Barbara Hepworth bronze dominates Freeman’s May 11 auction

Barbara Hepworth, ‘Torso II (Torcello),’ which sold for $642,600

Barbara Hepworth, ‘Torso II (Torcello),’ which sold for $642,600

PHILADELPHIA, Pa.— Freeman’s is pleased to announce the results of its May 11 Modern and Contemporary Art auction, which clearly demonstrates Freeman’s strength in the sale of Modern and Contemporary works by significant artists across multiple media. The 54-lot auction achieved more than $1.8 million, selling all but one lot and eliciting competitive bidding from phone and online buyers.

“There was a strong showing throughout the sale, with interest in paintings, sculpture, prints, and works on paper,” said David Weiss, Head of Sale. “It shows the strength of the market for Modern and Contemporary art, and interest in fine examples by well-known, established artists, with the majority of works being fresh-to-market with strong provenance.”

Floral still life by Maria-Mela Muter, which sold for $53,550

Floral still life by Maria-Mela Muter, which sold for $53,550

The auction was marked by significant interest in 20th century women artists. A floral still life by Maria-Mela Muter—considered the first professional Jewish female painter in Poland—far surpassed its pre-sale high estimate of $18,000 to achieve $53,550. The sale of Zofia (Sophie) Stryjenska’s Harvest Scene was also impressive, ultimately garnering $44,100. But the highlight of the auction was undoubtedly Barbara Hepworth’s Torso II (Torcello), a stunning bronze sculpture that sold for a remarkable $642,600. The piece sparked a competitive bidding war between several buyers, underscoring market demand for works by female artists.

Zofia (Sophie) Stryjenska, ‘Harvest Scene,’ which sold for $44,100

Zofia (Sophie) Stryjenska, ‘Harvest Scene,’ which sold for $44,100

Hepworth’s Torso II was far from the only standout sculpture featured at auction; the Modern and Contemporary Art auction saw several bronzes rise above their pre-sale estimates. Fritz Konig’s Quadriga 60, a bronze with brown patina, nearly quadrupled its pre-sale high estimate of $30,000 to achieve $116,550. Upright Motive E by British artist Henry Moore sold for $30,240; Corn Harvest, a small figurative bronze by American sculptor Allan Houser, achieved $18,900.

Allan Houser, ‘Corn Harvest,’ which sold for $18,900

Allan Houser, ‘Corn Harvest,’ which sold for $18,900

While the auction featured several exemplary works of Modern and Contemporary abstraction, sales confirmed market demand for figurative works. Portraits performed impressively, including Rudolf Bonnet’s Female Figure, Bali, a portrait of a young woman in red and white chalk, which sold for $6,300. Mother and Child, B. Prabha’s portrait in oil, outshone its pre-sale estimate to achieve $18,270 after garnering significant interest from multiple bidders. Blonde Vivienne, a Pop Art take on the portrait by Tom Wesselmann, sold for $16,380.

B. Prabha, ‘Mother and Child,’ which sold for $16,380

B. Prabha, ‘Mother and Child,’ which sold for $16,380

A set of 12 works on paper by Salvador Dali kicked off the auction, exceeding its estimate to achieve $20,160; two paintings by Turkish painter Fikret Mualla performed well back-to-back, realizing $17,640 and $16,380, respectively; and prominent Philadelphia abstractionist Bill Scott’s Honeysuckle sold for $9,450.

 

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