Although works by well-known artists are expected to bring the top prices at Freeman's sale of fine American and European paintings and sculpture next weekend, the sale's real charm may lie in the many discoveries to be found among its more than 200 lots.
Take the 60 lots of European paintings and sculpture that open the sale, beginning at 2 p.m. Dec. 6 at the gallery at 1808 Chestnut St. The top lot among them is an oil on canvas by Gerard Sekoto, a 20th-century painter from South Africa (1913-1993), a nation that not many Americans may associate with fine art, at least in Sekoto's day.
His depiction of two young boys in checked shirts picking fruit out of a bowl has a presale estimate of $40,000 to $60,000, according to the color-illustrated auction catalog.
There are also half a dozen paintings by the late-19th-century French painter Rosa Bonheur, including her Oxen Plowing, done in 1875 and expected to bring $15,000 to $25,000. Also of note are two works by Spanish painters, Carlos Lagar's Picasso-like Harlequin With Monkey ($20,000 to $30,000) and Carlos Nadal's late-impressionist Columbus Circle, New York ($10,000 to $15,000).
More from Lehman Bros. The 33 lots from Freeman's continuing liquidation of the collection of the defunct investment banker Lehman Bros. Holdings Inc., all but one of which will be sold without reserves, bring more discoveries, including the opening lot. Anthropomorphic Bean, by the Northern Ireland sculptor F.E. McWilliam, is one of a series of slightly sexually suggestive "bean sculptures" McWilliam did in the mid-1960s and has a presale estimate of $8,000 to $12,000. It was rescued from 3 World Financial Center, New York, days after the Sept. 11, 2001, collapse of the twin towers.
With one exception, the remaining lots - including works by William Merritt Post, Edmund Darch Lewis, and Alice Kent Stoddard - have presale estimates in the four-figure range, although to judge from bidder activity at the first Lehman Bros. session, many of those estimates will be exceeded. The one exception is Guy Carleton Wiggins' The Plaza in Winter, 1959, which has a reserve and a presale estimate of $15,000 to $25,000.
The auction continues with a single-owner collection of nine modern works by such artists as Frank Stella, Claes Oldenburg, and David Hockney, but the top presale estimate, $70,000 to $100,000, is for an untitled abstract by the lesser-known American Richard Pousette-Dart (1916-1922).
Big names, big prices. The next 100 lots, of American paintings and sculpture, include many of the works by well-known artists, and with top presale estimates, notably two river scenes. The Raritan by John Folinsbee has a presale estimate of $80,000 to $120,000 and Autumn on the Hudson by Jasper Francis Cropsey has a presale estimate of $100,000 to $150,000.
But there are noteworthy items by other artists. Along with two landscapes by William Langson Lathrop, After the Storm and Martha's Vineyard Pasture (each $12,000 to $18,000), are a dozen paintings by Lathrop's friend and collaborator, the painter and teacher Henry Bayley Snell that have low-four-figure presale estimates.
There are two rustic scenes of cattle grazing and resting by Edward Charles Volker (each $7,000 to $10,000); two other rustic oils on canvas by John "Jack" Frost, one depicting a hunter and his dog ($15,000 to $25,000), the other a fly fisherman on a river ($12,000 to $18,000); and two hunting scenes by the 20th-century American B.K. Reilly: Mr. Stewart's Foxhounds Hacking to the Meet and Mr. Stewart's Foxhounds Marking Their Fox (each $6,000 to $10,000).
Works by PAFA artists. The auction winds up with just over two dozen works by artists who studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, notably Daniel Garber's 36-by-44-inch oil-on-canvas Quarries at Byram. Garber (1880-1958), who studied at PAFA from 1899 to 1905, painted the work in 1907, but it remained in his studio in Bucks County's Cuttalossa Valley until July 1985, when it was discovered by the current owner, according to its catalog description. It has a presale estimate of $200,000 to $300,000, the auction's highest.
Two other PAFA-trained Pennsylvania impressionists are represented. Lime-Kiln Pike, Pa., by Edward W. Redfield (1869-1965), signed and dated '96, when the pike was a narrow, perhaps unpaved, country highway, has a presale estimate of $30,000 to $50,000.
And there are three works by Fern I. Coppedge: Cornelia Gleed Thompson Farm Home ($10,000 to $15,000); Nealy's Mill Near New Hope ($25,000 to $40,000); and A Winter Landscape, acquired from the artist in 1947 by the current owner's parents ($30,000 to $50,000).
PAFA also produced the precisionist Charles Henry Demuth (1883-1935). Trees, which was signed by the artist and dated 1916, has a presale estimate of $50,000 to $80,000.
The session also will offer five works by Edmund Darch Lewis with presale estimates in the $1,000-$5,000 range; five by Violet Oakley, including a portrait of William Lathrop in his New Hope studio ($3,000 to $5,000); and Frost Valley Gold by Louis P. Sloan ($800 to $1,200).
Previews are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and next Friday and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5. For more information, call 215-563-9275, or to see the catalog online, go to www.freemansauction.com.