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Monday, November 11, 2013

A Dramatic Weekend at the Arader Fall Audubon Auction!

Arader Galleries' flagship gallery was the key destination in the
nation this weekend for collectors with a love of natural history
illustration.  The third Arader sale -  "John James Audubon:
Monumental Works from Nature" - opened on Friday afternoon and didn't
conclude until late on Saturday as the hammer fell on the last Lot in
the sale.

Friday afternoon ended a busy week of previews, with hundreds of
guests having visited 1016 Madison Avenue to examine the 272 lots in
the sale.  Old friends and new met and enjoyed the largest exhibition
of the printed works of John James Audubon to be seen in decades.
They also reveled in the beauty of works by such luminaries as Georg
Dionysis Ehret, John Abbott, George Brookshaw, Edward Curtis and
Joseph Pierre Redoute.

Friday afteroon included a fascinating talk by Steve Zack from the
Wildlife Conservation Society about efforts being made by the WCS and
others to preserve bird populations and the habitat on which they
depend.  Adubon's observations of the passenger pigeon were a key part
of the talk.

After refreshments, a standing room only crowd heard noted botanist
and author Barney Lipscomb's lecture "Art and Science: A Botanist's
Eye: Redoute and the Art of Floral Illustration. Barney's lively multi
media presentation took the rapt audience through four centuries of
botanical illustration, culminating with the work of its greatest
practitioner, Joseph Pierre Redoute.  There was not a single observer
who did not come away from Barney's talk without a new and deeper
appreciation of the work of this great painter, and of the importance
illustration has had on science as a whole.

Eager buyers gathered in person, by phone and online Saturday
afternoon for Guernsey's third Arader Sale,  Over one hundred hand
colored aquatint engravings from the masterwork Birds of America were
sold in a spirited bidding session that demonstrated the continuing
appeal of these iconic works of art.  Multiple bidders took one of the
finest works in the sale, the Iceland or Jer Falcon (Plate 266),
quickly past the $100,000 mark before it sold for $170,800 with
premium.  Bidders also responded strongly to the rarely seen
masterpiece The Wood Ibis (Plate 216, $118,950), and a very spirited
battle drove the price of the popular Purple Heron/Reddish Egret
(Plate 256) to a final $122,000. Other works from Audubon's "great
work" also did well, with collectors from around the country and
around the world successfully adding to their collections at the sale.

Hand colored lithographs from Audubon's Quadrupeds of North America
were also popular with bidders, some of whom got tremendous buys on
these quintessentially American artworks.  The American Bison, Male
(Plate 56) and its counterpart American Bison or Buffalo, Female Plate
57) each brought $30,500 with premium, and multiple bidders competed
to acquire exceptional examples of The American Wildcat (Plate
1)($30,500) and The American Elk (Plate 62)($20,740).

Despite it's title, the sale was not limited to works by Audubon.
Astute connoisseurs acquired five of the six original watercolors by
Georg Dionysius Ehret (Lots 236, 238-241), most of the hand colored
engravings from George Brookshaw's Pomona Britannica were sold to
mutiple bidders, and collectors obviously saw great value in the
selection of photogravures from Curtis' great The North American
Indian.

A special moment came part way through the action with a visit from
Harris Pastides, the President of the University of South Carolina.
President Pastides told the crowded auction room about how the Arader
gift of natural history illustration is being used at the University
in the classroom.  It was a great reminder of why at each Arader
auction, up to twenty percent of the hammer price is earmarked for
charities like the University, where a love of learning and of nature
will yield benefits for generations to come.

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