Los Angeles/San Francisco – The August 7 auction of California and Western Paintings and Sculpture at Bonhams offered a wide array of important Impressionist work, Western scenes, Plein Air, Society of Six and land and cityscapes. Simulcast to San Francisco, the highly-anticipated auction brought more than $2.4 million and featured artists such as August Gay, Edgar Payne, Granville Redmond, William Frederick Ritschel, Guy Rose, Jack Wilkinson Smith and William Wendt, among others.
Scot Levitt, Vice President and Fine Arts Department Head said of the sale, "The market for California and Western paintings and sculpture continues to be strong. Robust participation was seen in a number of collecting areas including early California Impressionism. Interest in the August preview and sale reflected an ongoing constancy in the marketplace for early and fresh-to-market works."
Leading the auction was "Matin de Novembre" Guy Rose (est. $250,000-350,000), sold for $458,500. Rose and his wife purchased a stone cottage in Giverny in 1899. They spent many summers there over the next thirteen years. Rose's painting style was deeply influenced by Claude Monet and his paintings of scenes in and around Giverny reflect this. In "Matin de Novembre," much of the focus is on the water's reflection. The painting appears monochromatic, and yet on closer inspection Rose has given the viewer a rich variety of subtle blues, greens, pinks, purple, lavender and yellows. He has captured the scene precisely as he found it on that early November morning. The stillness of the river and the absence of people add to the effect of a moody, calm morning. Rose appreciated the solitude of nature, which is reflected in his work. As Ethel Rose wrote of her husband, he 'loved the country and was always happy when alone and occupied'. "Matin de Novembre" typifies the classic Impressionist style as seen through the eyes of those witnessing Giverny at its grandest and most influential.
According to Levitt, "The works Rose created during his time in France, such as "Matin de Novembre," are highly sought-after at public auction. The painting is considered by many to be one of his masterworks. Bonhams was delighted to present "Matin de Novembre" during the summer auction.
Also featured within the Impressionist section of the August sale were three paintings by noted Plein Air artist Granville Redmond titled "Coastal wildflowers" (est. $80,000-120,000, sold for $122,500), "Mount Tamalpais in moonlight with a moored vessel in the marshes below" (est. $30,000-50,000, sold for $27,500) and "Sailboats on calm seas" (est. $20,000-30,000, sold for $ 17,500). Bonhams continues to hold the world auction record for a painting by Redmond, which was set in April of 2009 for $542,000.
Western paintings of note included the auction catalog's cover lot "Canyon gateway" by Edgar Payne (est. $200,000-300,000, sold for $230,500). In the work, Payne's skill as a master of composition and color are on ready display. He expertly depicts the immensity of the Navajo environment. Payne crafts the sun-baked red rock walls with bright salmon highlights on the right side of the picture. The left side and center of the picture contrast with cool blue and purple shadows with the occasional splash of salmon. The Navajos make their way out of the canyon positioned between green highlights which run in a horizontal band on the painting. These diminutive riders and their abrupt shadows give the eye a moment of intimacy despite being under a bright blue sky with scattered boldly painted white clouds.
Additional works by Payne featured in the August sale included "Sailboats in harbor" (est. $30,000-50,000, sold for $68,500) and "Concarneau harbor" (est. $30,000-50,000, sold for $56,250).
Of the many important works of California and Western art offered, significant prices were achieved for "Evening tide, California coast" by William Frederick Ritschel (est. $80,000-120,000, sold for $80,500), "A vista towards Mt. Baldy" by William Wendt (est. $40,000-60,000, sold for $56,250), "The brook" also by Wendt (est. $40,000-60,000, sold for $47,500), "Sierra" by Jack Wilkinson Smith (est. $40,000-60,000, sold for $43,750) and "View near Monterey" by August Gay (est. $20,000-30,000, sold $48,750), among others.
Auctions of California and Western Paintings and Sculpture will continue in December 2012.
The illustrated auction catalog will be available online for review and purchase in the weeks preceding the sale at www.bonhams.com.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and appraisal services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to www.bonhams.com