Two days of art results in $3.6 million in sales for Freeman's. Both the December 4 American Art & Pennsylvania Impressionists and December 6 Modern & Contemporary Art auctions boasted tightly curated selections of fresh to market works from private collections, bringing competitive bidding from across the globe for works by such heavy hitters as N.C. Wyeth, Frederic Remington, Zao-Wou-Ki, and James Ensor.
Sunday's American Art & Pennsylvania Impressionists auction featured vistas of the Pennsylvania countryside, visions of the American West, and iconic works of illustration art. The standing room only crowd vied against bidders from the internet and the phones, resulting in a total of $1.8 million in sales for works by some of the most significant names in American art. The top lot of the day was Edward Willis Redfield's "Road to the River" which brought $200,000, asserting Freeman's place as the go-to auction house for Pennsylvania Impressionists.
Considered by many to be the greatest artist of the American West, Frederic Remington's "The Broncho Buster" soared above pre-sale estimates to sell for for $106,250. Also featured in a section of works highlighting the romance of the American West, German born artist Winold Reiss's extraordinary triptych depicting members of the Blackfoot tribe realized $125,000.
Other stand outs include works from the ever growing collection group of illustration artists. N.C. Wyeth's "The Departure of the Rose (The Mother of the Hero)" initially made as an illustration for Charles Kingsley's novel Westward Ho! or, the Voyages and Adventures of Sir Amyas Leigh, Knight, of Burrough was one of the heroes of the auction, selling for $112,500. "Red Rose Girls" Jessie Wilcox Smith and Elizabeth Shippen Green also performed well, with Green's delightful work New Kodak more than doubling original estimates, bringing $40,525.
Two days later on December 6, Freeman's Modern & Contemporary Art auction matched the success of the American Art auction, also realizing $1.8 million in sales with an impressive 89% sell through rate. This sale was anchored by fresh to market works, many of which had not been seen outside of private collections for many years or in some cases, decades. Department head Dunham Townend remarked of the sale that it 'clearly shows that quality, fresh material is in high demand."
Featured prominently in the sale were a group of eight works by pioneering master of modern arts and design, Harry Bertoia, which together sold for a combined $378,750 . The section showed the artist's oeuvre, with fine examples of his bush and spray forms, as well as sonambient, or sounding sculpture. Bertoia's work Sea Anemone took top honors of the day, exceeding pre-auction estimates to sell for $137,500. An untitled sonambient work also achieved high results, bringing $87,500.
From the collection of Albert Croquez came the stand out lot of the day, a two sided drawing by James Ensor, "La Paresse" and "La Luxure." This double-sided drawing depicts the artist’s original pencil studies for the sins of Sloth and Lust for a portfolio of satirical etchings entitled "The Seven Deadly Sins." Albert Croquez , in addition to being a prominent lawyer, art collector and historian , was also one of Ensor's closest friends. The added personal element of these studies as a gift between friends helped fuel the competitive bidding for the piece, resulting in a final sale price of $106,250 - more than quadrupling the original estimate.
Another standout from the Modern & Contemporary sale came from Chinese artist Zao Wou-Ki. Painted in 1951, just three years after leaving his native China, an early example of work by the artist, "Sans Titre" (Assisi) soared to an impressive $110,500 result.
Top Lots of the American Art & Pennsylvania Impressionists Auction
Top Lots of the Modern & Contemporary Art Auction
Images: Harry Bertoia, Sea Anemone (Bush), Sold for $137,500 on 12/04/16; Edward Willis Redfield, "Road to the River" Sold for $200,000 on 12/04/16