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American Modern, Realist and Regionalist Masters dominate American & European Fine Art auction in Dallas

The Sleigh by Harry Leith-Ross, 1945

The Sleigh by Harry Leith-Ross, 1945

May 27 auction at Heritage Auction Galleries features property from notable private and public collections including Mrs. Ruth Carter Stevenson, descendants of Trompe L’oeil still life painter Alexander Pope, the Wichita Center for the Arts, among others.

A fine array of paintings, drawings, prints and sculpture by major 19th and 20th-century American artists dominate Heritage Auction Galleries May 27 Signature® Fine American & European Art Auction at the company’s Dallas Design District Annex, 1518 Slocum Street. European Old Masters, 19th-century academic painting, and top-notch printmaking by luminaries of French Impressionism are also well represented.

“The 20th-Century American offerings are particularly strong in our spring sale at all price points, and cover a range of aesthetic styles and genres,” said Courtney Case, Associate Director of American & European Paintings at Heritage. “From powerful examples of early 20th-Century Modernism, to mid-century work by iconic African-American artists, to Regionalist work from the heartland and the New Hope School, our current auction has both breadth and depth of quality.”

20th-Century American Modernist highlights include several seminal works of the 1920s and 30s by Jan Matulka, notably his circa 1931 gouache, Cape Ann Abstraction, estimated at $20,000-$30,000, a fine example of the artist’s hard-edged style reminiscent of the work of his friend Stuart Davis; a 1986 casting of Donald Delue’s 1948 bronze Jason (Triumph Over Tyranny), one of 12 produced, estimated at $8,000-$12,000; Paul Cadmus’ mixed media Reading Nude, is expected to bring between $10,000 – $15,000, while Sally Michel Avery’s The Conversation (1977) carries an estimate of $8,000-$12,000 and John Marin’s watercolor, Mountain Country, is attracting bidder attention with a $4,000-$6,000 pre-auction estimate.

Two paintings from renowned African-American painter Romare Bearden, including his 1988 oil Caribbean Harbor, estimated at $10,000-$15,000, anchor a rich group of works by John Biggers, Harvey Johnson, Norman Lewis, Beauford Delaney, Robert Thompson and Jacob Lawrence.

A wide and varied section of important American Regionalist works includes: a superb grouping of Thomas Hart Benton lithographs and drawings; three marvelous paintings of caricatured portrait heads by close Benton pupil from the Kansas City Art Institute days, Roger Norman Medearis, including his 1961 A Talkative Drunk, which carries an estimate of $5,000-$7,000; and four prime lithographs by Iowa’s greatest artist, Grant Wood, creator of America’s most parodied painting, “American Gothic,” whose simple and beautifully-designed landscape July 15th – estimated at $5,000-$8,000 – is sure to be hotly pursued by collectors. Charles Ephraim Burchfield’s Untitled (possibly Green Grove) (1920), estimated at $10,000-$15,000, is another important offering sure to be the subject of heated bidding.

Pennsylvania’s New Hope School luminary Harry Leith-Ross is represented in the auction by a standout landscape entitled The Sleigh, estimated at $60,000-$90,000.

“This snow scene is an important example of the artist’s most famous genre of landscape,” said Case. “Leith-Ross’ ability to paint blistering winter light ranks him among the finest in this specialized branch of landscape painting. He was more descriptive and narrative than Twachtman, but equally skilled in capturing winter’s chilly iridescence. He was an incredible colorist, but an equally skillful compositional designer.”

“Aficionados of 19th-century American painting will discover exceptional opportunities in the current auction,” said Dr. Marianne Berardi, Heritage’s Senior Fine Art Expert. “Collectors will compete for a small but extremely beautiful cluster of Hudson River School landscape paintings by Jasper Francis Cropsey and John Frederick Kensett, whose finest works have become increasingly rare.”

The auction features two works by Cropsey: his Wyoming Valley (Probably, Landscape with Sheep) (1897), known to be the preliminary study for Wyoming Valley, Pennsylvania, 1897 – which gained famed when it was exhibited at the National Academy – is expected to bring $80,000-$120,000, while his vibrant 1880 oil, In the Berkshires, carries a pre-auction estimate of $40,000-$60,000.

“John Frederick Kensett’s Summer Landscape of circa 1860s is one of the gems of the sale, carrying an estimate of $15,000-$20,000,” said Berardi. “This serene view of a light-drenched meadow in midsummer is painted in oil pigments on paper, and is period-mounted to finely woven canvas. Although measuring an intimate 4 x 6 inches, Kensett was capable of conveying in it an astonishing sense of deep panoramic space – a truly remarkable achievement. The scene’s structural clarity is paired with a meticulous rendering of the revealing effects of morning light. It’s the type of effect one usually finds in the work of the greatest portrait miniaturists. It’s a prize to be sure.”

One of the most exciting finds in the auction is a cache of never-before-seen works by American trompe l’oeil and animalier painter, Alexander Pope. The group of works has been residing in the collection of the Pope family for more than five generations. Foremost among the Pope efforts is Dogs In a Kennel, estimated at $80,000-$120,000.

The European side of the auction features a wide array of notable work, highlights of which follow below:

The Old Master category is anchored both by fine prints and paintings. Two richly printed engravings by Albrecht Durer, The Sudarium Held by Two Angels (1513) and St. Anthony Reading (1519), come under the hammer from the Collection of Mrs. Ruth Carter Stevenson. Italian, Dutch and Flemish Old Master paintings include Sumptuous Floral and Fruit Still Life in an Extensive Landscape, 18th Century, attributed to Francesco Lavagna, estimated at $18,000 – $20,000; Jan Victors’ Portrait of a Man as a Shepherd, expected to bring $15,000-$25,000, and Philosophers and Soldiers Among Ancient Ruins, Including the Pyramid of Gaius Cestius, 18th century, from the Circle of Giovanni Paolo Panini, carrying an estimate of $12,000 – $16,000. A painting attributed to Gaetano Vetturali, Italian Scene with Ruins (1700), is estimated at $10,000-$15,000.

From the exquisite collection known simply as Property of a Lady comes one of the standout 19th-century paintings, Étienne Prosper Berne-Bellecour’s A Cavalry Halt (1878), a brilliant oil on canvas estimated at $12,000-$18,000. Another prize from the same period is Gustav Wertheimer’s fantastically romantic, salon-sized Agrippina of 1874, a baroque-inspired treatment of the dramatic myth.

Fine French Impressionist and Fauvist prints from the late 19th century by Pissarro, Morisot, Manet and Matisse are among the top works on paper.

Two School of Paris paintings by Edouard Cortes are the top lots of the European 20th Century offerings. These include his 1952 masterwork, Arc de Triomphe et Avenue de Friedland, 1952, estimated at $30,000-$50,000.

Heritage Auctions, headed by Steve Ivy, Jim Halperin and Greg Rohan, is the world’s third largest auction house, with annual sales more than $600 million, and 500,000+ registered online bidder members. For more information about Heritage Auctions, and to join and gain access to a complete record of prices realized, along with full-color, enlargeable photos of each lot, please visit HA.com.

The Sleigh by Harry Leith-Ross, 1945

The Sleigh by Harry Leith-Ross, 1945

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