Two 1967 oil paintings by Howard A. Terpning (b. 1927), the painter known as “the storyteller of the Native American,’’ lead off James D. Julia’s auction of more than 2,000 lots of fine art, Asian works of art, and antiques Feb. 4-6 at its Fairfield, Maine, gallery.
“Searching the Mountains,” which depicts horses with riders crossing a mountainous terrain, has a $200,000-$300,000 estimate, while “Spring Came Early,” depicting a Native American on a horse and a man by his horse at the edge of a snow-covered mountain cliff, has a $175,000-$275,000 estimate.
The paintings were dedicated to the late arms collector and dealer Norm Flayderman (1928-2013), whom Terpning inscribed as “my friend.”
Early in his career, Terpning, who was born in Oak Park, Ill., was a commercial artist producing covers for Time, Newsweek, and other publications as well as movie posters for such films as “The Guns of Navarone” and “Doctor Zhivago.”
A commission from Winchester Firearms sparked his interest in the Old West, so in the 1970s Terpning moved to Arizona and started painting western scenes. Within three years he was elected to the Academy of Western Art and the Cowboy Artists of America, the two major showcases of contemporary western art. His book “The Art of Howard Terpning” (Bantam Books, 1992) won the Wrangler “Outstanding Book Art” award from the National Cowboy Hall of Fame.
The two paintings are among more than 300 being offered on the first day of the auction and are as varied as “Afternoon Thaw” ($6,000-$9,000), a winter scene by the Cape Ann artist Emile A. Gruppe (1896-1978), “La Petite Danseuse la Rose” ($10,000-$20,000), depicting a dancer holding a rose in a woodland setting by the French artist Jean-Frederic Schall (1752-1825), and an oil on panel by the British-born marine artist Louis Dodd (1943-2006) depicting the merchant ship Roanoke (built at Bath, Maine) leaving New York on Dec.18, 1892, bound for San Francisco on its maiden voyage ($18,000-$25,000).
Prints and photographs are also being sold, with a group of 15 photographs and silver prints of the Beatles and Bob Dylan by the renowned portrait photographer Richard Avedon (1923-2004) being offered in five lots with estimates from $2,000-$3,000 to $5,000-$8,000.
Also featured is a collection of historical items formed by Judge George Greene (1950-2014), founder of the Greene Museum of Southern History in Phenix City, Ala. Highlighting the collection are a circa 1300 Native American dog-shaped effigy pot and memorabilia relating to “Blind Tom” Wiggins of Columbus, Ga., who was born in 1848 into slavery and blind but became a piano virtuoso playing to sellout crowds in this country and Europe. The pot, excavated in 1928 at the Neisler Indian burial mounds in Taylor County, Ga., has a $20,000-$30,000 estimate and the “Blind Tom” memorabilia, including his sheet music, broadsides, and photographs, has a $10,000-$20,000 estimate.
Other auction highlights include a 19th-century copper grasshopper weather vane attributed to L. W. Cushing and Sons of Waltham ($60,000-$80,000), a circa 1850 set of armor ($65,000-$85,000) after the original 16th-century armor of Joachim II, Elector of Brandenburg, and a painting of George Washington kneeling in prayer at Valley Forge ($70,000-$80,000). This collaborative portrait was painted by Lambert Sachs (1818-1903) with the landscape by fellow German artist Paul Weber (1823-1916), both of whom lived and worked for a time in Pennsylvania.
The Asian works of art auction Feb. 6 features over 200 lots from the estate of a Taiwan diplomatic family, one of whose members was the Canton-born Amherst College graduate Ye Gongchao (1904-81), who served as the Republic of China’s foreign minister from 1950-58 and ambassador to the United States from 1958-61.
The collection is highlighted by a nearly 3-foot Ming dynasty bronze figure of the Chinese goddess of compassion Guan Yin on a lotus stand ($160,000-$180,000), a 6-inch Qing dynasty carved white jade censer ($50,000-$65,000), and a 6-inch Qing pear-shaped vase with a tea dust glaze ($40,000-$60,000).
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A painting by Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986), who holds the world auction record for the highest price paid for a work by a woman artist, was the top seller at Skinner’s Jan. 23 auction of American and European paintings, while a reprint of a photograph taken by her husband, the internationally known photographer Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946), was the top seller at the prints and photography sale.
O’Keeffe’s “Banyan Tree With Palms, Bermuda,” a 21¾-by-14 ¾-inch graphite on paper, sold for $237,000 against a $40,000-$60,000 estimate. It was unsigned but identified and dated “1934” on a detached label from Hirschl & Adler Galleries in New York.
It was one of O’Keeffe’s iconic large-scale flower paintings, “Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1,” that set the record for a woman artist when the painting of a white trumpet-shaped flower sold for $44.4 million at Sotheby’s last fall.
The second top seller at the paintings auction was “Sunlight in the Studio” by the New York artist Irving Ramsey Wiles (1861-1948) which sold for $219,000 against a $100,000-$150,000 estimate. It was one of two paintings in the sale that had been exhibited in 1893 at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.
“Figure in White,” an 1890 genre painting of an elegantly dressed woman in an interior setting by the Salem-born Boston School artist Frank Weston Benson (1862-1951), was the auction’s expected top seller but failed to find a buyer. The estimate was $350,000-$550,000.
Paintings by the French artist Edouard Léon Cortès (1882-1969) and the Cuban-born artist Mario Carreño (1913-99) brought the third- and fourth-highest prices. Cortes’s “Place de la République” sold for $46,125 against $15,000-$25,000 and Carreño’s “Tropical Splendor” for $38,120 against $30,000-$50,000.
Stieglitz’s 1915 reprint of his 1907 photograph “The Steerage,” picturing a ship crowded with immigrants, sold for $27,060 against a $12,000-$18,000 estimate.
Other top sellers included Pablo Picasso’s “Face and Owl,” a white earthenware vase decorated with a face painted as an owl ($15,990 against $10,000-$15,000) and a 1523 engraving of Cardinal Albrecht Brandenburg by the German artist Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) that brought $11,070 against $800-$1,firstname.lastname@example.org.