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Heritage Auctions’ American art sale tops $6M

Norman Rockwell (American, 1894-1978) Grandfather and Grandson, 1929, oil on canvas. Sold for $447,000. Heritage Auctions image

DALLAS – A tour de force by Howard A. Terpning sold for $585,000 to become one of 15 lots to post six-figure results and lead Heritage Auctions’ July 1 American Art event to its $6,030,625 total. Absentee and Internet live bidding was available through LiveAuctioneers.

“It was thrilling for us to watch feverish competitive bidding, the likes of which we have not seen in certain categories for quite some time,” said Heritage Auctions’ Vice President and Director of American Art Aviva Lehmann. “There was so much bidding that we only got through about 30 lots in the first hour. The market demand for Hudson River School, Illustration and Western Art is voracious, and we are so happy that we could deliver a quality auction that catered perfectly to our clients’ needs and wants.”

Norman Rockwell’s Grandfather and Grandson, 1929 came from the Dixon Ticonderoga Collection and found a new home at $447,000. By arguably the most popular American artist of all time, Grandfather and Grandson (above) is another in the line of Rockwell paintings that brings out the heart of the American family, including the interaction between generations.

The first lot to cross the auction block in the event, Frederic Remington’s Water!, circa 1890, nearly tripled its estimate when it brought $300,000. Initially featured in the November 1890 issue of The Century Magazine, the work (below) accompanied an article titled “The First Emigrant Train to California” by Gen. John Bidwell.

Frederic Remington (American, 1861-1909) ‘Water!’ circa 1890, oil on canvas. Sold for $300,000. Heritage Auctions image

One fascinating story emerged when the result for Joseph Christian Leyendecker’s New Year’s Baby Hitching to War, The Saturday Evening Post unpublished cover, 1943 climbed to $275,000, nearly 4.5 times the low estimate and the fifth-highest amount ever paid for a work by the artist. The image that was supposed to be Joseph Christian Leyendecker’s final cover for The Saturday Evening Post, but it never reached the magazine … or public view. Of particular note is that the consignor, who had received the painting as a gift by the family of E. Huber Ulrich, chairman and CEO of Curtis Publishing Co., The Saturday Evening Post’s parent, will keep just a fraction of a fraction of the money made, opting to re-route the majority of it to Wilkinson’s family.

Joseph Christian Leyendecker (American, 1874-1951), ‘New Year’s Baby Hitching to War,’ ‘The Saturday Evening Post’ unpublished cover, 1943, oil on canvas. Sold for $275,000. Heritage Auctions image

John Ford Clymer’s The Lewis Crossing also fared exceptionally well, nearly tripling its low estimate when it closed at $225,000. The painting was once exhibited in the Whitney Gallery of Western Art at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming. The artist is known for intense research of the area he intended to paint, followed by trips to the locations to study the area, a process that led to a high level of detail and historical accuracy that can be seen in this painting.

John Ford Clymer (American, 1907-1989), ‘The Lewis Crossing,’ oil on board. $225,000. Heritage Auctions image

Nine collectors pursued Leyendecker’s Yule (Musical Jester), The Saturday Evening Post cover, Dec. 26, 1931 until it drew a winning bid of $212,500. Leyendecker was one of the most popular and successful artists from the golden age of illustration, thanks in large part to the design and style he often used in his images for magazine covers, including the offered lot.

Albert E. Backus (American, 1906-1991), ‘Ocean Cottages,’ oil on canvas. Sold for $62,500, a record for the artist. Heritage Auctions image

Two new auction records were established in the auction: Albert E. Backus’ Ocean Cottages, which sold for $62,500, and Anita Huffington’s sculpture titled Spring II, 1993, which achieved $21,250.

Robert Henri (American, 1865-1929), ‘Blond Bridget Lavelle,’ 1928, oil on canvas. Sold for $200,000. Heritage Auctions image

Other top lots included:

– Robert Henri, Blond Bridget Lavelle, 1928: $200,000.

– John Philip Falter, Bill’s Bird House, The Saturday Evening Post cover, May 8, 1948: $181,250.

– G. Harvey Cimarron, Cowhands, 1993: $175,000.

– Maxfield Parrish, A Dark Futurist, Life magazine cover, March 1, 1923: $162,500.

– Martin Grelle, Where Waters Run Cold, 2012: $125,000.

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