New world records were set for Guy Pène du Bois, John Joseph Boyle and Andrew Wyeth at the Christie's Important American Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture sale on December 2, 2009.
The Christie's sale achieved a total of $32,358,750, with works by Andrew Wyeth, Mary Cassatt, and Charles Prendergast commanding the highest prices. Two new world auction records were set for American artists Guy Pène Du Bois and John Joseph Boyle, and a second highest price was achieved for a work by Andrew Wyeth.
"Our December 2 sale saw collectors returning to the saleroom to bid with vigor and enthusiasm on many of our top lots," said Eric Widing, Head of American Paintings at Christie's.
"Our sale results were by far the best we have seen in American Art for over a year. Good paintings sold well, and great paintings touched the stratosphere."
The sale's top lot, Andrew Wyeth's Above The Narrows, achieved $6,914,500 after a protracted bidding competition, which yielded spirited applause in the saleroom. The price is the second highest ever achieved for a painting by Wyeth at auction, further demonstrating Christie's continued leadership in the market for works by this celebrated master of American realism.
The standing record price was set by Christie's in May 2007 with the sale of Ericksons, a 1973 tempera on panel, which sold for $10.3m. Above The Narrows depicts the artist's teenage son Nicky as a lone figure standing at Bradford's Point, overlooking the St. George River in Maine.
Executed with precise detail, the tempera is imbued with stillness and Wyeth's characteristic atmosphere of mystery. The painting stands as one of Wyeth's most profound and personal meditations.
Other highlights included robust prices across the spectrum of American Art, beginning with an exceptional price for Raphaelle Peale's 1815 masterpiece Still Life, which climbed well above its estimate to sell for $842,000. A modern work by Guy Pène du Bois completed in 1932 entitled Third Avenue El, sold for $782,500, setting a new world auction record for the artist.
American Impressionism showed depth and strength, led by Mary Cassatt's newly rediscovered masterpiece, Study for 'Young Mother Sewing', consigned by a French private collection. The richly-hued pastel on paper sold for double its estimate to achieve $2,434,500.
A second Cassatt work, Françoise Wearing a Big White Hat, painted circa 1908, also performed well, selling for $842,500.
Among the Western works in the sale, solid prices were achieved for Albert Bierstadt's Mountainous Landscape by Moonlight, which achieved $1,142,500. Painted in 1871, the naturalistic night scene is lit by a dramatic combination of reflected moon light and camp fire.
Widely exhibited in museums around the U.S., this superb painting was consigned to sale by the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. to benefit the museum's Acquisitions Fund. An additional Western highlight was Walter Ufer's A Pueblo Well Scene, which achieved $1,142,500.
The painting was consigned from the estate of the late American businessman Oscar G. Mayer, who inherited the painting from his father Oscar F. Mayer, an early financial supporter of Ufer and his fellow members of the Taos Society of Artists.
Among the works of sculpture in the sale, the Western artist John Joseph Boyle's bronze Indian Capturing an Eagle soared beyond its estimate of $30,00-50,000 to sell for $116,500, setting a new world auction record for a work by the artist.