Auction Preview | Texas & American Art Auctions

Dallas & New York
Heritage Auctions, November 7 & November 16

Robert William Wood, Autumn in Texas, oil, 20 x 24. Estimate: $10,000-$15,000.

Robert William Wood, Autumn in Texas, oil, 20 x 24. Estimate: $10,000-$15,000.

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

The phrase “embarrassment of riches” may seem like hype, but it also seems apt when considering two separate auctions taking place this month at the widely respected Heritage Auctions, the world’s third-largest auction house. On November 7, following three preview days, its Dallas Design District Annex hosts a Texas Art Signature Auction with approximately 100 lots representing a wide range of artists from the Lone Star State. Then, nine days later, the New York location offers in its American Art Signature Auction an impressive 200 lots covering a breathtaking diversity of works.

Heritage’s director of Texas art, Atlee Phillips, is quick to point out that her area of specialization “is not really western art” per se. “There’s really something for everyone in our November 7 sale, from impressionists to abstract painters, regionalists to modernists to folk artists,” she says. The paintings exciting her most are three by Julian Onderdonk [1882-1922], an impressionist widely referred to as “the father of Texas painting.” His most in-demand subjects are landscapes featuring bluebonnets, the iconic Texas springtime wildflower, and this auction won’t disappoint, with TEXAS LANDSCAPE WITH BLUEBONNETS [1910-1912], which has an estimate between $150,000 and $250,000.

Phillips is also delighted by several lower-priced works, including five watercolors and one gouache by modernist Bror Alexander Utter, a leader of the Fort Worth Circle of artists in the 1930s and 1940s, some of which may fetch just upward of $2,000. There’s also an etching by William “Bill” Bomar, another Circle member, that could go for between $600 and $1,200. “Prints are the gateway drug to collecting art,” Phillips notes.

Everett Franklin Spruce, Untitled (Summer in the Country), oil, 18 x 24. Estimate: $3,000-$5,000.

Everett Franklin Spruce, Untitled (Summer in the Country), oil, 18 x 24. Estimate: $3,000-$5,000.

A similar sense of anticipation awaits Heritage’s American Art event on November 16, after full previews from the 14th. Originally planned for October, it was moved to this later date to coincide with the American sales held by the other leading auction houses, which have become an annual tradition. Heritage’s offerings will constitute nothing short of “a syllabus of American art history from the early 19th century up to World War II, including the Hudson River School, western art, realism, impressionism, and modernism,” says Aviva Lehmann, director of American art. She’s especially enthusiastic about JASON AND HIS TEACHER, an oil created in 1908 for Collier’s magazine by pre
-eminent neoclassical painter and illustrator Maxfield Parrish, for which she anticipates a selling price in the range of $1 to $1.5 million. “It’s spectacular, so energized, almost like a Renaissance painting, and it could go higher than that,” she adds. Other noteworthy lots include SUNSET: SKY AND MARSH, an 1867 oil by widely respected painter Martin Johnson Heade ($700,000 to 
$1 million), and several fine Norman Rockwell works, with estimated sale ranges between $150,000 and $800,000.

The broad appeal of works by such renowned artists, both from Texas and across the nation, should send collectors flocking to the two Heritage Auctions events. Physical attendance isn’t even mandatory. Both are also streamed live online, where advance bidding will open approximately two weeks before the sale dates. Interest is expected to be lively. Concludes Lehmann, “There’s something good for everyone in every collecting category.” —Norman Kolpas

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