Centre Bridge, Pennsylvania, was one of the most meaningful places to Pennsylvania Impressionist Edward Willis Redfield, who often featured the Delaware River area surrounding his home in his works. He painted a beautiful winter scene of the spot in his circa 1926 oil on canvas, The Road to Centre Bridge; he captured it burning in a fire in The Burning of Centre Bridge; and he depicted its rebuilt state in Centre Bridge.Two of the paintings come to auction from two branches of Redfield’s family during Freeman’s American Art & Pennsylvania Impressionist auction June 7, with The Road to Centre Bridge estimated at $150,000 to $250,000 and Centre Bridge expected to bring in $120,000 to $180,000. Redfield’s pieces are included in the more than 120 lots featuring works by many artists who were contemporaries, friends, co-workers and acquaintances. The New Hope art colony in Pennsylvania was an affordable area with convenient travel to Philadelphia and New York, allowing artists to make livings as academy instructors while they pursued their art in a dramatic landscape surrounded by rolling hills.
Redfield, who was one of the first painters to settle in the area in 1898, was one of the most highly awarded American artists of his time, a serious painter who would often paint in the snow wearing his bearskin coat. He was careful about pieces he lent out and destroyed works he didn’t feel were up to his own standard, making the legacy he left the highest quality works he felt he made. Redfield influenced fellow auction artist George William Sotter, whose oil on board The Hill Road in Winter is a nocturnal scene expected to fetch between $30,000 and $50,000. A version nearly triple in size of the same scene, The Hill Road Winter, brought in more than $150,000 during Freeman’s December auction, which was the auction house’s most successful sale in about 10 years.
A fresh to market work featured is Daniel Garber’s oil on canvas Shadows, painted in 1922 and originally published as an illustration in Harper’s Magazine. Freeman’s vice chairman and American Art & Pennsylvania Impressionist department head Alasdair Nichol says the work contains characteristics collectors desire in a Garber piece, such as the bright colors and complex composition.The work, like Redfield’s, features a setting close to Garber’s home, a cottage in Buck’s County, Pennsylvania.The work was inherited from the consigners’ parents, who purchased it from a Philadelphia gallery around 1970. “I think a work has a huge impact when it’s fresh to market,” says Nichol, pointing out fresh works in a 2014 auction achieved prices up to five times their estimates. Shadows is estimated at $150,000 to $250,000. Another painter with illustrative success featured at auction is N.C. Wyeth, whose 1920 oil on canvas I Reaped It My Way, for I Cut Nothing Off But the Ears, and Carried It Away in a Great Basket Which I Had Made is estimated at $100,000 to $150,000. Nichol comments there is currently strong interest in illustration art among high-profile collectors.
A rare auction piece comes in Robert Spencer’s 1920 oil on canvas The Little Village, the work by the New Hope artist depicting a daytime scene featuring bright colors and figures, a piece that is less dark than his scenes focusing on hardship. As many of his works were destroyed, the offering is notable.
Nichol says he continues to see new collectors come into the market, with recent sales indicating a climate that is signifi bouncing back in recent years. “There’s a bit more confidence now,” says Nichol, who says the auction sees buyers from across the nation, including Pennsylvania transplants who have migrated across the country.“Collectors are a pretty enthusiastic bunch, calling ahead wondering what we’ll be offering.”
This story is printed courtesy of American Fine Art Magazine. Visit them online at www.americanfineartmagazine.com.