Before I begin I will address a request from some of our readers. A number of you have asked if our reports could also cover some of the more ‘affordable’ offerings that come to the market and not just the ‘expensive’ works. So, whenever possible, I will also bring you updates from those sales as well.
I will now pick up with the last round of sales that took place in New York … American paintings. The strength we have seen in all the other markets carried over to the American market and top honors went to Andrew Wyeth’s Ericksons (1973) which made an astounding $10.3 million; followed by Mary Cassatt’s Children Playing with a Dog at $6.2 million; and bringing up the balance of the top five were Albert Bierstadt’s Mountain Lake, $4.86 million; Norman Rockwell’s Home on Leave, $4.52 million; and Georgia O’Keeffe’s Blue I, $3 million. Two of my personal favorites were Edward Potthast’s Beach at Far Rockaway ... a large, colorful and brilliantly lit example that was estimated at $400-$600,000 and sold for an auction record $1.38 million and Jasper F. Cropsey’s Long Beach (est. $150 - $250,000) which brought $408,000.
Among the other interesting results were: Guy Wiggins’ Winter on the Avenue - $372,000; Hermann Herzog’s Woodland Pool - $120,000; Francis C. Jones’ pretty Flowers in the Window - $84,000; Rockwell’s Study for ‘The Flirts’ (19 ¼ x 15 ¼ inches and estimated at $50 - $70,000) that brought $600,000; and Stephen Scott Young’s Red Bows – a 24 ½ x 17 ½ inch work on paper, estimated at $60,000 - $80,000 – that sold for $348,000.
It was nice to see that a number of the ‘not-so-good’ works failed to find buyers and that the really interesting works did very well. In the end, of the 379 works offered, 319 found new homes for a total of just over $111 million. Not bad for a market that is almost exclusively bought and sold by Americans.
The month of June saw the action swing back across the ocean to London … and as we saw in New York, the results for the good quality works were breathtaking; but those paintings that really left a lot to be desired, went begging.
In a one week span, the London sale rooms offered Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary works of art … a lot to digest in just 5 days and nights, but when the meal was over, people left the tables hungry for more.
Top honors for the week went to Francis Bacon’s Self Portrait (1978) that brought an amazing £21.59 million ($43 million). That was followed by Monet whose Nymphéas (1904) brought £18.5 million ($36.72 million) and Waterloo Bridge (1904) made £17.94 million ($35.54 million)- the latter last selling in 1990 for $3.4 million … guess 1904 was a good year for Monet! Bringing up the top 10 for the week were Matisse’s 18 x 21 inch Danseuse dans le Fauteuil (1942) at £10.99 million ($21.83 million) … last on the market in 2000 and selling then for £4.95 million or $7.48 million; Damien Hurst’s Lullaby Spring (2002) at £9.6 million ($19.2 million); another Monet – Les arceaux de Roses Giverny (1913) – at £8.98 ($17.79 million); Lucien Freud’s Bruce Bernard (1992) £7.86 million ($15.6 million); Picasso’s Mousquetaire et nu assis (1967) - £6.74 million ($13.35 million); Miro’s Le coq (1940) at £6.63 million ($13.13 million) … last on the market in 2003 when it sold for £1.78 million or $3 million; and Andy Warhol’s Three Marilyns (1962) - £5.62 ($11.17 million).
I will say that once the prospective buyer’s got a good look at the offerings in the lower price ranges the number of sold works dropped dramatically … especially in the Impressionist arena. In one sale, only 65% of the offerings found buyers and this was not because the interest wasn’t there, but because many of the offerings were really not that attractive. At least in the Impressionist and Modern markets people are still being choosy.
When the week was over, just about £440 million ($875 million) worth of art changed hands with a sell-through rate of about 75%. Some of that was money well spent and some was money chasing names.
On a personal note, I do find it very interesting and somewhat puzzling to see that numerous contemporary works are selling at the same level as the Impressionist and Modern Masters. There were various contemporary works, by artists whose names would probably never cross most people’s lips, which were selling in the £50,000 - £250,000 range. In my mind that appears to be a great deal of money for artists with very little secondary market exposure … but as I have said before: what the heck do I know about the Contemporary market? Not much … however, I do know that the air is very thin at the levels it is approaching.
Many of us know that there were at least 10 different artists during the mid to late 20th century using the Blanchard name to paint scenes of Paris; among them was – Marcel Masson. Until now, there has been very little research done to differentiate the Masson/Blanchard works from all the other artists and we regularly see paintings by some of the other Blanchards being sold with the currently accepted birth and death dates for Masson. In an effort to help separate the Masson/Blanchard works from all the other ‘Blanchards’, the gallery has set up a web site devoted to the nostalgic scenes of Paris painted by Marcel Masson under the name Antoine Blanchard. The site’s URL is www.antoineblanchard.org.
Current information states that Marcel Masson was born in 1910 and died in 1988. He had two daughters and it appears that he began painting his nostalgic scenes of Paris in the mid to late 1950s. This in-depth study of the life and work of the artist will include all historical and biographical information we can find as well as a complete cataloging of the artist’s works. Paintings will be catalogued by title and cross referenced by locations and streets. This will be an on-going project and the site will constantly be updated with new information and works.
We are asking that people who have documentation, photographs of the artist and his family, articles, letters, etc. please contact the gallery so that these items can be reviewed and included in the online archive.
We will also be happy to review paintings for possible inclusion in the project, however due to the complexity of this endeavor we will be charging a fee of $200 per painting. We ask that anyone with a work they want examined please review the information about this service on the web site.
For those collectors who have acquired a work from the gallery there is no need for you to do anything … all of those works have already been included in the database.
The gallery hopes that this project will help ‘clean-up’ the Blanchard market.
Gallery Updates: Please note that for the month of July the gallery’s hours are Monday – Thursday 10 am – 5:30 pm and all other times by appointment.
Among the many works that have passed, or are in the process of passing, through the gallery this month are William A. Bouguereau’s Le depart du bergère; Julien Dupré’s Bergère et Moutons; Daniel Ridgway Knight’s Maria, By the Seine; Edouard Cortes’ Place de la Republique; Antoine Blanchard’s Place de la Concorde; Sally Swatland’s Minnow Nets and The Maiden Voyage.
Web Site Updates: New works by the following artists have been, or will be, added to the web site: Julien Dupré, Daniel Ridgway Knight, Guillaume Seignac, Jean Charles Cazin, Louis Aston Knight, Franck Bail, Edouard Cortes, Antoine Blanchard, Sally Swatland, Greg Harris, Holly Banks and Ugo Giannini.
Next Month: I will discuss some of the improvements we are making to our web site and will bring you an update from the other markets – furniture, automobile, collectibles, etc.