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Christie's announces spring sale of American Art taking place on May 19 in Rockefeller Plaza
Alfred Jacob Miller (1810-1874), Pawnee Running a Buffalo, oil on canvas, 20 x 24 in., oval Painted in 1854. Estimate: $1,000,000-1,500,000. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd 2016.

NEW YORK, NY.- Christie’s announces the spring sale of American Art taking place on Thursday, May 19 in Rockefeller Plaza. This comprehensive auction features 98 lots with works ranging from major American modernists, Georgia O’Keeffe, Arthur Dove, and Max Weber, to 19th-century masters, Frederic Edwin Church, John Singer Sargent, and James McNeill Whistler. Several private collections highlight the auction including The Collection of Kippy Stroud, The Gail and John Liebes Collection, Property of H.F. ‘Gerry’ Lenfest, and The Collection of Lois and Harry Horvitz.

Leading the sale, is a large-scale painting by Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986), Lake George Reflection, painted circa 1921-22, from the Collection of J.E. Safra (estimate: $8,000,000-12,000,000). Inspired by O’Keeffe’s frequent visits to the family home of Alfred Stieglitz, this work continues in the tradition of earlier Hudson River School painters inspired by the sublime topography of the region, but interpreted in O’Keeffe’s avant-garde style of abstraction. The painting can be viewed either vertically or horizontally and this ambiguity of orientation creates a work that is at once highly representational and wholly abstract. First exhibited in 1923 by the artist at the Anderson Galleries, the work was hung vertically, encouraging anthropomorphic comparisons most closely relating to her magnified flower imagery, which she was simultaneously exploring.

Four exceptional works by Georgia O’Keeffe highlight The Collection of Kippy Stroud, who was the founder of the Fabric Workshop Museum. Led by Red Hills with Pedernal, White Clouds, painted in 1936 (estimate: $3,000,000-5,000,000), this work embodies O’Keeffe’s lifelong fascination with shapes and colors found in nature as well as her close connection to the American Southwest. Also included in the collection is an early abstract watercolor by O’Keeffe, Blue I, executed in 1916, (estimate: $2,500,000-3,500,000), which represents her investigation of pure abstraction and acts as one of the earliest and most original abstract images in the history of American art. Blue I is the current auction record for a watercolor by O’Keeffe, having previously sold for $3,008,000 at Christie’s New York.

From The Collection of H.F. ‘Gerry’ Lenfest is Max Weber’s (1881-1961), New York, painted in 1913 (estimate: $1,500,000-2,500,000), which is among the earliest works to depict America’s energized and technologically advanced era at the turn of the century. The large-scale oil on canvas was executed following the artist’s return to New York City after an extended stay in Paris. With a fusion of Cubist and Futurist elements, New York marks the moment of Weber’s breakthrough into his singular modernist style. This work debuted the same year it was painted, featuring prominently in Roger Fry’s first Grafton Group Exhibition in London, where Weber was the best represented artist in this significant international exhibition.

Highlighting the 19th-century works is an exceptional landscape by Frederic Edwin Church (1826-1900), A New England Lake, (estimate: $3,500,000-5,500,000), painted in 1854. Executed during a momentous turning point in his career, this work represents the culmination of Church’s early years perfecting his notion of New England topography, but also a pivotal change in style integrating the more dramatic light and aura which would create his blockbuster works of the following years.

Other 19th-century highlights come from the Gail and John Liebes Collection, including a stunning portrait by John Singer Sargent (1856-1925), François Flameng and Paul Helleu, painted circa 1880 (estimate: $1,200,000-1,800,000) and a large-scale floral still-life by John La Farge (1835-1910), Hollyhocks, painted in 1863 (estimate: $600,000-800,000).

The Western selection is led by Alfred Jacob Miller’s (1810-1874), Pawnee Running a Buffalo, painted in 1854, (estimate: $1,000,000-1,500,000), commissioned for the same family whose collection it has remained in until now. Other Western highlights come from the Collection of Lois and Harry Horvitz, including Frank Tenney Johnson’s (1874-1939), Through the Starlit Hours, painted in 1935 (estimate: $150,000-250,000).

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