American Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture Sale at Sotheby’s

 A Federal Parcel-Gilt and Brass Inlaid Mahogany Swivel-top Card Table ATTRIBUTED TO CHARLES HONORÉ LANNUIER was sold for $27,500 at Christie's
A Federal Parcel-Gilt and Brass Inlaid Mahogany Swivel-top Card Table ATTRIBUTED TO CHARLES HONORÉ LANNUIER was sold for $27,500 at Christie's

One day after the Christie’s sale, Sotheby’s “American Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture” sale obtained a similar result: $2,177,428 in total, 65.6% sold by lot, 77.5% sold by value.

The top lot is “Sailing at Twilight” by Francis Silva for $86,500. Henry Inman’s giant canvas of six children fetched a astonishing  price of $62,500, exceeding its previous high estimate of $18,000.

According to the press release:

Jennifer Roth, Head of Fine Arts at Sotheby’s, said, “We saw today that, as always, quality works that are fresh to the market perform well, as evidenced by the excellent price achieved for the Francis Silva, lot 47, Sailing at Twilight, which brought the sale’s top price of $86,500 against an estimate of $40/60,000. Henry Inman’s striking early 19th century portrait depicting all six children of a prominent New York family sold for $62,500. William Henry Burr’s The Scissor Grinder, a charming genre scene, as well as works by Henry Bacon and JG Brown, also sold well. In general, works from the 19th Century fetched high prices, a shift from the last few years when we saw modernist works dominating the lists of top lots. All the same, two tall panels by the creator of the children’s book character “Madeleine”, Ludwig Bemelmans — one a view of Paris and one of Rome — attracted spirited bidding, each selling well above its high estimate. We saw strength in the Western market, particularly for the landscapes of Birger Sandzen and for western sculpture; bronzes by Remington, Humphriss and Kauba all exceeded their high estimates.”

On the same day, Christie’s “Important American Furniture, Folk Art and Prints” didn’t meet expectation with the top two lots: a Chippendale Mahogany Bombé Chest-of-Drawers (estimated between $500,000 – $800,000) and a hand-carved decoy (estimated $200,000 – $400,000) didn’t find a buyer. While I admired the Bombé chest, I didn’t expect a decoy bird displayed at the center of the showroom was one of the top lots. A similar one was sold for more than half a million dollars, but that was in the height of boom years (2007).

About Hui

Wang Hui lived from 1632 - 1717 and followed in the footprints of his great grandfathers, grandfather, father and uncles and learned painting at a very early age. He was later taught by two contemporary masters, Zhang Ke and Wang Shimin, who taught him to work in the tradition of copying famous Chinese paintings. This is most likely the reason why critics claim that his work is conservative and reflects the Yuan and Song traditions. One critic claimed that "his landscape paintings reflect his nostalgic attachment to classical Chinese aesthetics. Along with the other Wangs, Wang Hui helped to perpetuate the tradition of copying the ancient masters rather than creating original work.

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