Christie’s Record-Breaking Americana Auction Totals $9.29 Million

Christie’s annual sale of Important Americana has made waves in the auction world, shattering records and surpassing all expectations.

The auction, which took place over two live sessions on 18 and 19 January 2024, saw a remarkable total of $9,294,784—a staggering increase, more than doubling last year’s figures.

Unprecedented Success: Breaking Down the Numbers

The success of Christie’s annual sale of Important Americana is evident in the impressive statistics. The auction achieved a remarkable 122% hammer against the low estimate, with an outstanding 80% of lots finding new homes.

A Carved And Painted Trade Figure Depicting A Racetrack Tout Probably New York City Or Chicago, Circa 1880

Notably, more than one in four buyers and bidders in the sale were newcomers to the Americana category at Christie’s. These figures underscore the growing interest and expanding audience for Americana art.

Diverse Range, Extraordinary Prices

The diversity of the Americana category was highlighted by the two top lots in the sale. A rare lifetime depiction of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart, one of the first President’s greatest portraitists, fetched an astonishing $2,833,000.

Rembrandt Peale (1778-1860)George WashingtonOil On Canvas
Rembrandt Peale (1778-1860)
George Washington
Oil On Canvas

Simultaneously, an intimate portrait of Mrs. Martha Dorsey and Mary Ann Dorsey, crafted by Joshua Johnson, the first known Black American professional portraitist, set a world auction record, achieving an impressive $1,134,000. These exceptional prices reflect the broad appeal and significance of Americana art.

Julia Jones, a Christie’s Americana Specialist, expressed her enthusiasm about the thriving state of Americana. She stated, “Americana is thriving,” emphasizing the world record set for Joshua Johnson’s portrait.

Jones also highlighted the remarkable prices achieved for Gilbert Stuart’s ‘George Washington (Vaughan Type)‘ and the ‘Pocket Pistols’ owned by Alexander Hamilton—both contributing to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s acquisition fund.

Additional Highlights: Founding Fathers, Folk Art, and Decorative Arts

The auction featured a significant group of works related to the Founding Fathers, including Thomas Sully and Jane Cooper Sully’s portrait of Benjamin Franklin, fetching $176,400.

Other notable pieces included a Rembrandt Peale portrait of George Washington, making $529,200, and a pair of pocket pistols belonging to Alexander Hamilton, reaching an impressive $819,000.

The General Alexander Hamilton Pair Of Flintlock Pocket Pistols Made By Jean-Louis Jalabert (1766- 1846),
Saint Etienne, France, 1798-1804

Beyond the record-breaking Joshua Johnson portrait, the sale showcased exceptional results for various works. Ammi Phillip’s portrait of Ruth Palmer achieved $201,600, Ralph Earl’s 1790 pair of portraits of Thomas and Anna Tucker fetched $163,800, and a carved and painted trade figure of a Racetrack Tout from the 1880s brought in $163,800.

The wide range of decorative arts witnessed highlights, including a group of 40 items from the Estate of Marvin Davidson, led by a rare pair of dragon-carp tureens, covers, and stands, making $40,320.

Noteworthy sales also included the Deshler side chair by master Philadelphia carver John Pollard, reaching $126,000; a Massachusetts bombé chest-of-drawers at $163,800; and an early New York silver tankard by Benjamin Wynkoop, surpassing expectations at $151,200.

Ammi Phillips (1788-1865) Mrs. Ruth (Haynes) Palmer
Oil On Canvas

Conclusion: Americana’s Resounding Success at Christie’s

In conclusion, Christie’s annual sale of Important Americana has not only set records but has also solidified the thriving state of the Americana market.

With unprecedented prices, diverse offerings, and a growing audience, this auction signifies a booming era for Americana art, making it a pivotal event in the art world.

As the market continues to evolve, Christie’s remains at the forefront, showcasing the richness and significance of Americana for art enthusiasts worldwide.

Images: Christie’s

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