An outstanding auction of Old Master Through Modern Prints at Swann Galleries on Thursday, November 2 offers seven lots with an estimate at or above $100,000, more than any from the house’s Prints & Drawings department in nearly ten years. Rare and museum-quality prints from the fifteenth- to twentieth centuries act as an overview of the evolution of Western printmaking, and chronicle the dramatic changes of the latter half of the millennium.
A powerful section of works by American artists in the first half of the twentieth century is led by Edward Hopper’s scarce and haunting etching, The Lonely House, 1923, with an estimate of $150,000 to $200,000. Gritty, iconic views of working-class Manhattan by Hopper’s mentor Martin Lewis, including Snow on the El, 1931, and Relics (Speakeasy Corner), 1928 (each with a value of $40,000 to $60,000), are complemented by works executed during his Depression-era stay in the suburbs with friend and fellow artist Armin Landeck. Regionalists Thomas Hart Benton, Grant Wood and Paul Landacre are well represented with pastoral scenes evoking the anxiety of encroaching technology.
A run of works by Pablo Picasso includes myriad media from all periods of his decades-long career. The aquatint and etching Faune dévoilant une femme, 1934, is valued at $80,000 to $120,000, while La Grande Corrida, avec Femme Torero, an etching of the same year, is expected to sell between $70,000 and $100,000.
Seminal works from the dawn of printmaking in Europe include such iconic works as Israel van Meckenem’s engraving, The Dance of the Daughters of Herodias, circa 1480, with an estimate of $80,000 to $120,000. A run of scarce and powerful works by the master of engraving Albrecht Dürer is led by The Nemesis, circa 1501-02, estimated at $80,000 to $120,000. Additional early prints by the visionary include Coat-of-Arms with a Skull, 1503, and The Sea Monster, before 1500 ($50,000 to $80,000 and $40,000 to $60,000, respectively). An after-print of Heironymus Bosch’s engraving The Temptation of St. Anthony, 1561, replete with distended frogs and damned souls, is valued at $40,000 to $60,000. Works by Pieter Bruegel, Hans Baldung Grien, Augustin Hirschvogel and Lucas van Leyden—the latter’s 1510 engraving Ecce Homo is valued at $40,000 to $60,000—will also be available.
Etchings covering a variety of subjects by Rembrandt van Rijn, with portraits, nudes and landscapes, are led by the 1633 etching Self Portrait in a Cap and Scarf with the Face Dark: Bust, at $30,000 to $50,000.
Francisco José de Goya is well-represented in the sale with lithographs and portfolios, including the limited first edition of Los Caprichos, circa 1799, complete with 80 etchings with aquatint, condemning the foibles of the aristocracy and clergy, which carries an estimate of $70,000 to $100,000. Also from the eighteenth century come two works by the master of English faunal portraits, George Stubbs: the 1788 mezzotint A Sleeping Cheetah, and an engraving with stippling, etching and roulette from the same year, A Horse Frightened by a Lion, each with an estimate of $20,000 to $30,000.
Nineteenth-century works include James Ensor’s hand-colored etching, La Vengeance de Hop-Frog, 1898, a macabre scene probably based on a short story by Edgar Allan Poe, in which Hop-Frog the jester hangs tarred, flaming noblemen on a chandelier. Ensor’s prints are often extensively hand-colored with watercolor and gouache, making each a unique work of art; this one has an estimate of $60,000 to $90,000. Another work by Goya, Picador Caught by a Bull, 1825, was likely an experimental lithograph for Los Toros de Burdeos ($80,000 to $120,000). Also available are works by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec and Odilon Redon, whose 1892 lithograph Arbre is expected to sell between $50,000 and $80,000.
A strong selection of works by German Expressionists is led by the 1912 woodcut Prophet, by Emil Nolde, and Edvard Munch’s 1902 etching Puberty, each with a value of $30,000 to $50,000. A rare woodcut by Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Frau im Stuhl, 1913, carries an estimate of $25,000 to $35,000. Across the border in Austria, Egon Schiele created the drypoint Kümmernis in 1914; in this sale, it is valued at $12,000 to $18,000.
The complete catalogue and bidding information is available at www.swanngalleries.com.
Swann Auction Galleries