Treadway-Toomey Galleries’ 20th Century Art & Design Auction Sets Record for Karl Schmidt Painting In a surprising twist, a Karl Schmidt triptych estimated at $6,000 to $8,000 stole the show when bidding escalated to achieve $120,000, a record price for this American painter’s work.
News-Antique.com - Nov 30,-0001 - Oak Park, Ill. – The catalog cover for the year-ending Treadway-Toomey Galleries’ 20th Century Art & Design Auction showcased what was believed to be the sale’s most valuable piece, an illustrious Tiffany Studios Memorial landscape window estimated at $90,000 to $120,000. And on Dec. 4 in Oak Park, Ill., the Tiffany masterpiece did realize $114,000. But it ranked second among top sellers. In a surprising twist, a Karl Schmidt triptych estimated at $6,000 to $8,000 stole the show when bidding escalated to achieve $120,000, a record price for this American painter’s work.
A dreamy landscape with billowing, saffron-toned clouds and splashes of aquamarine sky, Schmidt’s “Tall Trees of California” was implemented in oil on board in 1915. Hinged together in original frames, the three-panel painting was 30 inches wide by 14 inches high. A native of Worcester, Mass., who spent much of his life in California, Schmidt (1890-1962) was known for his landscape and marine paintings.
“Nothing is more riveting at an auction than runaway bidding on an unexpected piece,” Don Treadway, gallery owner, said. “And nothing is more subjective than the way someone views a work of art. Because art can evoke such a visceral reaction, it’s impossible to predict what will happen on any given day, which obviously is part of what makes auctions exciting.”
While it’s often said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, Louis Comfort Tiffany had other ideas about the key to discerning beauty. According to "Louis Comfort Tiffany" author Jacob Baal-Teshuva, Tiffany declared, “It is all a matter of education, and we shall never have good art in our homes until the people learn to distinguish the beautiful from the ugly.”
Quite a few indisputably beautiful Tiffany creations fetched tremendous prices at this sale. The “River of Life” landscape window was far and away the most elaborate and stunning. The dusk scene depicted rolling hills against a peachy-pink sky with a swirling river of gold and pink winding along banks of violet-shaded cypress trees. The foreground accentuated a cluster of virtually velvet, purplish-black irises, white dogwood blossoms and an emerald pine tree. Completed at Tiffany Studios New York in 1918, the piece was composed of plated layers of leaded, mottled, fractured, drapery and etched glass in a profusion of jewel tones. Including its wood frame, the window measured 49.5 inches high by 38 inches wide.
A subdued landscape by noted tonalist painter Charles Warren Eaton (1857-1937) —a stark contrast to the colorful ones by Tiffany and Schmidt— brought the sale’s third best price of $96,000 (est. $30,000-$50,000). “The Last Gleam,” a circa 1911 oil on canvas, was a serene twilight scene with stately trees at water’s edge. Along the horizon line, a muted mauve and blue-gray sky was highlighted with delicate ribbons of gold from the setting sun’s slightest remaining rays. It was an exceptional example of this American artist’s work.
Once a part of the Delano Roosevelt Estate, a handsome Gustav Stickley table with a Grueby tile top fetched $54,000