ARTnewsletter Archive

13 Rockwells Fetch $14M at Sotheby’s American Art Sale

Sotheby’s offered 196 lots, of which 148, or 76 percent, were sold at its American art sale on Nov. 28.

NEW YORK—Sotheby’s offered 196 lots, of which 148, or 76 percent, were sold at its American art sale on Nov. 28. All 13 Norman Rockwell artworks found buyers, realizing a total of $13.7 million.

The top lot was Gary Cooper as “The Texan,” 1930, which flew past its $2.5 million high estimate to sell for $5.9 million.

The second-highest price for a picture by Rockwell was the $2.6 million given for River Pilot, 1940, again generously above its $1.5 million high estimate.

New York dealer Debra Force told ARTnewsletter she was surprised at the strong results achieved for the large offering of works by Rockwell. Before the auction, she admits, she “was concerned about whether they could all move,” and considers the sale “a real statement on the popularity of this aspect of American art.”

Another Rockwell in the top lots was The Check Up, a 1957 painting that sold for $1.4 million, clearing the high $1.2 million estimate.

Records were set for artists such as Milton Avery, whose 1945 painting The Reader and the Listener sold for $2.5 million, far above the $900,000 high estimate; and for Stanton MacDonald-Wright, whose large, colorful 1918 oil Synchromy went for $2.28 million (estimate: $400,000/600,000) to an American museum. (MacDonald-Wright was a cofounder of Synchromism—a movement, launched in 1913, that gave first importance to color as the source of form and expression in painting.)

Works by Winslow Homer also attracted strong prices, despite what some observers said were aggressive estimates. The highest of these was the $4.5 million (estimate: $4/6 million) given for the 1881 Fisher Girls Coiling Tackle, followed by the $2.2 million (estimate: $2/3 million) paid for Homer’s more formal 1875 Portrait of a Lady by an American dealer.

N.C. Wyeth’s 1927 Indian Love Call brought $1.8 million, above its $1.2 million high estimate; and John Singer Sargent’s Portrait of John Ridgely Carter, 1901, fetched $1.8 million, more than twice its $800,000 high estimate. Both paintings fell to private collectors.