BOSTON, MA – June 4, 2020 – The Skinner May 31st auction of American & European Works of Art found great success, doubling the pre-auction estimates. Record-high interest came through participation in the US, Canada, and throughout Europe. Bidders, many for the first time, competed via the Skinner website, Bidsquare, telephone, and absentee bid.
Alfons Walde’s dynamic winter scene, Aufstieg der Schifahrer, reached $612,500, including the buyer’s premium, against an estimate of $250,000-350,000. The painting was commissioned by avid skier Stephan Paul Laufer (Austrian/American, 1903-1970) in the winter of 1937/38. He had seen Walde’s work and desired a painting that captured the beauty and grandeur of skiing in the Alps; the result is this painting, which exhibits all of the hallmarks of Walde’s style at the height of his artistic powers. Laufer fled Austria two days after the Anschluss, before Walde had begun the painting. After World War II, Laufer contacted Walde and arranged for the painting to be sent to him in the United States with the assistance of his close friend and skiing partner, Otto Wolfrum.
Alfred von Wierusz-Kowalski’s A Daring Escape/A Coaching Scene was a close second with a dramatic winter scene whose chill was taken off by the fever-pitch bidding which reached $504,500. The work shows Wierusz-Kowalski at the height of his powers, using strong angles to heighten the scene’s drama as a coach races to escape the wolves and the sun sets on the horizon, further pushing the feeling of uncertainty and creating a story on the precipice of its unfolding. Though Wierusz-Kowalski spent much of his career in Munich and initially favored subjects in a late rococo style, he returned to subjects aligned with his rural Polish childhood and slowly shifted toward equestrian subjects of hunters and warriors. It was not until about 1880 that his style reached its maturity with more typically Polish subjects as illustrated in A Daring Escape.
Among the other highlights are Hans Hofmann’s fresh Image in Blue,which saw $125,000, a rare watercolor by Léon Bonvin, Wildflowers on a Wooded Path, whose charming delicacy led to a new record for the artist, fetching $118,750. Scenes of the American West were captured by William Herbert (Buck) Dunton’s lively painting entitled The Water Hole, which went for $106,250.
In conjunction with the paintings auction, Skinner held its first major timed online auction of prints, multiples, and photographs which closed on May 27th, also a great success. Roy Lichtenstein’s 1992 The Oval Office led the way selling at $39,975 against an estimate of $15,000-25,000. Pyramids and Temple, also by Lichtenstein, fared well at $10,455 and $5,228, respectively.
The top lot for photographs was a group of 24 works from Danny Lyon’s portfolio, Danny Lyon, published in 1979, which sold for$13,530. Iconic 20th century photographers garnered strong results, including Brassaï’sTransmutations portfolio, published in 1967, which brought $9,840, and Edward Weston’s Kelp, from 1930, at $7,995.
The Skinner team conducted a highly successful and sensationally entertaining auction for consignors and bidders. Skinner is currently accepting consignments for the September 2020 auctions, now through the month of June.
Skinner attracts top consignments and commands record-breaking prices in the international auction marketplace. With renowned expertise and extraordinary service, Skinner is the place for buyers, sellers and the passionately curious. Skinner appraisers are familiar faces on PBS’s 17-time Emmy Award-nominated ANTIQUES ROADSHOW. Visit us in Boston, Marlborough, New York, Maine or Florida, or online at https://www.skinnerinc.com