Twentieth-century Western landscapes dominated Heritage Auctions’ Art of the West sale. 


Charles Partridge Adams’s Arapahoe Peak and Glacier captured a scene that is still unchanged in today’s Indian Peaks Wilderness, west of Boulder, Colorado. It also captured a price of $10,625 at the Art of the West auction.


Art of the American West is often nostalgic, depicting a bygone era. By the time Charles Russell painted the West he knew, it was already vanishing…or vanished. But, even as the times changed, the landscape remained. As the Lakota people reassured themselves, “the earth is all that lasts,” something chronicled by Mark Lee Gardner in his recent book of the same title. That lasting earth was painted by 19th-century artists, and it continued to be recorded throughout the 20th century. The abiding Western landscape was depicted among artwork offered at Heritage Auctions’ Art of the West sale on March 3. 

While many of the works of art at the auction did not fetch particularly high prices, they did manage to capture the beauty that is still found in the West. Painting at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, Charles Partridge Adams concentrated on the Colorado Rockies, as seen in his oil painting Arapahoe Peak and Glacier. Simply titled The Great West, John Modesitt’s cliffs could be anywhere on the Colorado Plateau, which straddles the states of Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona. Within the plateau, the Colorado River’s greatest handiwork was captured by Matt Smith in his Winter Morning–Grand Canyon. That broad expanse contrasts with Walter Gonske’s closeup of a New Mexican arroyo in Arroyo Grande. Swedish immigrant Birger Sandzen spent his career in Kansas but traveled extensively throughout the Rockies and the Southwest, which doubtless inspired his woodcut Late Moonlight.

The American West offers a vast expanse, from the prairies to the Pacific Coast. Man’s somewhat tenuous presence on the rolling hills of the prairie is depicted by Peter Ellenshaw in Prairie. Man’s impact on that landscape is almost ghostly in Haystacks by Eanger Irving Couse, one of the founders of the Taos Society of Artists. Couse’s impressionistic approach stands in contrast with the luminescence of a Pacific sunset in Robert William Wood’s Sea of Gold. A native of England, Wood embraced the landscapes of the West, painting them almost exclusively after moving to the United States in 1910. 

Both breathtaking and intimate views of the American West were recorded and shared at Heritage Auctions’ Art of the West sale. Even if the Old West often depicted in art has vanished, the landscape has indeed lasted and is enjoyed today. Perhaps, like the Lakotas claim, it is the only part of the West that truly remains.


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Dwarfed by cliffs above an arroyo, a rider almost disappears into The Great West. John Modesitt’s painting with that title sold for $2,750 at the auction.


Matt Smith’s Winter Morning—Grand Canyon, depicting the north rim of
the canyon and painted in 1992, sold for $4,000.


Reminiscent of impressionist paintings with the same title by Monet, Haystacks by Eanger Irving Couse sold for $6,250.


Man-made rock walls soon disappear into the vastness of nature in Peter Ellenshaw’s Prairie, which sold for $5,750.


A small ranch is absorbed by the landscape in Walter Gonski’s impressionistic painting Arroyo Grande, which went for $4,750 at the auction.


Birger Sandzen, who painted many Western landscapes, was also known for his prints, particularly woodcuts. A bid of $1,125 acquired his woodcut Late Moonlight.


Robert William Wood’s landscape paintings were quite popular during the 1950s and 1960s. Like Sea of Gold, which sold for $2,750 at the auction, they frequently depicted Western scenery.

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