Winslow Homer Etching to be Auctioned Along with Prints, Rare Books & Portfolios

BOOK Collection.jpgST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Only once in a blue moon does an auction come along that checks off all the boxes on an art collector’s wish list - a sale that contains fresh works by desirable artists not often seen in the marketplace, all with unimpeachable provenance and with very few having auction reserves. Such is the case with Myers Fine Art’s connoisseur’s selection to be auctioned on Sunday, March 13. Almost all of the recently discovered art will be making its first-ever public appearance in the 457-lot sale.

Many of the original paintings and other artworks in the auction came directly from the estates of New York artists and writers, including the Sagaponack, N.Y., estate of novelist and 2008 National Book Award winner Peter Matthiessen. Among the premier paintings previously displayed in Matthiessen’s Long Island residence is a signed Willard Leroy Metcalf (American, 1858-1925) oil-on-canvas titled Summer Night. The 24 by 23-inch painting is dated 1908 and depicts an old two-story house amid foliage and trees beneath a starlit sky. It is estimated at $20,000-$30,000.

A stunning Maynard Dixon (Californian, 1875-1946) oil-on-canvas titled Mountain Juniper Sierra Nevada Mountain (Lot 123) depicts an encampment of covered wagons below a craggy, sun-drenched mountain with the wagon master on horseback in the foreground. A quintessential Old West scene executed in 1944 by a noted artist of the genre, the painting is expected to make $40,000-$60,000 at auction.

Lot 33 is a signed Frank W. Benson (American, 1862-1951) watercolor painting titled The Ponter. Artist-signed on a Milch Galleries New York label, the 19 by 25-inch impressionist artwork depicts a water scene with a man and dog navigating the rushes as a flock of ducks flies off toward the horizon. A $20,000-$30,000 bid is expected.

Sourced from the same estate as the Benson, Lot 198 is a coveted Winslow Homer (American 1836-1910) burnished etching titled Fly Fishing, Saranac Lake. It is artist- signed at lower left with the date 1889 and pencil-signed and numbered 66 at lower right. Fly Fishing, Saranac Lake is the only composition that Homer created expressly for a print. It is also most likely his final etching. Lifetime impressions of Fly Fishing rarely come up for sale and are seldom seen, even by collectors. Myers Fine Art takes great pride in offering their example with a $25,000-$35,000 estimate.

Approximately 30 vibrant works of art by Leon Polk Smith (American, 1906- 1996) came to Myers through Smith’s longtime life partner Bob Jamieson. The consignor has provided a signed letter of provenance and photograph of Smith in his New York studio as a bonus accompaniment to each Smith artwork in the sale.

“Because there was such a positive reception to previous consignments of Leon Polk Smith art, the estate decided to release more of his paintings, and they are some of his finest,” said Mary Dowd, co-owner of Myers Fine Art.

A leading American non-objective color-field precisionist, Smith was heavily influenced by Brancusi and Mondrian. His works have been described as simple, colorful, and as having a “hard-edge” presence. Lot 368, a red-on-green abstract geometric oil from the 1960s, is estimated at $2,000-$4,000. His folding screen maquette painting titled Black Triangle is cataloged as Lot 363 and estimated at $1,500-$2,500.

In 2014, Myers set a world auction record ($15,340) for an artwork by Julia Thecla (American, 1896-1973), who developed a unique style of magical realism. The record-setting work came from the estate of art dealer David Porter, who represented Thecla in addition to Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Robert Motherwell in the 1940s. Again, Myers Fine Art will offer an outstanding Thecla work from the Porter estate, a gouache opaque watercolor painting on artist board titled Talisman. Old gallery labels on the reverse identify the painting, which depicts a young woman with flowing hair gazing at her upraised hands. The work is estimated at $10,000-$20,000.

Another female artist and contemporary of Thecla who is generating bidder interest in the run-up to the auction is Sonia Sekula (American, 1918-1963). Her 1947 oil painting Les [sic.] Dernier Chateau, or The Last Castle, entered as Lot 352, may well surpass its $4,000-$6,000 estimate.

Lots 308 and 309 are original paintings by Clara Elsene Peck (American, 1883-1968) that were commissioned as covers of Theatre Magazine in the 1920s. Each of the gouache watercolor paintings on artist board is signed, and Lot 309 is accompanied by the original issue of the magazine that featured the art. It is estimated at $800-$1,200. Additionally, Theatre Magazine cover paintings by other artists are offered in the sale, some including the original magazine issues on which the art is depicted. 

For those art collectors who enjoy sleuthing, there are several “mystery paintings” in the sale. They are either unidentified or by accomplished but yet-to-be-discovered artists. “Each is beautiful and well executed,” Dowd observed. 

Lot 342 is a rare sought-after Edward Ruscha (American, b. 1937-) first printing of Dutch Details, an artist book published in the Netherlands in 1971 by Stichting Octopus / Sonsbeek. Inside, the book contains 116 black-and-white photomechanical illustration photographs on 10 foldout leaves. The original print run was 3,000 copies, but most were mistakenly destroyed in a warehouse. Around 200 examples are thought to have survived, with this being one of them. It is estimated at $6,000-$8,000.

A wealth of fascinating ephemera is included in the sale, including 1940s photographs by Louise Dahl-Wolfe from the estate of her then-assistant Gene Fenn, as well as artist-related Christmas cards, books, and other memorabilia.

There are several very desirable titles and groupings of publications in the fine books section of the sale. Lot 249 is a 1930 Jacques Majorelle portfolio Les Kasbahs De l’Atlas. It contains 30 boards of color paintings and drawings of atmospheric Moroccan scenes created by the artist during the 1920s. Estimate: $10,000-$15,000.

Myers’ Sunday, March 13, 2016 Fine Art, Paintings, Prints, Sculpture & Books Auction will commence at 12 noon Eastern Time (please note: clocks move forward one hour for Daylight Saving Time at 2 a.m. on March 13). Previews will be held from 10-6 on Friday and Saturday, March 11th and 12th, and also from 10 a.m. till noon on auction day. The gallery is located at 1600 4th St. North in St. Petersburg, FL 33704. All forms of bidding will be available, including live via the Internet through LiveAuctioneers and Invaluable. For additional information on any item in the sale, call 727-823-3249 or e-mail auctions@myersfineart.com. Online: www.myersfineart.com.

Image: Collection of portfolios, artist books and 19th-century art folios, including Ed Ruscha’s Dutch Details, which is estimated at $6,000-$8,000. 

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