New York—A new auction record for any print by American master Edward Hopper was established at Swann Galleries’ auction of Old Master Through Modern Prints on Thursday, November 2. The extremely rare etching The Lonely House, 1923, sold for a record $317,000 to a buyer over the phone, above a high estimate of $200,000. The previous record for a print by the artist, set in 2012, was $80,000 lower. It was also the highest price for an etching ever sold by Swann Galleries.
All three works by Hopper in the sale found buyers. Les Poilus, an extremely rare 1915-18 etching of French infantrymen, reached $42,500, above a high estimate of $20,000, a record for the work.
Swann Galleries holds the top six auction prices for prints by Martin Lewis. In Thursday’s auction, the house beat its own record for Relics (Speakeasy Corner), 1928, one of the artist’s most iconic works. The work sold for $55,000, surpassing the previous benchmark established in 2016.
Several additional image records were established, including $65,000 for Rembrandt van Rijn’s Self-Portrait with Cap Pulled Forward, a circa 1631 etching. A record was also achieved for Arbre, 1892, an enigmatic lithograph by Odilon Redon ($47,500).
The important first edition of Francisco José de Goya’s Los Caprichos, circa 1799, lampooning the Spanish aristocracy and clergy, was sold for $106,250. Approximately 300 copies of the bound set of 80 etchings were produced in the first edition, before Goya withdrew the series from sale for fear of retribution. Few survive, as only 27 were sold and most of the rest destroyed; the copy offered lacked only one etching.
The sale featured a special section of prints from the estate of American artist Will Barnet, 94% of which found buyers. Multiple bidders were on the phones for the duration of the run of 31 works, sending many prices past their estimates. Bidding was especially competitive for three figurative prints of women with pets in the flattened ukiyo-e-esque style for which Barnet is celebrated. Woman, Cat and String, 1964, is especially emblematic of the style: the square color woodcut sold for $4,750, above a high estimate of $1,800. The 1975 color screenprint The Book and lithograph Silent Seasons—Summer, 1974, also performed well ($4,000 and $3,250, respectively).
Director of Prints & Drawings and Vice President of Swann Galleries, Todd Weyman, said of the sale, “Enthusiastic bidding across the board in this auction covering more than five centuries of graphic art centered on a record price for the most expensive printed work by Edward Hopper ever sold, and establishing international auction records for prints by Rembrandt, Redon, and Martin Lewis. We are very pleased.”
The next auction of fine art at Swann Galleries will be Contemporary Art on November 16, 2017.
Lot 304: Edward Hopper, The Lonely House, etching, 1923. Sold November 2, 2017 for $317,000. (Pre-sale estimate $150,000 to $200,000).