bucks County town near Redfield’s own home. Lot 127, “Solitude,” (estimate: $60,000-100,000) which descended through the artist’s family to the present owner, captures the rocky surf at Monhegan Island, in Maine, where the artist and his wife spent many summers. Through lively and rigorous brushstrokes, Redfield infuses a sense of power to the scene, indicating his ongoing fascination with the elements.
Additional Pennsylvania Impressionists highlights include Lot 144, “The Delaware – Winter Morning” by Charles Rosen (estimate: $12,000-18,000), and four paintings by Laurence A. Campbell (b. 1939), notably Lot 150, “Ben Franklin Bridge,” (estimate: $20,000-30,000).
Freeman’s American Art Department specialists have established an international reputation for the successful sale of oil paintings, watercolors, sculptures, and illustrations by American artists. Freeman’s has sold more works by the Pennsylvania Impressionists than any other auction house, and is also the only auction house to have sales dedicated to this exciting collecting area.
A public exhibition will precede the sale, both to be held at Freeman’s Philadelphia headquarters at 1808 Chestnut Street.’