Sargent takes the lead in American Art



On 1 December 2004, “Group with Parasols” by John Singer Sargent looks set to become the most expensive piece of American Impressionism on the art market. The painting, estimated at USD 9-12 million, will be put up for auction by Sotheby’s as part of 274 lots in its sale of American Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture.

John Singer Sargent´s “Cashmere” (1908) holds the record for the most expensive piece of American Impressionism, selling for USD 10.1m on 5 December 1996 at Sotheby´s. Childe F. Hassam is the movement´s second most expensive artist with “Flags, Afternoon on the Avenue” (1917), which sold for USD 7.2m in 1998. After him come James Abbot McNeill Whistler (USD 3.8m for “The Sisters” (1899), sold by Sotheby´s in 1995) and Mary Cassatt (USD 3.7m for “In the Box”, sold on 23 May 1996 at Christie´s). Prices are still a very long way off those of the French impressionists, with the highest prices starting to look outdated.Having exploded at the end of the 1990s, the market seems to be drying up. Only half as many works were put up for auction this year as in 1999. The finest pieces are becoming a rarity, and so too the opportunities for setting records. Not one Mary Cassatt canvas went to auction in 2003.

According to the Artprice Index, the prices of artwork by American impressionists today are 130% higher than in 1990 and 67% higher than in 1996

American Impressionism: Top artists auction records- John Singer SARGENT (1856-1925)USD 10,100,000: Cashmere (1996, Sotheby’s, New-York)- Childe HASSAM (1859-1935) USD 7,200,000: Flags, Afternoon on the Avenue (1998, Christie’s, New-York)- Frank Weston BENSON (1862-1951) USD 3,800,000: The Sisters (1995, Sotheby’s, New-York)- Mary CASSATT (1844-1926)USD 3,700,000: In the Box (1996, Christie’s, New-York)- William Merritt CHASE (1849-1916)USD 3,600,000: Peonies (1993, Sotheby’s, New-York)