PHILADELPHIA — On June 6, Freeman’s will conducts its semiannual American Art and Pennsylvania Impressionists auction, starting at 2 pm Eastern time. The 89-lot sale features an impressive range of rare and fresh-to-market American material, including significant artworks by such prominent artists as Norman Rockwell, Sylvia Shaw Judson, James Abbot McNeill Whistler, Mary Elizabeth Price, and Albert York, among others. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
Sylvia Shaw Judson’s Bird Girl, the highlight of the June 6 sale, is one of the most recognizable American sculptures to ever appear at auction and is estimated at $100,000-$150,000, the highest auction price ever associated with a work by Judson. The life-size statue of a young girl has been in Reading, Pennsylvania for generations, and now makes its first public appearance since 1939. Freeman’s Bird Girl was cast by Roman Bronze Works in New York and is one of four extant original bronzes, the most recognizable of which was photographed by Jack Leigh to appear on the cover of John Berendt’s 1994 bestselling novel Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
Lots 43-48 comprise six Albert York works—five oil paintings and one watercolor—that come to Freeman’s from the same Reading, Pennsylvania collection as Bird Girl, purchased directly from the artist’s longtime dealer, Roy Davis, in the 1960s. This selection features still lifes, the pastoral scenes for which York is best known, such as Reflections in the Pond, estimated at $60,000-$100,000, and figurative work, as in the bold, exquisite Ostrich Feathers (Portrait of the Artist’s Wife, Virginia Caldwell), which is estimated at $15,000-$25,000.
The auction will feature Piney Rest Motel (Cozy Rest Motel) by Norman Rockwell, marking the painting’s first time at auction. It carries an estimate of $100,000-$150,000. Painted in the 1950s and directly gifted by Rockwell to the family of the present owner, the work was probably intended as a cover for the famous Philadelphia-based magazine The Saturday Evening Post. This quintessential American scene rendered in oil and pencil is an unmissable piece for serious collectors of illustration art.
The paintings on offer by Pennsylvania Impressionists in the June 6 auction feature local landscapes, including Daniel Garber’s Houses – Shannonville. Estimated at $150,000-$250,000, it depicts a sun-dappled summer scene painted along the Schuylkill River Trail in what is now Audubon, Pennsylvania. The painting is housed in its original Badura frame and has never before appeared at auction. Island Farm (The Artist’s House), by Edward Willis Redfield, offers a more autumnal vision of southeastern Pennsylvania and features the artist’s first house in Bucks County. That painting is estimated at $100,000-$150,000. Another Bucks County landscape, this one covered in snow, is George William Sotter’s A Bucks County Landmark. Estimated at $100,000-$150,000, it pictures the since-destroyed Old Grist Mill. The painting is accompanied by a handwritten note by Sotter in which he describes the work as “one of my best paintings.”
The sale also includes a number of impressive works by significant woman artists, including Mary Elizabeth Price’s Mallows, estimated at $50,000-$80,000, and three works by Fern Isabel Coppedge. Rounding out the highlights is a striking bronze statue by Boris Lovet-Lorski, Diana, estimated at $60,000-$100,000.
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