A view of Mackerel Cove at Jamestown, Rhode Island, fetched $1,650,500, triple the previous auction record for a work by 19th c. artist William Trost Richards at Christie's on Wed. The total figure of $22,193,800 for the Important American Paintings, Drawings, and Sculpture sale was up over 2010's results even while just 88 of 138 lots sold (64% sold by lot).
The Richards seascape, dating from 1894, more than doubled its low estimate of $700,000. The oil on canvas went to Caldwell Gallery of Manlius, New York.
A private European buyer snapped up Frederick Carl Frieseke's 1915 nude in a landscape, titled Sunspots, for $1,022,500. It was a highlight among the offerings from The Westervelt Company whose corporate collection of American art, with parts recently dispersed at auction and private sales, was assembled by its former CEO, Jonathan "Jack" Warner.
The Westervelt works, including the record-breaking W.T. Richards, achieved an aggregate total of $6.7 million, well under an expected total of $10 million. (Major works from the collection have reportedly been sold privately.)
Sixteen of 29 lots from the Westervelt collection did not sell, including Childe Hassam's Celia Thaxter's Garden, Appledore, Isles of Shoals; Charles Burchfield's Glory to God; and Willard Leroy Metcalf's The Passing Glory.
The sale's featured lot, Boston School artist Frank W. Benson's Eleanor and Benny, estimated at $3,000,000-5,000,000 and from a private collection, also failed to attract a winning bid.
Top lot honors went to Maxfield Parrish's North Wall Panel, 1928, which fell within its presale estimate of $2,000,000- 3,000,000 to fetch $2.8 million. Originally commissioned by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney for her Fifth Avenue mansion, the panoramic 18-foot work features a number of recognizable faces, including the artist's.
Faring very well was a coastal scene by California Impressionist Guy Rose (1867-1925), titled Martin's Point, Carmel, which brought $890,500 from a $300,000-500,000 estimate.
Eric Widing, Christie's Head of American Paintings, said, "The sale...saw the return of many private American collectors to the saleroom in addition to a few foreign buyers."
(Prices include buyer's premium.)