Tour the June 2021 American Art Sale: 19th Century to Modern Art

The American Art sale on June 30, 2021 will include notable works from prominent artists working in America beginning in the mid-1800s and continuing through the contemporary era. Below we share a selection of highlights that encompass the breadth of the auction.

John La Farge

John La Farge, The Sphynx is Weary, She Dreams o’er the World, gouache, watercolor and black chalk, 1865. Estimate $7,000 to $10,000.

According to Dr. James L. Yarnall, “This is one of La Farge’s most experimental watercolors of the 1860s. Mixing chalk, watercolor and gouache, he developed the kind of heavy-laden, expressive and painterly surface effects that came to characterize his watercolors after 1880.” This image is one of several works that La Farge made to illustrate Ralph Waldo Emerson’s poem, The Sphinx, however this image was never published.

Carl Lindin

Carl Lindin was born in Sweden in 1869 and moved to the United States in 1887, settling in Chicago. He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and then returned to Europe, studying in Paris at Académie Julien. In the early 1900s, he moved to Woodstock, New York where he co-founded the Woodstock Artists Association. He is known for landscape painting, focusing on moonlit views, often in a Tonalist and Post-Impressionist style.

Annie Gooding Sykes

One of several prominent women associated with the artistic life of Cincinnati at the turn of the century, Annie Gooding Sykes specialized in colorful, Impressionist-inspired watercolors. She was born in Brookline, Massachusetts in 1855; her father was a silversmith and engraver, and her mother was a gifted needleworker. Stimulated by the artistic example of her parents, Sykes studied at the Lowell Institute in Boston in 1875 and enrolled at the school of the Museum of Fine Arts in 1878. She married in 1882 and moved with her husband to Cincinnati, at that time a flourishing cultural center dubbed the “Queen City of the West.” In order to refine her artistic skills, she enrolled at the Cincinnati Art Academy in 1884. Throughout the next decade, she continued her training under such notable American painters as Frank Duveneck and Thomas Satterwhite Noble. Although she occasionally worked in oil, watercolor became Sykes’ favorite medium of expression.

She was a regular contributor to the annual exhibitions of the Boston Art Club, New York Watercolor Club, Art Institute of Chicago, the Philadelphia Water Color Club and the Ohio Water Color Society. In 1892, she became a charter member of the Woman’s Art Club of Cincinnati. Over a three-decade-long period, Sykes exhibited at the Cincinnati Art Museum on forty-two occasions.

Rockwell Kent

Alice Beach Winter

George Tooker

George Tooker was born in Brooklyn in 1920 and, after graduating from Harvard University with an English degree in 1942 and enlisting in the Officer Candidates School, United States Marine Corps (he was discharged for medical reasons), studied at the Art Students League, New York, from 1943 to 1945 under the artists Reginald Marsh and Kenneth Hayes Miller. Tooker met Paul Cadmus at the Art Students League and through Cadmus was introduced to Jared and Margaret French, all of whom would work together, collaborate and become lifelong friends in the ensuing decades. Through his connection with Cadmus and French, Tooker also became closely acquainted with Monroe Wheeler and Lincoln Kirstein, both of whom had strong ties to the nascent Museum of Modern Art, New York.

George Tooker, Untitled (Young Man Facing a Woman), egg tempera and ink on panel, circa 1950. Estimate $100,000 to $150,000.

Like Cadmus and French, Tooker was categorized by art critics as a “Magic Realist,” though he resisted this label. He said of his work, “I am after painting reality impressed on the mind so hard that it returns as a dream, but I am not after painting dreams as such, or fantasy.” Describing his process, he noted, “I don’t really think I’m a creator. I feel that I’m a passive vessel, a receptor or translator . . . The fascinating thing about painting is the discovery.” Tooker’s work gradually fell out of the spotlight with the ascent of Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art and Minimalism in the decades following the 1950s, though he continued to paint in the assiduous style he had developed during his early career.

Tooker’s images convey a sense of overwhelming silence, as in the current painting, and the figures he depicts are rarely overcome by emotion and seldom convey individuality. Although in this work, the features of the male, with the large, dark eyes, prominent brown, round face, full lips and close-cropped hair bear a striking resemblance to Tooker in his twenties, and the style of the dress worn by the woman is one frequently modeled by Magaret French in numerous 1940s and 50s PaJaMa photographs (the moniker “PaJaMa” is a portmanteau of the first two letters of Paul, Jared and Margaret which the three artists used to reflect a fluid and collective mode of authorship in their photography). Tooker’s work is grounded with a precise geometric architecture, which is both a gesture to the ubiquitous use of perspective in Renaissance art and a recognition of the order and rigidty of modern architecture. In the current work, the scaffold, playground-like frame is similar to one seen in PaJaMa photographs from the 1940s and 1950s, on which Cadmus and Jared and Margaret French often posed for photographs, on the beach at Fire Island, New York.

Ward Lockwood

Ward Lockwood studied at the University of Kansas and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. After serving in the Army in 1917, he studied in Paris at the Academie Ranson and was exposed to European modern movements such as Cubism and Futurism that would influence his work. In the 1920s, he moved to Taos, New Mexico and became part of the artist’s colony in the area. In the 1930s he worked for the WPA and also began a teaching career at the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Kansas, Lawrence before settling in Taos after his retirement. Throughout his career, he worked in a range of Modern styles embracing new theories and approaches towards visual art that arose in the first half of the twentieth century.

Nell Blaine

Nell Blaine, Still Life, New York, oil on canvas, 1963. Estimate $2,500 to $3,500.

Nell Blaine studied with Hans Hoffmann before moving to New York and immersing herself in the second generation of New York School Abstract Expressionist painters. She was the youngest member of the American Abstract Artists group in 1944. Later in her career, she was drawn towards working in a more representational style, blending it with her dynamic brushwork reminiscent of her earlier Abstract Expressionist paintings.

In the 1950s, she met Dilys Evans, a nurse who helped Blaine recouperate from polio complications at Mount Sinai Hospital, New York. Blaine has noted that Evans brought her paint and canvas to the hospital while she was recovering from polio so she could produce art. They eventually become lovers, and together they traveled extensively, including to the UK, St. Lucia, and Gloucester, among other locations.

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