Ten-year Benchmark for Scottsdale Art Auction

Art Auction Reviews
black and white painting of many horses and riders in a snowstorm

Scottsdale Art Auction offers another rare Remington among 350-plus lots to excite bidders.

This April Scottsdale Art Auction celebrates a decade offering the foremost classic and contemporary Western, wildlife and sporting art. The annual sale returns Saturday, April 5, with more than 350 lots to be offered in two sessions with the first beginning at 9:30 a.m. The eagerly anticipated sale will include the finest paintings and sculptures by deceased Western masters like Frederic Remington, Charles M. Russell, Ernest L. Blumenschein, William H. “Buck” Dunton, E. Martin Hennings, Leon Gaspard, Frank Tenney Johnson, and Joseph H. Sharp, alongside contemporary talent such as Roy Andersen, John Coleman, Martin Grelle, Ed Mell, James Reynolds, Kenneth Riley, and Howard Terpning, among others. Sporting and wildlife art by Ken Carlson, Philip R. Goodwin, Bob Kuhn, Carl Rungius and more will round out the sale.

At last year’s auction, Remington’s 1901 black-and-white oil painting The Pack-Horse Men Repelling an Attack by Indians achieved a record-breaking $1,035,000 for that medium. Scottsdale Art Auction returns with an equally stunning en grisaille piece of the exact size and same period: Thirty Below and a Blizzard Raging (est. $500/700,000).

Scottsdale Art Auction holds the record for a Terpning sold at auction when Captured Ponies realized $1.9 million in 2012.

“This is a great transitional piece for Remington as it was his first job for McClure’s magazine in 1899. The piece has been in a private collection and hasn’t seen daylight in quite a while,” remarks Michael Frost of J.N. Bartfield Galleries in New York, a partner in the auction along with Brad Richardson of The Legacy Gallery in Scottsdale, Arizona and Jackson, Wyoming, and Jack Morris of Morris & Whiteside Galleries in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

Woman in Blue (est. $250/350,000) by Blumenschein is one of three paintings the artist did in the mid-1920s featuring a single Taos Indian model and one of more than 30 works included in the Taos Artist’s 1927 retrospective—perhaps the most successful solo show of his career. According to Frost, the piece has been hidden in a private collection for 20-plus years.

Also noteworthy are Sharp’s Indian Council (est. $150/250,000), a beautiful firelight scene depicting the quintessential subject the artist liked to paint; Gaspard’s Winter Scene (est. $50/75,000) in which the artist forces perspective (in a manner reminiscent of his classmate Marc Chagall) to allow the viewer to see deep into the snowbound village; and Russell’s A Nobleman of the Plains (est. $175/225,000), a watercolor of a Plains Indian. “The Russell watercolor appeared on the 1953 cover of Arizona Highways, and a copy of the cover accompanies the piece,” adds Frost.

“The auction has grown more than we ever thought it would. It’s been a great ride, and we’re looking forward to the next 10 years.”

The contemporary lots will feature a small group of Terpnings including the 2011 piece titled Calling the Buffalo, which comes from a private collector. The 36-by-28-inch interior scene of an Indian standing in a tent holding beads and other artifacts in his hand while glancing upward is estimated at $500,000 to $700,000. Scottsdale Art Auction holds the record for a Terpning sold at auction when Captured Ponies realized $1.9 million in 2012. It also holds the auction record for Grelle—achieved last year when Prayers of the Pipe Carrier fetched $488,750. This year brings another large Grelle piece, Dust in the Distance, depicting a group of Indians on horseback with one standing in the grass and peering through a telescope. “He’s using his rifle like a tripod to balance the telescope,” remarks Frost. “It’s a superb piece.”

Highlights in the sporting art category include Goodwin’s Game Dispute and Where Men Are Men, both estimated at $90,000 to $120,000. The latter piece is a classic Goodwin predicament painting. According to the auction, “The rifleman has to shoot, or at least scare the cat and hope to be quick enough, and good enough, to take down a buck or doe for the pot. In this beautiful but rugged wilderness, where the forest is dark, the river is wild, and the mountain is high and far off, anything can happen.”

Anything can happen, indeed. Scottsdale Art Auction has grown each year since its debut 10 years ago. Today more than 500 people attend the sale, which is held at The Legacy Gallery’s 10,000-square-foot state-of-the-art showroom in Old Town Scottsdale.

“The auction has grown more than we ever thought it would,” remarks Frost. “…It’s been a great ride, and we’re looking forward to the next 10 years.”

In honor of its 10th anniversary the partners have created a new Scottsdale Art Auction Award of Merit to be presented to one artist who has created a painting specifically for the 2014 sale. “We’ll let the audience choose which painting has the best merit and the winner will receive a $15,000 cash award,” Frost explains. “We thought we’d do it for the 10th year and hope to continue it in the future.”

This article was originally published in the Western Art Collector, April 2014. View full article here.

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