10 Specialist Picks from American Art

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American Art features an exciting selection of works from many distinguished collections, both institutional and private, including the Denver Art Museum, The Bank of America Collection, the Jeffrey M. Kaplan Collection, the Collection of Allan Stone and the Collection of George S. Parker II From the Caxambas Foundation. Click ahead for a closer look at 10 must-see specialist picks that reflect the wide variety of works that are offered in the sale, and view the works in person at Sotheby's New York from 1–6 April.

American Art
7 April | New York

10 Specialist Picks from American Art

  • Paul Kelpe, Composition #518. Estimate $8,000–12,000.
    Composition #518   is a wonderful and rare example of Paul Kelpe’s unique, precise and elegant expression of three-dimensional geometric abstraction.  Kelpe, born and raised in Germany, studied with Vassily Kandinsky and László Moholy Nagy and was part of the avant- garde circle that included Kurt Schwitters, Naum Gabo and El Lizzitsky.  When he immigrated to the United States in 1925, he became one of the first champions of modernism and abstraction at a time when the realistic style of American Regionalism was all the rage.

  • Charles Webster Hawthorne, Acampora (Girl Dressed for Communion). Estimate $7,000–10,000.
    Charles Hawthorne was a master of portraiture and this penetrating character study of a young girl dressed for her first communion beautifully captures the essence of his style. As viewers, he engages us immediately with her dark, soulful eyes, which gaze calmly and directly at us.  The white veil is an ingenious device which gently frames her face by emphasizing and contrasting with her tawny skin.  The sitter is Mayme Noons, a popular model for Hawthorne and other Provincetown artists.  After he moved to Provincetown in 1899, Hawthorne drew constant artistic inspiration from the local Portuguese colony of fishermen and their families.

  • William Zorach, Maine Houses. Estimate $4,000–6,000.
    Executed in 1918, the present work was created while the Zorachs, along with the John Marins and the Bertram Hartmans, spent the summer in Stonington, Maine. This work was created under the influence of the Cubist and Fauvist movements Zorach was exposed to during his time in Paris, where he met his wife, Marguerite.  

  • William Trost Richards, Grey Cliff – Conanicut. Estimate $15,000–25,000.
    William Trost Richards first summered in Newport, Rhode Island in 1874 and immediately became entranced by its natural beauty. After several years abroad, he returned to Newport in 1880 to find it had become too crowded for his taste. Across the Narragansett Bay, he found the island of Conanicut more suitable to his need for isolation and built a home there in 1881. This home, where he enjoyed many summers with his family, was named Greycliff after the granite cliffs on the coast line.

  • Walter Gay, La Cheminée. Estimate $5,000–7,000.
    In 1876, at age twenty, Walter Gay, a native of Massachusetts, went to Paris to study art and never left.  Eschewing the avant-garde, modernist trends around him, he chose, instead to focus his brush on the quiet elegance of the eighteenth century interiors in which he and his wife, Matilda, chose to surround themselves.  The artist painted several versions of La Cheminée, one of the fireplaces in their apartment on the Left Bank at 11, Rue de l’Université, when they first moved there, around 1910.  Typically, for Gay, there is no human presence in this interior landscape, but, it is implied.  I find humanity, warmth, even coziness, in the clearly used candle on its candlestick and the haphazard, messy placement of the books on the mantle, which look as though they have been handled just recently and are waiting for a member of the household to put them back in their proper place.

  • James Edward Buttersworth, Clearing Skies. Estimate $20,000–30,000.
    Painted in the early 1840s, the present work reflects the influence of James Buttersworth's father and teacher, Thomas Buttersworth Jr. This work was created prior to the younger Buttersworth coming to the United States in 1845, at which point, being free from his father's oversight, his style began to change.

  • Norman Rockwell, Portrait of Patricia Mernone. Estimate $30,000–50,000.
    Rockwell painted Patricia Mernone, one of the great women American sports car drivers of the 1960s, at the height of her fame.  Academically trained as an organic micro-analytical chemist, she became interested in racing in in 1961, when her father took-up the sport.  By 1968, she had competed in at least 28 major races in the United States and placed first or second in at least 12 of them.  Described as slim, petite and feminine, Mernone was an aggressive force to be reckoned with on the track. 

  • Anthony Thieme, Scavengers of the Sea. Estimate $10,000–15,000.
    Thieme, known as the ‘Master of Light and Shadow’, did most of his painting en plein air, to best capture the evanescence of nature.  He moved to Rockport, Massachusetts in 1929, when the scenic village was still a burgeoning artist’s colony and for many years kept a studio in St. Augustine, Florida, as well. His output was prolific and he is best known for his coastal scenes of both places.  The present work wonderfully showcases his talent for atmospheric effects. With its reserved color palette in tones of gray, blue, and white, the artist conveys the heavy, sultry atmosphere of a summer day as a colony of gulls gracefully dive to feed. 

  • Walter Tandy Murch, Motor Parts. Estimate $12,000–18,000.
    Paintings by Walter Murch bring an ethereal, otherworldly glow to mundane objects, such as machine parts, broken clocks, lightbulbs and dolls. The marred and pitted surfaces he creates on the objects within his still lives evokes a sense of emotional resonance for items which once were of great importance, but have fallen into disuse. Murch's style is difficult to classify, as there are elements of Magic Realism, Photorealism, and Surrealism in each of his works.  

  • Jasper Francis Cropsey, Landscape Study. Estimate $15,000–20,000.
    A prominent member of the 2nd generation of Hudson River School painters, Jasper Francis Cropsey is known for his romantic and luminous landscapes. Painted during the peak of his popularity, the present work shows Cropsey working out how best to capture the light and reflections off of the pond in the foreground.

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