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Healthy Results at Christie’s, Sotheby’s Midmarket Sales

Midseason sales of Impressionist, modern and American art scored healthy results at Christie’s and Sotheby’s in New York last month.

NEW YORK—Midseason sales of Impressionist, modern and American art scored healthy results at Christie’s and Sotheby’s in New York last month. Christie’s sale of American paintings, drawings and sculpture on March 3, took $3.3 million, up from $2.4 million last year. Of 191 lots offered, 134, or 70 percent, were sold. By value the auction realized 84 percent.

The house’s sale of Impressionist and modern art on March 9 posted a total of $2.4 million for 171 lots offered, just under the $2.6 million total achieved last March. Of these 140, or 82 percent, were sold; by value the sale achieved 89 percent.

Sotheby’s Impressionist sale on March 16, which also included works of Russian art and Latin American art, took in $4.3 million for 283 lots offered, achieving a sell-through rate of 75 percent and a sold-by-value rate of 85 percent. Last year’s comparable sale took in $3.5 million.

Christie’s American art sale was led by a mixed media on board by Jamie Wyeth, Study of Kleberg, 1984. Estimated at $40,000/60,000, it sold for nearly four times that amount, at $218,500, to private dealer Ann Richards Nitze.

It was followed by George Inness’s Back of Nichols’ Barn, Sconset, 1883, which sold for $194,500, also well above the $25,000/35,000 estimate, to an unidentified U.S. institution.

Another U.S. dealer acquired John La Farge’s Sleep (Study of Female Figure Asleep), 1884–85, for $164,500, more than five times the high estimate.

“We are delighted with the runaway success of our top lots,” said Christie’s head of sale, Aviva Lehmann. Noting 13 new records set at the auction, she said, “Bidding was active and consistent across all genres of American art, from Hudson River School paintings to Modernist works.”

Christie’s Impressionist sale was led by a work by Hannah Hoch, a paper collage on paper, Konstruction, 1921, which sold for $104,500, far above the $10,000/15,000 estimate. Another work by Hoch, 5 + 6, watercolor and gouache over pencil on paper, 1919, also soared past expectations, selling for $68,500 on a $4,000/6,000 estimate.

At Sotheby’s, works by Russian artists accounted for many of the top lots, including two works by Pavel Tchelitchew that led the sale. Portrait of Margaret Anderson, 1929, took $170,500 compared with an estimate of $20,000/30,000, while Portrait of a Man, 1925, sold for $122,500 on an estimate of $10,000/15,000. The Pier at Novgorod: Backdrop Design for “Sadko,” n.d., by Sergei Soudeikine, sold for $98,500, clearing the $25,000/35,000 estimate.

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