Featuring 111 Works by Thomas Hart Benton -- All but 5 of Benton's Known Prints
Including an Extensive Collection of Books and Autographs
Creekmore Fath Was an Influential Figure in 20th Century Texas Politics
Doyle New York was honored to auction Prints and Books from The Creekmore and Adele Fath Charitable Foundation Collection of Austin, Texas on November 8, 2011. This important single-owner sale brings together Mr. Fath's two most enduring passions -- politics and art.
With competitive bidding from buyers in the salesroom, on the telephones and via the Internet, the sale totaled $566,781,surpassing the pre-sale estimate of $315,250-463,700, with a strong 91% sold by lots and 98% sold by value.
Strong prices were realized for Benton’s iconic Going West,1934, which sold for $28,125; Threshing, 1941, which reached a record $6,250; The Race, 1942, $10,000 and Running Horses, 1955, a record $8,125. Mr. Fath's collecting extended to other American regionalists such as Grant Wood, Reginald Marsh, John Steuart Curry, William Gropper and George Bellows, as well as works by the Mexican social realists they so admired -- Diego Rivera, Jose Clemente Orozco and David Siquieros. The Collection featured 14 of the 19 lithographs that Grant Wood produced, including July Fifteenth, 1938, which sold for $7,500 and Sultry Night, 1939, a record $16,250; Bellows' 1923 lithograph, Billy Sunday, $17,500; Curry’s John Brown,1939, $5,625; and several important works by Diego Rivera, including Sleep, 1932, $10,625, and Zapata, 1932, $20,000.
All prices include the Buyer's Premium.
Creekmore and Adele Fath
Creekmore Fath (1916-2009) was an influential figure in Texas politics. After law school at the University of Texas, where he co-founded the campus Progressive Democrats, he moved to Washington to serve in the FDR administration and then the Democratic National Committee. He married Adele Hay in 1947 and moved back to Austin, where he ran unsuccessfully for Congress as a liberal New Dealer. He spent the rest of his live as a sought-after political consultant and kingmaker and a standard bearer for progressive politics.
Adele Hay Fath (1917-2007) was the daughter of New York socialite Alice Appleton Hay and anthropologist Clarence Hay, the son of John Hay, Lincoln’s private secretary. Mrs. Fath followed her husband to Austin, where she became a prominent hostess and philanthropist.
Prints by Thomas Hart Benton
In 1939, after receiving his first fee as a lawyer, Mr. Fath ordered his first Benton lithograph for $5 from Associated American Artists. Mr. Fath's quest to locate and purchase as many Benton prints as possible culminated in the publication of his highly respected catalogue raisonne of the artist's lithographs, years of personal friendship with the artist, and the largest private collection of Benton prints outside the artist's family. The Fath Collection comprised all but a few of the approximately 100 lithographs thatBenton created, including several not listed in the catalogue raisonne. Among the highlights were the iconic works Going West, 1934; Wreck of the Ol' 97, 1944; and Jesse James, 1936.
Prints by Other Artists
Mr. Fath's print collecting extended to other American regionalists, such as Grant Wood, Reginald Marsh, John Steuart Curry, William Gropper and George Bellows, as well as works by the Mexican social realists they so admired -- Diego Rivera, Jose Clemente Orozco and David Siquieros. The Fath Collection features 14 of the 19 lithographs that Grant Wood produced, including July Fifteenth, 1938; Sultry Night, 1939; and Approaching Storm, 1940; Curry's John Brown, 1939; Bellows' 1923 lithograph, Billy Sunday; and several important works by Diego Rivera, including Open Air School, 1932, and Zapata, 1932.
Books and Autographs
The Collection’s rare book library was offered in three distinct sections -- Americana and Presidential Biography, Modern Literature, and Illustrated Books. Highlights included the first American edition of Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia, signed first editions such as Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, and an archive devoted to Fath's creation of the Thomas Hart Benton catalogue raisonné, including autograph letters between author and subject.
Mr. Fath stated in an exhibition catalogue for a selection of his prints, "The desire to collect, and the pleasure derived from each acquisition, are as exciting and compelling as passionate love."
We invite you to read Smithsonian magazine's ARTiculations, in which Henry Adams discusses Creekmore Fath, Thomas Hart Benton, and the auction. More