DALLAS – A strong selection of coveted 19th and 20th century paintings headlines the European Art Auction June 4 at Heritage Auctions. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
A particular highlight of the auction is the selection of important paintings by Franz Richard Unterberger, Felix Ziem, Antonio Maria de Reyna Manescau, and Montague Dawson from the Estate of Kenneth Alan Hill, Sr. of Fort Worth, Texas.
Born to a third-generation ranching family in 1941, Hill was educated as a pharmacist and presciently realized in the early 1970s that all pharmacies would eventually be controlled by computer systems. He thus embarked on a lucrative 35-year career of overseeing software and services for the retail pharmacy industry, founding several companies along the way. With his fortune he built palatial homes on Possum Kingdom Lake, on the Venetian Islands in Miami and in Fort Worth, Texas, where he displayed his collection of European paintings featuring marine themes—a collection that grew from a passion for water, which he developed from a young age.
In addition to select works from the Hill Estate, the auction features a moody mid-career painting by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Lisiere de bois, created circa 1845-1855, recording a scene of a peasant on the edge of a dense woodland, stacking twigs in a little pile that he will bring back to his home for kindling. The scene takes place under Corot’s usual overcast sky, and the trees seem to shiver with the windy gusts.
Modernist approaches to landscape are well-represented in the auction as well, with sunny scenes by Charles Camoin, Louis Valtat, and Maximilien Luce; a late work by noted Fauve Andre Derain; and pointillist views by Jeanne Selmersheim-Desgrange and Jacques Martin-Ferrieres.
Notable works by figurative painters are a special highlight. A painting from 1836 of two children selling flowers by the so-called “British Murillo” and child prodigy Emma Jones Soyer is an opportunity for collectors to acquire an artist who is just emerging from art-historical obscurity, and whose paintings will doubtless become increasingly sought after as a result. Another painter from England, Gerald Brockhurst, is represented in the sale by his ravishing fantasy portrait, The War Widow, circa 1923. The Brockhurst painting has had only two owners and is in excellent condition.
The top lot in the auction is a floral still life by the noted French painter, Henri Fantin-Latour, who distinguished himself both in his native France and in England, where his work was assiduously collected. His painting of 1871 entitled Fleurs: camomille et dahlias was first owned by his British friend and dealer, Edwin Edwards, who, together with his wife, Elizabeth, nearly single-handedly created the British market for Fantin. Fleurs: camomille et dahlias is painted with extraordinarily sensitive brushwork and the restricted palette for which Fantin’s work is most highly prized. As an early biographer of the artist noted in 1919, “Fantin studied each flower, each petal, its grain, its tissue as if it were a human face. In Fantin’s flowers, the drawing is large and beautiful; it is always sure and incisive. It is an individual flower and not simply one of a type.” This marvelous work hails from the estate of a celebrated New York collector.
The auction also contains an attractive selection of genre paintings, still life, and Old Master prints by Durer and Rembrandt.
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