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Sandzen’s ‘Lake at Sunset, Colorado’ earns $670K

An early 20th century painting "Lake at Sunset, Colorado" by the man referred to as "the American Van Gogh" commanded $670K during Heritage Auctions Spring American Art Auction.

DALLAS – Birger Sandzén’s Lake at Sunset, Colorado, 1921 – a tour de force by “the American

Lake at Sunset, Colorado

Birger Sandzen, Lake at Sunset, Colorado, 1921, $670,000 (All photos courtesy Heritage Auctions)

Van Gogh” – sold May 7, 2016, for a record $670,000 in Heritage Auctions’ American Art Auction in Dallas.

Having been held by a Midwest Institution since 1923 when it was originally purchased from the artist at the height of his career, this masterwork led a $4.43 million offering of legendary works at Heritage. Comprising a strong selection of California, Western, and Illustration Art, this sale boasted a multitude of highlights.

Western Art claimed the auction’s top lot honors as Indian Rider, 1918 – a singular example of William Robinson Leigh deploying dramatic movement, bold color, and compositional integrity – sold for $394,000; while Sandzén’s Near the Timberline, Rocky Mountains, Colorado, circa 1919, realized $346,000.

Cottonwoods in the Square – Ernest Leonard Blumenschein’s love letter to the American West, bursting with vibrant color and poignant symbols of Native American heritage – sold at $298,000. Lower Hondo, Spring, circa 1940, by Victor Higgins, Blumenschein’s fellow member of the Taos Society of Artists, fetched $131,250.

The auction’s offering of masterworks by giants of American Illustration Art included a rare piece of Hollywood history painted by Norman Rockwell: the original promotional art for the 1960 film “Cinderfella.” Making its auction debut, the artwork embodies the artistic collaboration of Rockwell and comedian Jerry Lewis, two American legends. Consigned directly from Mr. Lewis’ collection since Rockwell presented it to him in 1960, this original work achieved $250,000.

A Saturday Evening Post cover for July 4, 1931, titled 1776 by Joseph Christian Leyendecker sold for $163,500. Preparing the Boats at Greenwood Lake, 1858, by Hudson River Artist Jasper Francis Cropsey, sold for $100,000 to lead the auction’s selection of early American landscapes. Castle Geyser, Yellowstone National Park, 1891, by Grafton Tyler Brown, set an auction record for the artist after a bidding war pushed the price to $81,250, against an $8,000 pre-auction estimate. Sandia Mountains, 1949, Blumenschein’s stunning work on paper, incorporating pink and orange hues and dynamic lines to provide a striking contrast with the rugged geometric shapes of the mountains, realized $52,500.

Additional highlights include, but are not limited to, two important artworks by LeRoy Neiman: Gerry Mulligan, 1960, which realized $93,750; and Couple in Booth (Self Portrait), 1965, realized $81,250.

Venice, 1887, by Thomas Moran realized $93,750, while Cyrus Edwin Dallin’s bronze, Appeal to the Great Spirit, 1913, a bronze from the Estate of Richard D. Bass, the first man to climb the “Seven Summits,” the tallest mountains on each continent: Realized: $50,000.

For more information, visit Heritage Auctions online at

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