Auction Preview | Coeur d’Alene Art Auction

Reno, NV
Peppermill Resort, July 24-25

Walter Ufer, The Watcher, oil, 36 x 36. Estimate: $250,000-350,000.

Walter Ufer, The Watcher, oil, 36 x 36. Estimate: $250,000-350,000.

This story was featured in the July 2015 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art July 2015 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!

With $225 million in sales over the last 10 years and regular appearances of works by blue-chip artists such as Charles M. Russell, Frederic Remington, and Frank Tenney Johnson, the Coeur d’Alene Art Auction has gained a reputation as a bellwether sale in the western art market. Three hundred lots are up for auction this year, and opportunities to preview them begin on Friday, July 24, at 9 a.m. The preview opens again at 8 a.m. on Saturday, July 25, the day of the auction. Bidding begins at noon and continues throughout the afternoon until the sale is complete.

“We get excited when we get a piece directly from a private family collection that has held it since it was painted by the artist,” says Mike Overby, one of the auction principals. One such work is INDIAN BY FIRE, which Joseph Henry Sharp (1859-1953) painted and gave to the consigner’s grandparents as a wedding gift in 1912. The work has been in the family’s collection ever since and is appearing on the market for the first time, where it is expected to fetch $200,000 to $300,000. A second private collection includes another dozen works by members of the Taos Society of Artists.

There are more than 20 works by Charles M. Russell (1864-1926) in the sale, including WILD HORSES, a watercolor with an estimated value of $800,000 to $1.2 million. One of Russell’s rare, tabletop-size bronze sculptures, THE BRONC TWISTER, is also available for $300,000 to $500,000.

The auction also includes WHEN TRAIL-WEARY CATTLE ARE SLEEPING, a major oil by Frank Tenney Johnson (1874-1939), which could net up to $600,000; and SUMMER IN THE MOUNTAINS, a landscape by Birger Sandzén (1871-1954), valued between $400,000 and $600,000.

Howard Terpning, Bad Medicine Crossing (1996), oil, 40 x 30. Estimate: $600,000-900,000.

Howard Terpning, Bad Medicine Crossing (1996), oil, 40 x 30. Estimate: $600,000-900,000.

Although the auction specializes in western and wildlife paintings and sculpture from 1840 to 1940, it features works by contemporary artists as well, which make up a quarter of the available lots. This collection includes BAD MEDICINE CROSSING, depicting two Native Americans crossing a river, by Howard Terpning, with an estimated value of $600,000 to $900,000. The painting titled A JOURNEY’S GUARDIAN, created by Idaho-based C. Michael Dudash and valued between $20,000 and $30,000, depicts a Native American man and his wife crossing a meandering river on horseback, with packhorse in tow. The brave’s bow is drawn—whether to shoot game or protect his bride, the viewer isn’t sure, creating a moment of tension in the story.

California artist Z.S. Liang painted CHEYENNE BURNING OF FORT PHIL KEARNY, 1868, specifically for the auction. The epic piece captures a seminal moment in American western history, when Chief Red Cloud’s warriors drove the U.S. Army from the fort and burned it in the soldiers’ wake. In his painting, Liang depicts this dramatic scene with a warrior on rearing horseback, the anger visible on the brave’s face and smoke swirling behind him. “For every big-scale painting, I have a particular time period and event I use. I have found that historical painting has to be truthful and genuine. I try to know as much as I can about the event so I have a better understanding of it. I had a passion for this story,” says Liang. The painting is valued between $80,000 and $120,000.

In-person bidders must purchase tickets, which also admit them to the weekend’s other events, including a lavish cocktail party on Friday evening from 6 to 8 p.m. and a brunch on Saturday morning at 10:30 a.m., prior to the auction. Catalogues are available, as are phone and Internet bids. —Ashley M. Biggers

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