San Francisco – An iconic William Wendt oil painting, "The Old Coast Road," circa 1916, achieved $1,565,000 – more than doubling its $600,000 high estimate and setting the new record for the highest price achieved for a work by the artist – in Bonhams' sale of California & Western Paintings & Sculpture on April 28. The painting graces the cover of the best known book on California Impressionism titled "Plein Air Painters of California: The Southland" by Ruth Westphal and it is arguably the best known California painting to be sold from private hands.
The West Coast auction in which it sold was a well-attended success, bringing $5,179,625 and selling 86 percent of its lots by value.
The director of Fine Arts at Bonhams in Los Angeles, Scot Levitt, commented of the sale, "This was the most exciting sale that I have had the distinction to auction in my 30 years working with the company. The William Wendt painting has been the most iconic California image since it graced the cover of the first-ever illustrated compilation of plein air painters in 1983. It was fitting that it sold for triple the artist's previous auction record. The sale overall produced strong results and sent a clear message that the California and Western art markets are alive and thriving."
A second work that flew past its high estimate (of $800,000) in the sale was Walter Ufer's "Indian Entertainer" which sold for $1,025,000. The oil on canvas, painted in 1926, depicts Ufer's friend and model of more than 20 years, Jim Mirabel, playing a drum before a Pueblo Moki backdrop. It captures a transitional moment in the history of the American West.
Additional notable lots in the sale included Edgar Payne's "Laguna Breakers," that sold for $293,000 and another William Wendt painting from the same Laguna Beach collection as the first – "Misty Morning, Santa Ana Canyon," that realised $143,000.
Records for the second highest auction price achieved were set for Henrietta Shore's "Waterfall," that brought $215,000 and Enoch Wood Perry's "Vernal Falls, Yosemite Valley," that took in $112,500.
Rounding out the sale's highlights, Granville Redmond's "Nocturne" sold for $118,750 and a record high was achieved for William Posey Silva's "Springtime in Runnymede, South Carolina," which brought $100,000.
To view additional results from the sale, please visit www.bonhams.com/auctions/22391/.
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 valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to www.bonhams.com