William Wendt's Vibrant Coast achieves 16% increase on estimate in LA

William Wendt's Vibrant Coast (Dana Point) starred in an auction of Californian art at Bonhams Los Angeles on August 5, where it sold for $233,000.

It achieved an increase of 16.5% on a $200,000 estimate.

Dana Point Wendt
William Wendt was a central figure in the development of Californian impressionism

The painting dates to 1903, when Wendt (1865-1946) was resident in Laguna Beach in Orange County. He moved there at the turn of the century after a stint in the Midwest.

He became known to his peers as "the dean of Southern California", in reference both to his skill as a painter and his role in developing the careers of other artists.

In 1911 he founded the California Art Club, an organisation dedicated to the advancement of west coast impressionism.

In March last year his Patriarchs of the Grove made $299,000 at Cottone Auctions in New York.

Alson Skinner Clark's The Locks at Panama (1913) proved another highlight, achieving $137,000.

Clark (1876-1949) travelled widely before moving to California in 1922, where he fell in with the local impressionist set - including Guy Rose, whose Out to Sea, Point Lobos made $197,000 last year.

The work is one of a number he painted at the Panama Canal shortly before its completion.

Clark's Bridge Builders (1904) is his most valuable painting. It made $204,000 at Bonhams Los Angeles in 2007.

Scott Levitt, director of fine art at Bonhams, told Paul Fraser Collectibles: "The market is still quite strong for CA impressionist works, especially considering that the pool of buyers is almost entirely in only one state.

"We sell approximately 500 of these paintings each year, and if you think about it, that is a lot of paintings to hang on the walls of collectors in California."

We have this handwritten, signed letter from Pierre-August Renoir - a painter often referred to as the father of impressionism.

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