A Floral Still Life by Florine Stettheimer Shatters Her Auction Record

The paintings is just one of 10 Stettheimer works that have come to market.

Christie's Images Ltd. 2024.

Christie’s New York set a new record for Modernist painter Florine Stettheimer at its Modern American art sale on Thursday, April 18. Tulips Under a Canopy (ca. 1925) bore a high estimate of $300,000; it hammered for some $820,000 (for a total of $1 million with the house’s fees). Five bidders competed for the prize by phone. 

The New York artist’s previous record was $375,000, which a buyer at Skinner paid for Floral Still Life (1900) in 2016. Another Stettheimer, Henry McBride on Winslow Homer (ca. 1924), a collage depicting the titular art critic, was estimated to sell for as much as $60,000 on Thursday, and hammered for $72,000 ($90,720 with fees); two phone bidders vied for the work. 

Including these two works, just 10 by Stettheimer have ever come to the auction block. The artist gave both to her lawyer, Joseph Solomon, and they then went to his descendants, who put them up for sale; both appeared in a Stettheimer exhibition at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art in 1995. 

A painting of tulips in a vase under a canopy against a plain background

Florine Stettheimer, Tulips Under a Canopy (ca. 1925). Courtesy Christie’s.

In accordance with the artist’s wishes, Solomon gave most of her works to museums after her death, hence their rarity on the public market. The largest collection of her works resides at New York’s Columbia University, numbering some 65 paintings, drawings, and decorative arts objects. New York’s Museum of Modern Art owns 56 works; when the museum reopened in 2019 after its latest expansion, it devoted to a gallery to “Florine Stettheimer and her Friends.” Her work also resides in collections like New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney. 

The sale also set records for Ida Ten Eyck O’Keeffe, Henry Fitch Taylor, and Charles Goeller. 

A man in black standing by a tree, with two small figures on a branch above

Florine Stettheimer, Henry McBride on Winslow Homer (ca. 1924). Courtesy Christie’s.

“It’s wonderful to once again achieve record-breaking results for women artists at Christie’s,” said Paige Kenstenman, senior specialist in the American art department. “The enthusiasm around the stellar examples by Florine Stettheimer and Ida O’Keeffe was a testament not only to their rarity in the market, but also their deserved places among the pantheon of great American Modernist artists.”

The sale overall totaled $13.3 million; 82 percent of lots found buyers. It was led by Thomas Hart Benton’s landscape White Horse (1955), which went for $2.2 million, within estimate. A flower painting by Georgia O’Keeffe, Blue Morning Glory (1934) exceeded its $1 million high estimate to sell for $1.7 million with fees, coming in as the second-highest lot. Stettheimer’s Tulips Under a Canopy came in third.

“It was also a great day for American illustration, which was led by Maxfield Parrish’s masterwork, Ottaquechee River, at $1.5 million, as well as works by Norman Rockwell and N.C. Wyeth,” said Tylee Abbott, head of the American art department. “This genre consistently inspired some of the most fervent competitive bidding of the sale.”

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