Bonhams' November 19 American Art auction will feature one of the last figural works by prominent early 20th century American artist George Bellows. Two Women, an allegorical work referencing a Renaissance masterpiece by Titian, is estimated at $1,000,000 – 1,500,000.
Bellows' early artistic career was hugely inspired by New York City's dynamic hustle and bustle. He studied under the avant-garde tutelage of Robert Henri where he learned to observe and portray everyday aspects modern American life - a deviation from popular academic painting and Impressionism. Bellows embraced capturing contemporary events before turning to historical and allegorical compositions.
Painted in 1924, a year before Bellows' sudden death, Two Women is an unorthodox homage to Titian's Sacred and Profane Love (ca. 1514). Titan's iconic canvas portrays a clothed woman sitting at a water fountain beside a nude Venus. Two Women's nude and clothed female subjects evoke this image, except for the fact that they are placed in the parlor of Bellows' own home in Woodstock, New York. The women—perhaps one pure and one worldly—look to their right, ignoring the viewer. Bellows includes a variety of compositional juxtapositions resulting in a successful, balanced composition in terms of color and form.
The painting has been widely exhibited at numerous galleries and prestigious museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Art Institute of Chicago, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Brooklyn Museum.
Scouts of Many Trails by the prolific American artist, Norman Rockwell, is another highly anticipated lot. It is estimated at $300,000 – $500,000. This oil sketch is likely an early compositional idea for Scouts of Many Trails as it differs vastly from the final, published version. In this work, an old and seasoned sailor with a parrot on his shoulder regales his young charges with tales of adventures past. The final version of this work served as the cover illustration of the February 1937 issue of Boys' Life.
Rockwell's illustrations graced the covers of a great number of magazine including Life, and The Saturday Evening Post. One such featured work in the upcoming auction, A Light Haired Woman Will Cross Your Path (Fortune Teller with Young Couple) (est. $200,000 – 300,000) was on the cover of the August 12, 1920 issue of Life. This intimate, dimly lit scene conveys an encounter between a young couple and a fortune teller seated in a disorganized, private setting of the fortune-teller's tent. Rockwell capitalized on poignant interactions not only in this current work but throughout his career and illustrations.
A work by another great illustrator and cartoonist, John Philip Falter, Golf Driving Range (est. $80,000 – 120,000) will be on offer. This work was the cover illustration for the July 26, 1952 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. This work is a personal story for Falter. After World War II, the golf bug bit him and the subject is a range he frequented in Bethesda, Maryland. In a letter dated January 16, 1978 Falter commented, "The idea of this cover came from the frustrations of the artist to solve the mysteries of golf. The amateur champion of Kansas got me going and after two years I was a golf nut."
A spectacular work by renowned American Impressionist, Childe Hassam, called Lady in a Garden is estimated at $800,000 – $1,200,000. The oil on canvas was painted circa 1890 and represents one of the many gardens that Hassam visited on Appledore Island, the largest of the Isles of Shoals, just nine miles off the coast of Maine and New Hampshire. Hassam's quick, light brushstrokes create a fantastically playful lighting effect. In the center of his composition, is a silhouette of a female figure, likely Mrs. Childe Hassam who has stopped to admire the blooming foliage.
The auction will also include a sculpture by Paul Manship, Venus Anadyomene, a bronze figure with brown patina sculpted in 1924 and estimated between $40,000 and $60,000; and another bronze with brown patina by Harriet Whitney Frishmuth called Crest of the Wave, estimated between $12,000 and $18,000, which was modeled in 1925.
Other modernist works featured are by American painter, Milton Avery, Paris Pigeons (est. $25,000 – 35,000); Poodle (est. $15,000 – 25,000); and Portrait of a Woman (est. $10,000 – 15,000). A beautiful Cubist work by abstract painter, Suzy Frelinghuysen, entitled Composition 1942 and estimated at $25,000 – 45,000 will also be offered.
The catalog is now available online at http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/21807/.