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Birger Sandzen, figural study, estimated at $8,000-$10,000 at Soulis.

Unusual figural study by Birger Sandzen highlights Soulis June 6-7

LONE JACK, MO — A highly unusual figural study by Birger Sandzen is one of the more intriguing lots highlighting Soulis Auctions‘ 26th Annual Spring Fine Art Auction, scheduled for Thursday, June 6 and Friday, June 7.

Best known for his landscapes, Sandzen (1871-1954) was still in Sweden and studying under Anders Zorn, who is remembered as a painter of nudes and portraits and as a painter of light, when this work was created.

“Rather than being a landscape or perhaps a floral still life from the second quarter of the 20th century, like most Sandzen works on the market, this is from the late 19th century, and it’s a fascinating example of the student displaying their talent by doing just what their instructor must have been directing them to,” said Dirk Soulis of Soulis Auctions, adding, “It’s easy to see in this painting the influence of the Swedish artist Anders Zorn, under whom Sandzen was studying at the time. The painting says something about skill and development while at the same time being an attractive work.”

The 1892 Sandzen study is estimated at $8,000-$10,000, and is one of eight Sandzen items in the sale.

Soulis has also assembled an impressive two dozen-plus signed lithographs from Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975), many of them dating to the well-known Associated American Artists issues. Jesse James is dated 1936 and features Benton’s interesting blend of warped perspective and human interactions. The signed lithograph is estimated at $10,000-$15,000.

Peter Helck (1893-1988) is known as the ‘dean of automotive illustration,’ and rightly so. He created a huge number commercial artworks of American vehicles during many decades. Chevrolet 3100 Series at Work is a circa-1950 piece that may have never been published. As Soulis’ notes state, “the dynamic composition and the attention to detail, classic hallmarks of Peter Helck’s work, are executed at a higher level here than in any other examples of the artist’s known body of illustration art.” The 21.5 by 22in work is estimated at $5,000-$7,000.

Also of interest is a 1947 terra cotta maquette by Wheeler Williams (1897-1972). “Wheeler was known for Art Deco influence architecture and installations, which I love,” said Soulis. “I’m curious about the germination of this piece and how it fits into his oeuvre, since there are no records I could find of any other unique terra cotta works like this. But the puzzle in this is wondering about the experiences of the man who created it.”

“Wheeler was a lieutenant in the American Balloon Corps during World War I, and the sculpture was a gift to a fellow soldier, along with two books by the artist about his sculpture,” Soulis continued. “One of the books was inscribed to ‘my fellow Baloonatic’. Their job was very dangerous, and it’s interesting to see a completely different side of the man.”