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  • New Record for John Singer Sargent at $23.5 Million
    December 7, 2004 NEW YORK, NEW YORK.

    John Singer Sargent's Group with Parasols (A Siesta).

    At Sotheby's, John Singer Sargent's celebrated painting entitled Group with Parasols (A Siesta) set a new record for the artist at auction when it sold for $23,528,000, far surpassing the pre-sale estimate of $9/12 million*. Two determined bidders in the room competed with two on the telephone, but William Stahl, Sotheby's Vice Chairman and today's auctioneer, bidding on behalf of a collector, prevailed with the winning bid. This work highlighted a sale of American Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture that achieved an unprecedented $107,855,400 and was part of the famed Collection of Rita and Daniel Fraad which totaled $65,083,400, the highest total for any single owner sale in this category. Altogether, sixteen works exceeded $1 million, and the sale was 89.7% sold by lot and 95.2% sold by value. Auction records were also set for 32 other artists including George de Forest Brush, Dennis Miller Bunker, Charles Bird King, Gari Melchers, Willard Leroy Metcalf and Everett Shinn.

    "In the field of American Paintings, this was an historic day," commented Dara Mitchell and Peter Rathbone, Directors of Sotheby's American Paintings Department. "We were elated with the extraordinary results that included an unprecedented number of paintings selling for more than $1 million, and countless artist records broken. We were particularly honored to offer Property from the Collection of Rita and Daniel Fraad - collectors whose vision and attention to quality were unparalleled."

    Rita and Daniel Fraad assembled one of the most extraordinary collections of American Art and many of the works offered today brought multiples of their pre-sale estimates. John Singer Sargent's Group with Parasols (A Siesta) which sold for $23,528,000 is an example of Sargent's mature work, inspired by his travels in the Alpine region. It is admired as a particularly personal and aesthetically progressive composition painted in 1905 featuring the artist's traveling companions and close family members in the picturesque countryside. The arrangement of men and women in relaxed repose with intertwining limbs and unusual familiarity was a bold contrast to the social context of the age.

    Also impressive was Everett Shinn's Stage Scene which sold for $7,848,000 (est. 2.5/3.5 million*), a record for the artist at auction. In this work, the artist's fascination with the glamour and drama of the theater is reflected, depicting two young starlets bowing to the audience. The artist presented this work to the Lotos Club in New York in 1946 when he became a member, and the Fraads purchased it through Hammer Gallery in 1964.

    The Fraad Collection included several works by George Bellows including Kids, a major canvas painted in 1906, that sold for $6,168,000 (est. $2.5/4.5 million*). This work with its dark palette and broad brushstrokes illustrate the influence of the artist's friend Robert Henri and the Ashcan school. Bellows is perhaps best remembered for his boxing paintings, and The Knock Out from 1907, one of the first boxing images he completed, brought $5,048,000 (est. $1.5/2.5 million*).

    Maurice Prendergast was also a favorite of Mr. & Mrs. Fraad and his watercolor entitled The Fountain, Boston brought an impressive $2,472,000 (est. $1.2/1.8 million*). This is a classic example of the artist's fully realized and mature style. It was painted circa 1900-01 and depicts a picturesque crowd around a fountain in Boston offering a kaleidoscope of jewel-like color, drawing the viewer into the elaborate scene. Some of the other works that set records today were Willard Metcalf's The Little White House which achieved $1,016,000 surpassing the $250/350,000* estimate, and Gari Melchers' Portrait of Mrs. George Hitchcock which sold for $932,000 (est. $80/120,000*).

    Sotheby's sale of American Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture also featured works from the Collection of Pierre Bergé from his pied-a-terre at the Pierre Hotel in New York. Chief among the works was George de Forest Brush's luminous painting entitled The Indian and the Lily which brought a record-setting $4,824,000 (est. $2/3 million*). In 1881, George de Forest Brush and his brother spent several years in the American West documenting all aspects of Indian life and culture, and The Indian and the Lily is an iconic blend of stylistic classicism and ideological romanticism. From this same Collection was Charles Bird King's portrait of Ottoe Half Chief, Husband of Eagle of Delight which brought $1,352,000, far surpassing the pre-sale estimate of $150/250,000* and setting a record for the artist at auction. Together with the furniture and decorations from Mr. Bergé's Pierre Hotel apartment that were sold yesterday at Sotheby's, the Collection brought a total of $8,714,280.

    Other works of note included Dennis Miller Bunker's monumental and elegant Portrait of Anne Page painted in 1887 which brought $3,592,000 (est. $1/1.5 million*); Marsden Hartley's landscape entitled Winding Road from the CIGNA Museum and Art Collection that sold for $904,000 (est. $300/500,000*); and, George Henry Durrie's charming Connecticut scene entitled Seven Miles to Farmington which came from the Collection of Mr. & Mrs. Walter M. Jeffords and sold for $1,128,000, nearly three times the high estimate*.

    Record prices for artists at auction were achieved today for George de Forest Brush, Dennis Miller Bunker, Glenn O. Coleman, Dean Cornwell, Arthur Bowen Davies, Guy Pène Du Bois, George Henry Durrie, John Fulton Folinsbee, Walter Gay, Victor William Higgins, Charles C.J. Hoffbauer, Malvina Cornell Hoffman, Eastman Johnson, Joe Jones, Charles Bird King, Daniel Ridgway Knight, Leon Kroll, Gari Melchers, Willard Leroy Metcalf, Francis Davis Millet, Walter Launt Palmer, Fairfield Porter, Edward Henry Potthast, Sarah Jane Prentiss, Albert Pinkham Ryder, John Singer Sargent, Walter Elmer Schofield, Christian Schussele, Everett Shinn, Henry Merwin Shrady, Jesse Talbot, John Whorf, Charles Herbert Woodbury.