NEW YORK— Sotheby’s auction of American paintings on March 8, realized $4.1 million for 185 lots offered. Christie’s mid-season sale of American paintings, drawings and sculpture on March 9 took in $3 million for 181 lots offered. Of those, 153, or 85 percent, were sold.
A view of San Giorgio, Venice, 1870, by Sanford Robinson Gifford, was a highlight of the Sotheby’s sale, with the painting selling for $600,000, far past the estimate of $25,000/45,000, despite some condition problems described by the auctioneer in the catalogue.
The painting had been commissioned by Richard Butler, a wealthy New York businessman who was a devoted patron of Gifford and a cofounder of Manhattan’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, according to Sotheby’s. Though the work had been exhibited publicly shortly after its completion—at the Union Club and the National Academy of Design in 1870—it remained in private hands until the sale.
Among other strong prices achieved at the Sotheby’s sale were Thomas Hart Benton’s 1944 painting Journey’s End, which fetched $192,000 (estimate: $20,000/30,000).
The top lot at Christie’s was Circus Ring, an oil on board by Walt Kuhn that soared past the $8,000/12,000 estimate to sell for $90,000 to an American buyer. An oil by Key Sage, Someone Called Me, 1952, set an artist’s record when it fetched $72,000 (estimate: $ 15,000/25,0000) from a U.S. dealer.