It has been a record breaking week for two icons of American realism. A Depression era view of New Jersey by Edward Hopper has sold for $40m (£24.4m), setting an auction record for the US artist, at Christie’s sale of American art. While Rockwell’s “Saying Grace” has fetched a record price of $46 million at Sotheby’s on Dec. 4. The work was one of seven Rockwells sold from the collection of Kenneth J. Stuart Jr., a longtime friend of the artist’s and the art editor of The Saturday Evening Post.
The entire collection brought $59.7 million. Hopper’s ‘East Wind Over Weehawken’, created in 1934,a Depression era view of New Jersey sold for $40m (£24.4m), also setting an auction record for the US artist. The previous record was $26.9m (£16.4m), set in 2009, for his work Hotel Window. Hopper died in 1967 and was known for his depictions of contemporary American life. The painting located in New Jersey, was one he considered his best artworks. It belonged to the Pennsylvania Museum of the Fine Arts’ collection for more than 60 years and has been sold to free funds to buy newer works.
Hopper’s career took off during the 1930s when several of his works were purchased by the Whitney Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art. He was married to the artist Josephine Nivision, who died 10 months after him. She bequeathed both their bodies of work to the Whitney. The Hopper painting was purchased by the academy from the artist’s dealer in 1952, had been one of only two Hopper paintings in public institutions in Philadelphia. The academy owns the other as well, Apartment Houses, painted in 1923 and purchased from the academy’s prestigious annual show in 1924. It was the first Hopper oil acquired by a museum.
Rockwell’s “Saying Grace tripled Rockwell’s previous auction record of $15.4 million, brought by in 2006, according to Sotheby’s. Sotheby’s sale brought a total $83.9 million, far above its high estimate of $62.1 million. The previous record for American art at auction was set in 1999 by George Bellows’ painting “Polo Crowd” sold at Sotheby’s for $27.7 million