America the Beautiful: City & Landscape Scenes of America’s Terrain

Our June 13 sale of American Art features an impressive selection of city, landscape and coastal scenes. The offering puts on display how the breadth and diversity of America’s terrain, from “sea to shining sea,” served as an inspiration for artists throughout the twentieth century.


New York City

New York City has long been a muse for artists, serving as both a source of inspiration and a haven, numerous artists and collectives have sprung from the city’s rich culture including the Fourteenth Street School, which most notably included Reginald Marsh, the Soyer brothers and Isabel Bishop.


An abstract cityscape of New York City by Isabel Bishop.
Lot 149: Isabel Bishop, New York Cityscape, oil on board, circa 1920. Estimate $4,000 to $6,000.


Bishop consistently found herself moved by the city often painting urban scenes of Union Square, near where the Fourteenth Street School was located, and, of course, the skyline. Featured in the sale is a loosely rendered painting of New York City seen from the water.



Additional highlights include Guy C. Wiggins‘ iconic snowy city streets and a harbor scene by Joseph Pennell.


The American West & Great Plains

In contrast to the manmade structures of New York, the West boasts some of America’s most prized natural phenomena including the Grand Canyon and the expansive mesas of the southwest, which is highlighted in a Fairfield Porter watercolor, and the snowy peaks of the Rocky Mountains, represented in Albert Bierstadt‘s oil painting.



Ruth Monro Augur is best known for her depictions of life in the Great Plains during the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century. In the early 1930s she won a Works Progress Administration commission to paint murals in the county courthouse at Enid, Oklahoma. The murals covered 1136 square feet and depicted the history of the Cherokee Strip Land Run, or the Land Run of 1893, which marked the opening to the settlement of the Cherokee Outlet in Oklahoma’s fourth and largest land run, in what would become the U.S. state of Oklahoma in 1907.


A scene of the Oklahoma Land Rush with a train, stage coaches, and people on horses racing across the canvas.
Lot 173: Ruth Monro Augur, Oklahoma Land Rush, oil on canvas, circa late 1930s. Estimate $10,000 to $15,000.


Coastal Scenes


A painting of sand dunes with the sea in the background by Hugh Lee-Smith.
Lot 236: Hughie Lee-Smith, Coastal Landscape, oil on canvas, 1960s. Estimate $12,000 to $18,000.


Hughie Lee-Smith turned to the seashore for inspiration during his mid-career period–a continued exploration of modern, existential landscapes. Further examples of this period include Figure by the Seashore II, 1957, Untitled (Figure at the Shore), circa 1960, and River’s Edge, circa 1957-59.



California and Florida’s beaches are also represented with oil paintings by Carl Sprinchhorn and Robert Alexander Darrah Miller.


For more in our June 13 sale, browse the full catalogue or download the Swann Galleries App.