DALLAS — On Friday, June 9, Heritage leads its Fine European Signature® Auction with a painting once owned by two great Americans who earned the title of “museum makers” — the exceptional 1888 oil on canvas by William Adolphe Bouguereau was in the personal collections of both John Joseph Albright, who made his fortune in coal and shipping and founded the Albright Art Gallery (later the Albright-Knox) in Buffalo, New York; and Amon G. Carter, Sr., creator and publisher of the Fort-Worth Telegram and progenitor of the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth, Texas. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
The French painter Bouguereau created Bergere (Shepherdess) with the miraculous level of verisimilitude he was known for and that tremendously appealed to wealthy American collectors, both then and now. The painting, which carries an estimate of $500,000-$700,000, is a testament both to the artist’s own skill and to the academic rigor that French painting was known for and seldom found to the same degree in the United States. The painting’s appeal is timeless: Bergere (Shepherdess) depicts a placid young woman sitting in a grassy, moody landscape while holding a darning needle and gazing off just to the right of the viewer’s sightline. The scene captures the moment with the realism of a photograph and yet with all of the ineffable poetry that comes from the artist’s hand.
Remarkably, the original bill of sale for the painting survives in the papers of the American art dealer Charles Warren Cram, who sold the painting to Albright. It is preserved in the Watson Library at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and gives Bouguereau’s original title as Bergere tricotant (Shepherdess knitting).
While the Bouguereau tops the auction, the tightly curated event is made up of 17th- to 19th-century gems that span styles, regions and themes.
“The sale is as wonderfully diverse in terms of subject matter, media, national schools, scale, period and price point as in the past,” said Director of European Art for Heritage Marianne Berardi. “Most of the event is devoted to oil paintings. Highlights include a strong group of French Modernist works including a regatta scene at Deauville by Raoul Dufy, two expressionistic landscapes by Maurice de Vlaminck, and a lush floral bouquet by the Vietnamese-born Le Pho. We also have a nice selection of prints and drawings at the end of the sale.”
As in Heritage’s last European art event in December 2022, Heritage has carefully curated selections of artwork drawn from two private American collections: 19th-century genre and landscape subjects from the estate of actor Eugene Iglesias and Scandinavian paintings from a Colorado private collection.
“Iglesias, who starred in many westerns and crime dramas, traveled widely for his work, but also in pursuit of the exquisite examples of 19th-century academic painting with which he surrounded himself in his hilltop home,” said Berardi.
In this second offering of paintings from the Iglesias estate, highlights include a work by Charles Edouard Delort (French, 1841-1895) titled Friday and one by Luis Alvarez Catala (Spanish, 1836-1901) titled Sunday outing. Friday, which has an estimate of $7,000-$10,000, was once in the acclaimed Haussner Restaurant collection in Baltimore, famous for its thematic focus on food. Delort depicts a chef presenting a splendid catch of the day to the cardinal before he prepares it for his evening meal. Sunday outing depicts a group of schoolgirls enjoying a cultural afternoon under the watchful eye of two chaperoning nuns.
This event marks the second installment of an extensive collection of Nordic landscape painting assembled by an American collector. His personal interests and intellectual passions led him to pursue the artwork of painters from Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Denmark and the Faroe Islands. “The initial works we are offering from this Nordic landscape collection have a strongly modernist bent, and find affinities with French or German artists with whom American collectors are often more familiar such as Cezanne, Gauguin or Nolde,” said Berardi. “I am particularly drawn to the work of two women artists in this offering, one being Kristin Jonsdottir (Icelandic, 1888-1958) and the other Julia Beck (Swedish and French, 1853-1935).”
Jonsdottir’s circa-1940s Fra Þingvollum, estimated at $3,000-$5,000, is a muscular depiction of Þingvellir (Thingvellir), one of Iceland’s most important historical sites and a national park in southwestern Iceland. The rift valley was caused by the separation of two tectonic plates, characterized by rocky cliffs and deep fissures. This is the only place in the world where you can stand between two continental plates; the location is sacred to the Icelandic people.
Beck’s Stjarnklar natt, Normandie (Starry Night, Normandy), from 1911, estimated at $4,000-$6,000, is emblematic of the artist. Beck was a maverick; she was regarded by the Swedes as having turned her back on her own country. Her brand of Impressionism is moodier and deeper in color than the French.
The June 9 auction would not be a Heritage European art auction without the presence of Old Masters. This event is rich in portraits, including two 17th-century Dutch portraits: one by Rembrandt pupil Ferdinand Bol, and the other the only known portrait of a child by Amsterdam portraitist Paulus Hennekyn. The work by Bol, titled Portrait of an old woman and estimated at $15,000-$20,000, was originally attributed to Rembrandt.
And the auction boasts not one but two three-quarter length portraits by celebrated British portraitist Thomas Gainsborough, both from the 1760s. Gainsborough’s works do not come up often in American sales. His Portrait of John Richards, estimated at $40,000-$60,000, was painted in Bath circa 1763; the sitter has been tentatively identified as a cabinetmaker. And Gainsborough’s Portrait of William Hanson depicts a sitter who inherited Osmondthorpe Hall, near Leeds, from his father John Hanson, though later left Yorkshire for London in 1738 to found a business trade with the Levant and Turkey.
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