DALLAS – Recently returned to a family after it was stolen more than 40 years ago, Norman Rockwell’s endearing Lazybones (Boy Asleep with Hoe) is expected to sell for more than $1 million in Heritage Auctions’ American Art Auction on Friday, Nov. 3. The 1919 Saturday Evening Post cover makes its auction debut, highlighting an exceptional array of Golden Age illustration. Absentee and Internet bidding is available through LiveAuctioneers.
Purchased for less than $100 in 1954 and stolen in June of 1976, Norman Rockwell’s painting (above) stands as one of the artist’s first Saturday Evening Post covers, produced in 1919 when he was only 25. Lazybones, also known as Taking a Break, illustrates not simply the classic Rockwell subject of childhood, but the quintessential American prankster-adventurer, Huck Finn. With his straw hat and bandana, work shirt and tattered pants with suspenders, Rockwell’s character comes straight out of the pages of Mark Twain’s celebrated novel. Not least, the painting has its own wild back story, ripped from the headlines, as it was taken from Robert and Teresa Grant’s house in New Jersey during a well-planned burglary. With the help of special FBI agents, the painting was recovered and returned to the family in March.
“The provenance of this masterwork is as remarkable as the painting itself,” said Aviva Lehmann, director of American Art at Heritage Auctions. “We are thrilled to bring this classic Rockwell to auction, and find its new home.”
Heritage Auctions’ Nov. 3 sale also features The Golden Age: Property from a Distinguished New York Collection. Composed of 43 works spanning the Golden Age of Illustration, the single-owner collection embodies an era of unprecedented excellence in magazine and book illustration. The artists of this period captured the nostalgia of simple, innocent times and everyday life through accessible narrative. As such, their content was ideally suited for the imaginative tales published in periodicals of the time, including the Saturday Evening Post, Cosmopolitan, and Ladies Home Journal, among others. A large portion of the collection is comprised of original illustrations that were reproduced as covers of these magazines. Impeccably curated, it features works by the best storytellers of the Golden Age, including works by the iconic Joseph Christian Leyendecker (est. $100,000-$150,000) and a Maxfield Parrish pencil drawing (est. $8,000-$12,000).
Additional iconic works from masters of American illustration art includes Bump Mobile (below), The Saturday Evening Post cover, June 22, 1940, by Albert W. Hampson (est. $30,000-$50,000) and Amateur Nite—Cowboy Bill’s Ramblers, The Saturday Evening Post cover, Jan. 11, 1936, by Monte Crews (est. $20,000-$30,000).
The Nov. 3 auction will also feature a spectacular oil by George Henry Durrie titled Winter in the Country, A Cold Morning (est. $300,000-$500,000). Painted circa 1863, this masterwork romanticizes the seasonal pleasures of bucolic life with great composition and attention to detail, prompting one notable Durrie scholar to proclaim the work “one of his best contributions to native winter landscape painting in the 19th century.”
Offered for the first time in nearly 30 years, William Merritt Chase’s Untitled (Nude Resting in a Chair), circa 1888. Chase executed the pastel as a classroom demonstration while teaching at the Art Students League in New York. The swivel chair upon which the model sits can be seen in a photograph of Chase, standing in his famous Tenth Street Studio in New York that was reproduced in a 1947 article about the famed studio building in The Villager.
Interior (est. $80,000-$120,000) by Louis Ritman is emblematic of the artist’s unique brand of American Impressionism, painted while the artist lived and worked in Giverny, France. Interior has descended in the same family for more than 100 years and was last seen publically in 1912 at the Cincinnati Museum’s “19th Annual Exhibition of American Art.
Other highlights of the auction include:
- Absaroke Trail, 1993, by Howard Terpning (est. $60,000-$80,000)
- Wild Heliotrope near San Juan Capistrano by John Marshall Gamble (est. $40,000-$60,000)
- Third Avenue El, circa 1933 by Francis Criss (est. $30,000-$50,000)