Art from Collection of Senator William Benton Will Be Auctioned May 7 at Treadway-Toomey Galleries Reginald Marsh’s “Gypsy Rose Lee, The Star and Garter,” a painting from the collection of Senator William Benton that drew fire in the McCarthyism era, is among the works that will be auctioned.
the book business, publishing the 54 volume Great Books of the Western World and encyclopedias in French, Spanish and Japanese. In 1964, he bought the Merriam Company, which published the line of Webster’s dictionaries. He worked on the 15th edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, an editorial project estimated to have cost $32,000,000, the largest single private investment in publishing history. In 1972, the Art Museum at the University of Connecticut officially became The William Benton Museum of Art to honor the former United States Senator from Connecticut and University of Connecticut Trustee. Shortly after the honor was bestowed, Senator Benton passed away but not before giving the Museum a selection of theater drawings from his large collection of works by Reginald Marsh. William Benton died in New York on March 18, 1973.
William Benton’s courage and keen sense for quality is reflected in the artwork he collected. He was never a follower of someone else’s taste; he was confident in his ability to identify the highest level of achievement in artistic expression. The following thirteen works come directly from the Benton family.
Lot No. 607. Reginald Marsh (American, 1898-1954), “Gypsy Rose Lee and the Star and Garter,” c. 1943; ink, watercolor/paper, 22” x 29”, signed, dated, and titled; labels verso. Marsh was an urban realist working in New York as both a painter and illustrator. He opposed abstraction, and focused entirely on people involved in day-to-day life activities. Marsh met William Benton while studying at Yale, and the two were good friends. Exhibited: The Whitney Museum of Art, The William Benton Museum of Art, School of Fine Arts, University of Connecticut (Reginald Marsh Retrospective). Provenance: The collection of Senator William Benton. Estimated at $50,000-70,000.
Lot No. 608. Reginald Marsh (American, 1898-1954), “The Trapezists”, c. 1940; watercolor and ink/paper, 25” x 16”, unsigned; there are vignette drawings in the border as well as writing which are hidden by the matte; exhibition labels verso. Exhibited: Museum of Art, University of Connecticut, William Benton Museum of Art, 1973. Provenance: The collection of Senator William Benton. Estimated at $50,000-70,000.
Lot No. 609. John Heliker (American, 1909-2000), “The Heights,” c. 1957; oil/canvas, 25” x 40”, signed and dated; labels verso. Originally a Cubist painter working with shattered planes of color, he evolved into a realist with loose modernist brushwork and bright color in the painting of interiors and the Maine coast. In 1965, Heliker was a founding member of the New York Studio School with Mercedes Matter, Alex Katz, Leland Bell, Philip Guston and Nicholas Carone. Exhibited: Whitney Museum, Wadsworth Atheneum, The World Exposition: Suita Osaka Japan (Encyclopaedia Britannica Pavillion, American Park, 1970). Provenance: The collection of Senator William Benton. Estimated at $2000-4000.
Lot No. 610. Reuben Tam (American, 1916-1991), “Volcanic Range”, c. 1947; oil/canvas, 20” x 40”, signed and dated; titled verso with label from Downtown Gallery (NY). Tam worked in Hawaii, and summered on Monhegan Island. He studied at the University of Hawaii and at the New School for Social Research. His atmospheric