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Sotheby's Live Auction of American Art achieves $9 million in New York
Thomas Hart Benton’s Noon. Estimate $700,000/1 Million. Sold for: $1 million. Courtesy Sotheby's.

NEW YORK, NY.- Friday’s sale was led by Augustus Saint-Gaudens’s Abraham Lincoln: The Man (Standing Lincoln) which achieved $1.6 million – exceeding its $900,000 high estimate. The most celebrated American sculptor of his day, Augustus Saint-Gaudens originally created the sculpture as a larger-than-life work to adorn Chicago’s Lincoln Park. Saint-Gaudens was awarded the commission in 1883, largely due to the success and popularity of his earlier Civil War-related projects such as the Farragut Monument in Madison Square Park and the Sherman Monument in Grand Army Plaza, both in New York. The Lincoln Park monument was formally dedicated in October 1887 to great critical and popular acclaim.

Beginning in 1910, the artist’s widow, Augusta, authorized the casting of commercial-sized reductions of the original monument. The reductions of Lincoln: The Man, of which the present work is one, stand at 40 ½ inches high and were cast in an edition of approximately 17. Other examples are found in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut, the Detroit Institute of Art and the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Kayla Carlsen, Head of Sotheby’s American Art Department, New York, commented: “We are very pleased with today’s sale, which marked a successful return to the New York saleroom for our market. The overall strength of the market was reflected in strong results across paintings, sculpture and works on paper, with top works exceeding $1 million.”

On offer from the Collection of Marylou Whitney, Thomas Hart Benton’s Noon achieved $1 million – meeting its high estimate. Executed in 1939, the dynamic painting was featured in Benton’s first major retrospective in New York later that year. Praised as a resounding success, the exhibition garnered significant attention from a variety of New York collectors, including Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney. Whitney purchased Noon from the retrospective, and it has remained in the family’s collection ever since. Enchanted by America and its offerings, Benton began traveling through the South and the Midwest in the late 1920s and immersing himself in the culture of rural America. In celebrating the American way of life, Benton was sympathetic in his portrayal of farmers and field workers, favoring the themes of dedication and hard work. Noon exemplifies Benton’s ability to capture what he saw as the simplicity and dignity of everyday life.

Milton Avery’s vibrant Mandolin with Pears sold for $740,000, surpassing its $700,000 high estimate. The present work was executed in 1945, when the artist’s style had fully emerged: color became his primary means of expression, and he sought to reduce figures, landscapes, and still-life objects to their simplest forms. In both the subject matter and simplification of forms, Avery’s admiration for Picasso is fully displayed.

On offer in The Ginny Williams Collection Evening Sale on 29 June @ 6:30PM EDT

Georgia O’Keeffe’s New Mexico Landscape and Sand Hills from 1930 will be presented in The Ginny Williams Collection Evening Sale on 29 June. The work examines the rolling hills that prominently feature in O’Keeffe’s first depictions of New Mexico, and documents the artist’s distinctive approach to landscape painting (estimate $800,000/1.2 million). The summer of 1929 marked a turning point in O’Keeffe’s life and work when she visited Taos, New Mexico for the first time. O’Keeffe embraced the western sojourn as a welcome reprieve after living in New York in the preceding period, and her work that followed instantly shifted from the linear, metropolitan compositions of the late 1920s to the natural forms of the Southwestern desert. O’Keeffe was profoundly inspired by the region, which can be measured by the volume of paintings she executed in Taos and Ghost Ranch, and through her ability to capture the spirit of this unique environment.

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