Auction  April 4, 2018  Megan D Robinson

Sotheby’s Recent American Art Auction Features Strong Showing from Female Artists

Courtesy Sotheby's

Anna Mary Robertson (Grandma) Moses, "Hurrah For Christmas," Signed MOSES. (lower right); also dated Feb 1, 1946, numbered 1096 and titled Hurrah for Christmas (on an original Grandma Moses label affixed to the reverse; copyright reserved to Grandma Moses Properties, New York). Oil, tempera and glitter on Masonite. 18-1/2 by 22-5/8 inches (47 by 57.5 cm). Estimate $100/150,000, Sold for $206,250.

Sotheby’s recent American Art auction included works by seven important female artists in a range of styles from classical sculpture to cubism and folk art. Self-taught artist Anna Mary Robertson Moses, known as “Grandma Moses,” painted "Hurrah for Christmas," one of the highlights of the auction. An autumnal success story, Grandma Moses didn't start painting until 75, becoming one of the most famous folk artists of the 20th century. Her sweetly nostalgic winter scene sold for $206,250, almost twice its estimated value, making it the second most expensive work sold. ("Flatiron Building," by Earnest Lawson, brought in the highest sale, at $325,000.)

Courtesy Sotheby's

Harriet Whitney Frishmuth, "Laughing Waters," inscribed 19©29/HARRIET W FRISHMUTH and Gorham Co. Founders/QGOA. Bronze. Height: 16 1/4 inches (41.3 cm) on a 1/2 inch (1.27 cm) marble base. Modeled in 1929. Estimate $15/25,000. Sold for $30,000.

Successful sales by other woman artists included bronzes by Harriet Whitney Frishmuth and Modernist paintings by Blanche Lazzell selling for significantly more than expected. Traditionally trained sculptor Frishmuth studied with Auguste Rodin in Paris. Her captivating, gracefully kinetic bronze dancers made her one of the most successful early 20th century American sculptors. All of her sculptures sold at the high end of their estimated value, with "Laughing Waters" selling for $5,000 more than predicted. Lazzell studied Cubism in Paris during the 1920s, returning to the US in 1925 to become one of America’s first Modernists. Her striking block prints combine bold colors and strong geometric shapes. Lazzell’s "Abstraction I" sold for $37,500, over three times its expected price.

Courtesy Sotheby's

Property From The Jacqueline Fowler Collection, Blanche Lazzell, "Abstraction I," Estimate $7/10,000, Sold for $37,500.

The auction also featured a painting by American Impressionist Lilla Cabot Perry, and early 20th century illustrations by Jessie Willcox Smith and Elizabeth Shippen Green. Perry painted mother-child tableaux and became close friends with Monet while living in Paris. Golden Age illustrators Willcox Smith and Shippen Green worked for Harper's Monthly. The Philadelphia-based artists, known as “The Red Rose Girls,” along with Violet Oakley, were some of the most successful illustrators of their generation, and helped pave the way for women in the illustration field. Wilcox’s "Exhibition Announcement" sold for $5000, and "Little Land" sold for $25,000. Shippen Green’s "The Suspected Suffragette" sold for $7,500.

Courtesy Sotheby's

Property From The Jacqueline Fowler Collection, Anne Ryan, "Collage No. 285," signed A. Ryan (lower right); also inscribed no. 285 (on the reverse). Collage on paper. 6-1/4 by 5-3/4 inches (15.9 by 14.6 cm). Estimate $2,500/3,5000. Sold for $6,875.

Early New York School Abstract Expressionist Anne Ryan’s tactile collages were also auctioned. Ryan began experimenting with collage after seeing the work of the German artist Kurt Schwitters in 1948. She juxtaposed small squares of fabric and paper to create visual poetry. Her "Collage No. 285" sold for $6,875, two to three times higher than the expected price. These works by exceptional female American artists now have new homes with discerning collectors.

About the Author

Megan D Robinson

Megan D Robinson writes for Art & Object and the Iowa Source.