Auctions | June 30, 2014

Swann Galleries’ Top-Grossing American Art Auction, Record for Winslow Homer Drawing


New York—Swann Galleries’ June 12 auction of American Art was the highest-grossing sale in this category ever—and also the first American Art auction at Swann to bring in more than $1 million—the sale total was $1,020,970*.

Todd Weyman, Swann Galleries Vice President and Director of Prints & Drawings, said, “We are delighted with the results of this American Art auction, which was our strongest sale ever in this category. There was spirited bidding across the board, from 19th-century artists to mid-century modernists. Particularly notable were Winslow Homer’s Study: Fresh Air, which fetched an auction record price for a pen and ink drawing by the artist, and Preston Dickinson’s The Peters Mills, which brought a record price for a Dickinson watercolor, gouache or ink.”

The Homer drawing, which brought $106,250, was a recent discovery—having previously been listed in the Homer catalogue raisonne as “whereabouts unknown”—and had descended through the family of the artist James D. Smillie. It was a study for Homer’s seminal, same-titled watercolor Fresh Air, which is in the collection of the Brooklyn Museum.

A work by Smillie himself also set a record in the auction. His Sunset Over a Lake, oil on board brought $11,875.


And, as mentioned above, a 1924 brush, ink, wash and color pastel with pencil by Preston Dickinson brought a record $60,000.

Prices remain strong for drawings by Paul Cadmus, and this sale featured Seated Male Nude (NM 96), color pastel and charcoal, 1972, which achieved $37,500; and a pen and ink, Jared French Leaving, circa 1930, $13,750.

A work by French was also a highlight: Mediterranean Street Corner, tempera on Masonite, 1954, which sold for $22,500.

Another top lot from the 1950s was Norman Rockwell’s studies for The Family Tree, charcoal, drawn for the cover of The Saturday Evening Post’s October 24, 1959 issue—which was accompanied by a copy of the magazine, $28,160.

A pair of watercolors by naturalist Charles Burchfield performed well: Lacy Trees and Sunlit Clouds, watercolor and pencil, 1916, at $25,000 and Morning Glories, watercolor, gouache and pencil, 1915, $21,250.

Rounding out the top lots were Andrew Wyeth’s Portrait of Alfred Porter, pencil, 1973, $22,500; Hughie Lee-Smith’s Buoy and Girl, oil on canvas, 1982, $23,750; Reginald Marsh’s Vaudeville Dancers on a Stage, watercolor, pen and ink, 1944, $20,000; John La Farge’s Study of Reef, Tautira, Tahiti, watercolor and gouache, circa 1891, $16,250 and Miguel Covarrubias’s Ceremonial Kachina Dancer, tempera, $15,000.

For complete auction results, an illustrated catalogue, with prices realized on request, can be purchased for $35 from Swann Auction Galleries, 104 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010, or viewed online at

To propose consignments to upcoming auctions of American Art, please contact Todd Weyman at (212) 254-4710, extension 32, or via e-mail at

*All prices include buyer’s premium.

First image: Winslow Homer, Study: Fresh Air, pen and ink, circa 1879. Sold for $106,250 (including buyer's premium), a record for a pen and ink by the artist.

Second image: Preston Dickinson, The Peters Mill, brush, ink, wash and color pastel with pencil, 1924. Sold for $60,000 (including buyer's premium), a record for a watercolor, gouache or ink by the artist.