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Dallas, TX
Heritage Auctions, May 10, 16, 17

Millard Sheets, Desert Spring Textures, watercolor, 22 x 30. Estimate: $20,000-$30,000.

Millard Sheets, Desert Spring Textures, watercolor, 22 x 30. Estimate: $20,000-$30,000.

This story was featured in the May 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art May 2014 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!

It’s one of those exciting discoveries collectors love to hear about: When Delia E. Sullivan, senior specialist of American Indian Art at Heritage Auctions, was going through a collection that had been packed away for decades, she opened a box tucked inside other boxes for protection. Carefully folded inside was a Sioux boy’s pictorial beaded hide shirt, which ended up selling at Heritage’s last ethnographic art auction for $75,000. “I was very encouraged by our last auction, which realized more than $1 million,” Sullivan relates. “The results prove that material fresh to the market sells well. The items from a rediscovered collection soared for just this reason.”

Heritage’s spring American Indian, Pre-Columbian & Tribal Art Signature Auction, on May 16 in Dallas—with a preview May 14-16—promises a slate of equally remarkable treasures. Among them: an important, rare, Plains Indian quilled hide war shirt that once belonged to Sioux chief Runs-the-Enemy, who took part in the 1876 Battle of the Little Bighorn. The shirt, with vibrant yellow quills on the sleeves, has an estimated bidding range of $40,000 to $60,000. Also up for bid is a polychrome storage jar by Laguna Pueblo potter Arroh-ah-och, circa 1895. Sullivan expects the vessel, with geometric designs in deep red and black over a white slip, to sell for more than its conservative $2,500 to $3,500 presale estimate.

The auction is one of three western sales at the auction house’s Dallas location in May. The American, Western, California & Golden Age Illustration Art Auction takes place May 10 (preview May 8-10), and the Texas Art Signature Auction is set for May 17 (preview May 14-17.) In each case, collectors will have an opportunity to purchase exceptional work by important artists whose creations helped define a time and place in American art.

Highlights of the American, Western and California Art Auction include DESERT SPRING TEXTURES, a 1967 painting by acclaimed California watercolorist Millard Sheets [1907-1989]. With an estimate of $20,000 to $30,000, the painting “brilliantly transfers Sheets’ abilities as 
a muralist onto paper, with his mosaic-like brushwork and grand landscape,” notes Alissa Ford, Heritage’s director for California Art. “This is certainly one of the finest examples of his work that we have seen come up for auction.” Among other outstanding pieces in the May 10 event are a 1916 painting by John Hubbard Rich [1876-1954], estimated to sell for $3,000 to $5,000; a 1954 Gustave Baumann color woodcut, likely to bring $8,000 to $12,000; and a 1913 bronze by Cyrus Edwin Dallin [1861-1944], with an estimate of $30,000 to $50,000.

At the Texas Art Signature Auction, collectors can bid on several paintings by early Texas impressionist Julian Onderdonk [1882-1922]. An Onderdonk painting broke the artist’s world record at Heritage’s November 2013 auction, with 
a winning bid of $515,000. “Collectors outside Texas are becoming very interested in his work,” observes Atlee Marie Phillips, director for Texas Art. Oil paintings by modernist William Lewis Lester [1910-1991] and members of the Dallas Nine and the Fort Worth Circle will also be hotly contested, Phillips predicts. 
—Gussie Fauntleroy

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Featured in the May 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
Southwest Art May 2014 print issue or digital download Or subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss a story!

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