November 18, 2018 will mark the sixth annual Sporting Art Auction at the Keeneland Sales Pavilion—a cooperative venture between the world’s largest Thoroughbred auction house and its Lexington, Kentucky neighbor, Cross Gate Gallery, a leading source of the world’s finest sporting art. Collectors will take home works of artistic merit at prices possibly as low as $2,000, many under $5,000, and others as high as six figures.
This year’s offerings, curated by Greg Ladd, feature 175 lots of painting and sculpture by masters long gone as well as by leading sporting artists of the day. Among the European artists represented are Cecil Alden, Samuel Alken, Lionel Edwards, John Emms, John Ferneley, Harry Hall, John Herring, Michael Lyne, Sir Alfred Munnings, and Belinda Sillars. American artists include Jean Bowman, Paul Brown, Herbert Haseltine, Julie Kirk, Booth Malone, Leroy Neiman, Richard Stone Reeves, Edward Troye, Larry Wheeler, and Franklin Voss. Also included are six works by America’s reigning ‘rock star’ of today’s sporting art world, Andre Pater.
Pater’s works are expected to fetch the highest prices of all living painters, European or American. His foxhound and racing paintings in this auction, two in oil and two in pastel, are estimated to bring from $25,000 to $40,000. Pater’s portrait in pastel of a bull—head, neck, and chest—is expected to bring between $40,000 and $60,000, putting Pater squarely in a league with the masters of recent centuries.
Pater has been described by many as the heir to the late Sir Alfred Munning’s throne, and a glance at his racing and hunting works are convincing evidence that the comparison is valid. In 2002, at an exhibit of Pater’s work at the Slademore Gallery in London, two oil paintings sold for $75,000 each, described as “a remarkable price for contemporary sporting art.” At the same exhibit, a pastel of three hounds which Greg Ladd at Cross Gate Gallery had estimated to bring $15,000 to $20,000 sold for $35,000, said to be a record for a non-oil work by a living artist at the time.
Just last year, Pater had a one-man show at the National Sporting Library & Museum in Middleburg, Virginia. The exhibition, Andre Pater: In a Sporting Light, was a collection of Pater’s works from around the country that exhibited his mastery of the use of light and texture, and his seemingly effortless accuracy with anatomy and movement—be it equine, foxhound, or human. Pater possesses that rare ability to portray those subtle postures in his living subjects that translate into realism, even when daubed in broad, bold brush strokes.
Born in Poland, Andre Pater graduated Summa Cum Laude in architecture from the Krakow Academy of Fine Arts and came to New York. While working for a time as an architectural designer at a firm in Dallas, he was drawn to the Arabian horse world there. He’d been familiar with the breed from Poland, which has a rich tradition of Arabian breeding, and had drawn and painted Arabian horses for years. Considering his exceptional talent for fine art, those painting excursions must have exerted a powerful influence on the young man’s future. He moved to Kentucky in 1988, Thoroughbred breeding country and a sporting world of racing and foxhunting. Those subjects as well as cattle and wildlife absorbed his creative urges.
Pater’s list of clients is impressive, from ambassadors to sheiks to sporting institutions. In 1999, the Keeneland Racetrack in Lexington commissioned him to create a series of top stakes winning jockeys and owners over the past sixty years. The resulting pastels have been a hit at the track, and numerous life-style magazines have featured Pater and his work.
Two years ago, at the Keeneland Sporting Art Auction, a Pater pastel fetched the highest price of all the works sold. The artist was there to witness a spirited bidding war for his magnificent painting, Red Arrow, a Lakota warrior, circa 1870, wearing a buckskin war-shirt decorated in locks of horsehair and scalps along his arm, draped in a buffalo robe. The hammer fell at $276,000 for Pater’s Red Arrow.
As for the most expensive single item in this year’s auction, a copper with verdigris sculpture by contemporary British artist Nic Fiddian-Green, Still Water III, one of a 2017 edition of three, is estimated to bring a remarkable $200,000 to $250,000. Last year, a similar Fiddian-Green sculpture of a horse’s head, Still Water in bronze, one of an edition of twelve, was estimated to bring $50,000 to $70,000. It sold for $103,500.
The Sporting Art Auction at Keeneland promises to be exciting as well as artistically fulfilling. The works have been on display since the September Yearling Sales, and may now be seen during the October Fall Race Meet from October 5–27, thereafter by appointment until the November Breeding Stock Sales which begin on November 5. From that date, they will remain available for viewing until sold at auction on November 18.
The Sales Catalog of artworks, along with the history of both distinguished institutions, Keeneland and Cross Gate, may be viewed onscreen or purchased. Bids may be made at the auction, by phone through prior arrangement, and online. For questions, call 859-233-3856 or inquire by email.
Posted October 6, 2018