Bonhams: California, Western and Sculpture Sale

Mt. McKinley by Eustace Ziegler; 40" x 48"
Bonhams and Butterfields of San Francisco will be presenting their California, Western and Sculpture Sale on May 1st.  There's only a few pieces that really jump out at me.  The first is the large Eustace Ziegler titled Mt. McKinley measuring 40 x 48 inches.  It's estimated $50,000 - $70,000.  While Ziegler did a number of paintings that are similar with Mt. McKinley looming in the background and either figures or pack horses in the foreground, a painting of this size is very rare.  In Kesler Woodward's 1998 book Spirit of the North: The Art of Eustace Paul Ziegler, there are only two similar paintings that are comparable in size and one is a behemoth 48 x 114 inches.  Last July at the Coeur d'Alene Art Auction, a 16" x 14" oil titled Packhorses Below Mt. McKinley sold for a strong $32,175.  In 2004, a 16" x 20" oil titled Pack Train Near Mt. McKinley sold for $28,000 plus the juice at the Coeur d'Alene Art Auction.  The record price for an Eustace Ziegler painting at auction is $47,600, so there's a fair chance that the upcoming painting at Bonhams could set a new record for a Ziegler work because of the size, rarity, and it's a subject matter you would expect as a collector of Ziegler's work.

Plains Indian Warrior, 1894 by Henry Farny; 16" x 11"
The next painting that jumps out at me is by Henry Farny titled Southern Plains Indian Warrior, 1894.  It's a 16 x 11 inch gouache on paper estimated $100,000 - $150,000.  It's a classic Farny composition with the focus on an isolated figure surrounded by lavenders and sage greens that were common in Farny's work.  I especially like the detail in the headdress and breastplate.  A comparable painting measuring 8.25" x 10" titled On The Firing Line was estimated $60,000-$90,000 in 2009 and sold post auction for $45,000 in Reno at the Coeur d'Alene Art Auction.  Now that's what I would consider a "recession-buy" because it's a nice painting sold at the wrong time.  In 2006, during a strong art market, The Apache sold for $156,800 and only measured 5.7" x 4".  In 2008 at a Christie's sale, The Warrior measuring 15" x 9" was estimated $300,000 - $500,000 but it passed.  I'm going to take a shot in the dark and guess the reserve was too high, because that estimate is pretty aggressive.  However, it's a comparable painting done during his most prolific time period (1890-1906) so I think the pre-sale estimate of $100,000-$150,000 for Plains Indian Warrior, 1894 is fair and the fact that the subject matter is a plains Indian, probably Sioux, is a nice collection factor.

Although it's not a traditional Southwest subject matter, I personally like the E.M. Henning's painting titled Hands of Toil, Choiggia, Italy because you can just see the life and stories in the woman's hands and facial expression.  It also has a strong provenance coming from the artist's widow.  It's also a pretty good size, but $50,000-$70,000 might be a tad aggressive.  If I had $50,000 to spend on a Hennings, I would rather acquire one of his wildlife paintings with the aspens, but who's asking me?  Beware of a couple of the Frank Tenney Johnson paintings because they're unsigned.  After the Shower in the Land of Crows by Edgar Paxson was offered by John Moran Auctioneers in February of 2010 with an estimate of $40,000-$60,000 and passed, so it's estimated more accurately at $10,000-$15,000.

E.M. Hennings Hands of Toil, Choiggia, Italy

Edgar Paxson Shower in the Land of Crows


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