NEW YORK – Today Sotheby's announces additional highlights from the historic sales series devoted to the remarkable collection of the late A. Alfred Taubman – legendary collector, philanthropist and businessman – as well as the first public opportunities to view works from the collection.
Elizabeth Goldberg, Head of Sotheby’s American Art Department, said: “Mr. Taubman was a visionary in the field of American art. He was particularly prophetic in collecting works from the 20th century that had yet to be appreciated by the larger market – his group of watercolors by Charles Burchfield, for example, is among the most distinguished in private hands, while the broad planes of vibrant color in Milton Avery’s Blue Figure – Blue Sea illustrate the impact of the artist’s work on the development of American abstraction. Mr. Taubman’s sharp eye extended to the 19th century as well, and the November auction is led by one of the most ambitious and stunning works ever painted by Martin Johnson Heade.”
MARTIN JOHNSON HEADE, THE GREAT FLORIDA SUNSET, 1887. ESTIMATE: $7,000,000–10,000,000.
As one of the greatest examples of the 19th century American Luminist movement, Martin Johnson Heade's The Great Florida Sunset is a monumental achievement. Working from a rich palette of colors, Heade frames the composition with the architecture of towering palm trees to showcase the dramatic effects of the last few moments of waning daylight in a Florida marsh. According to Heade scholar Ted Stebbins, this is almost certainly the largest canvas the artist ever painted. The painting was commissioned by Henry Morrison Flager – noted industrialist and partner of John D. Rockefeller in the Standard Oil Company – and hung in the entrance of his Hotel Ponce de Leon in St. Augustine Florida, which was completed in 1888. Flagler is perhaps best known as the founder of today's modern Florida, and in addition to the Ponce de Leon he also built the legendary Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach.
CHARLES BURCHFIELD, THE RED ADMIRAL, 1961-62. ESTIMATE: $600,000–800,000.
Exceptional in both quality and depth, A. Alfred Taubman’s unprecedented collection of eight works by Charles Burchfield is one of the most important in private hands. The group spans the artist’s output from the 1910s through the 1960s, and is led by The Red Admiral, an exceptional, large-scale watercolor with lively, animated forms that seem to vibrate with intensity. The work is a quintessential demonstration of how the spiritual qualities of the natural world and a deep reverence for the mystery of life informed Burchfield’s work.
WINSLOW HOMER, IN CHARGE OF BABY, 1873. ESTIMATE: $2,000,000–3,000,000.
Winslow Homer ranks as one of the most distinctive talents in the pantheon of American art, celebrated for his mastery of the watercolor medium in particular. Mr. Taubman’s collection offers four works by the iconic artist, led by In Charge of Baby, a watercolor painted in the artist’s pivotal summer of 1873 on the shores of Gloucester, Massachusetts. Mr. Taubman acquired the work in 1987 at Sotheby’s auction of the noted collection of Caroline Ryan Foulke. The selection of works by Homer also features The “Summer Cloud” from 1881 (estimate $1.5/2.5 million). Before being purchased by Mr. Taubman, this work had descended through the same family for over 80 years, having been acquired directly from the artist.
THE COLLECTION OF A. ALFRED TAUBMAN
Sotheby’s New York
4 November 2015
MODERN & CONTEMPORARY ART
5 November 2015
18 November 2015
27 January 2016