Fall 2020 American Art Sale Delivers 15 New Records

Swann Galleries opened the fall 2020 season with a whirlwind sale of American Art on Thursday, September 17, 2020. “We were delighted to start the fall season at Swann with our American Art sale that brought strong prices from nineteenth-century artists, such as Severin Roesen and Alfred Thompson Bricher, alongside modernists like Marsden Hartley and Emil Bisttram,” noted Todd Weyman, a vice president for the house and specialist for the sale. “We were especially pleased to see under recognized artists such as Sophie Harpe, Nils Gren, Fidelma Cadmus and Dorr Bothwell achieve recognition on the market,” concluded Weyman. The auction brought in over $1 million, and saw 15 new artist records set.

Grandma Moses

The sale was led by Anna Mary Robertson (Grandma) Moses with Happy Days, a 1961 oil-on-masonite painting depicting a scene typical of Moses’s style, a rural family working on their farm. The painting was completed by Moses at 101 years of age, and was won by an institution for $81,250.

Artist Records

Notable artist records included Nils Gren with Solemn Hill, California, oil on canvas, circa 1930, at $12,500; Dorr Bothwell with Figures in a Landscape, oil on canvas, 1927, at $12,500; George Beline, Excavation for the Subway, New York, watercolor and gouache, 1940, at $11,875; and Mervin Jules with The Ditch Digger, tempera on panel, circa 1937, at $11,875.

Artist Records for Medium

Emil Bisttram, Sun, Moon, watercolor, 1942. Sold for $47,500, a record for a watercolor by the artist.

Emil Bisttram’s Sun, Moon, 1942, garnered a flurry of interest, soaring past its $3,000 to $5,000 estimate and establishing a record for a watercolor by the artist at $47,500. Further records were established with Fidelma Cadmus’s Street Scene, New York, pencil on paper, circa 1935–40, a record for a drawing by Fidelma Cadmus at $13,750.

Additional Highlights

Alfred Thompson Bircher found success with two circa-1880 oil-on-canvas works depicting scenes from Grand Manan Island: a scene showing Bishop’s Rock brought $45,000 while an image of South Head earned $25,000. Also of note was Marsden Hartley’s color crayon and pastel Seated Male Nude, 1922–23, which realized $37,500, and Sophie Harpe’s oil-on-canvas Abstract Figure, circa 1940, which brought $6,000, a record for the artist.

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