Arader Galleries Auction on April 5th

- by Thomas C. McKinney

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Come April 5th, Arader Galleries in conjunction with Mid-Hudson Auction Galleries will be offering a sale of prints, paintings, books, and maps concerning Natural History and Americana. The auction is broken up into six sections covering Birds (lots 1-58), Quadrupeds (59-97), Prints by Mark Catesby (98-121), Paintings (122-125), Natural History Watercolors and Books (126-136) and rare books and maps from the Streeter Collection (137-186).

As some who follow Arader Gallery sales may have become accustomed to, works of John James Audubon, the exceptional naturalist, are well represented. The first two portions of the sale, Birds and Quadrupeds, are entirely devoted to him. Ninety-six individual prints are offered, as well as the seven volume, first octavo edition of The Birds of America, [1839-] 1840-1844 (lot 58, est. $40,000-50,000).

Collectors of prints from the southern colonies of British North America may be more drawn to the third section of the sale devoted to Mark Catesby. The English-born artist and naturalist undertook a series of expeditions beginning in 1712 to the southern colonies during which he drew and observed previously undocumented wildlife. These drawings and written observations eventually became the most complete and unique natural history study ever done. The publication, Natural History of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama Islands, is widely considered the greatest achievement of eighteenth-century art and science; the twenty-four lots listed for auction come from that work. All lots are estimated $4,000 or less.

Some of the most heavyweight items can be found in the smallest part of the sale within Paintings. The Grand Canyon by Edward Potthast (lot 122, est. $450,000-600,000) is a beautiful rendition that words don’t do justice; it must be seen. Another painting being offered is The Polar Bear (70° North) by Frederick Judd Waugh (lot 123, est. $325,000-400,000). Waugh is known as one of the finest American painters of the twentieth century and is more specifically recognized as a great painter of the sea. This painting of the Arctic was done at a time when the public’s attention was focused on the area as “The Last Frontier,” and this is a great opportunity to own a stunning work of art from the era.

Lot 125 from the Painting portion is unique from any auction lot I’ve ever seen (having done data entry for AE as well as writing about auctions, I have seen thousands upon thousands of lots). Compared to the three other lots that have an average low estimate of over $300,000, this lot is cheap, estimated at $1,000-2,000. What would a winning bid get you? To start, four hours of legal advice. But the reason it’s included in this auction is that an oil painting influenced by primitive and surrealist art done by the attorney, Jeffery M. Leving, is included. His paintings have been exhibited in many prestigious galleries and shows, including: “Zen: The Spiritual in Art” at the Murphy Hill Gallery; “Floating Spaces” at the William Hill Gallery; the Xanadu Gallery; and the Floating World Gallery. His paintings may be viewed at his online gallery at www.levinggallery.com.

 

Of the ten lots of Natural History Watercolors & Books on offer, works from Joseph Redouté and Jacques le Moyne de Morgues comprise six. Redouté is the best known botanical illustrator in history, having been called both the “Rembrandt” and the “Raphael” of flower painting by his 19th century contemporaries. Four of his watercolors are for sale. Jacques le Moyne de Morgues on the otherhand was almost lost to history. Born in 1533, very little was known or recognized about him until the 20th century. As the Arader Galleries tell us:

 

“In 1922, however, Spencer Savage, librarian of the Linnean Society, made a discovery that opened the way to the subsequent definition of Le Moyne as an artistic personality; he recognized that a group of fifty-nine watercolors of plants contained

in a small volume, purchased by the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1856 solely for its fine sixteenth-century French binding, was in fact by Le Moyne. Savage’s publications relating to this discovery paved the way for subsequent attributions to the artist of other important groups of drawings and watercolors, the most notable being held by the British Museum and the Oak Spring Library of Virginia.”

 

Owning works of le Moyne de Morgues is not for the faint of heart—estimates for the two prints in the sale are both valued between $70,000-90,000.

 

The fine books and maps bring up the rear of the sale. The introductory paragraphs contain an interesting surprise for me upon reading: “These books, and others once owned by great American bibliophiles such as Frank T. Siebert, Jay T. Snider, Bruce McKinney, and James S. Copley, are by no means the extent of the collection of fine Americana in the Arader Galleries Library, but their inclusion in this auction is an opportunity to acquire a superb example of an icon of American history at a more than reasonable price.” Nice to see my Dad receiving recognition among those names! And in fact the first lot of the section is an item previously owned by him. Samuel de Champlain’s Les Voyages de la Nouvelle France occidentale… is offered as lot 137, for an estimated $180,000-200,000. This is the (Pierre S.) Du Pont copy which also features my father’s bookplate reading Liceat decernere foro, or “let the market decide.” It is three parts in one volume and includes the rare double sheet engraved map.

 

As the Arader Galleries are known as map specialists, it should surprise no one that maps are the main attraction in the fine books and maps part of the sale. Every book for sale contains maps and all parts of the United States are on display in the various lots. Whether you collect maps of California and the West, or New York State, there are items that will appeal.

 

For Mr. Arader this sale is one of perhaps six this year that continue his transition from an exclusively retail firm with four locations to a firm that continues its retail presences and augments them with a rising auction presence.

 

Link to the Arader Galleries

 

A link to the sale