People pass by a Sotheby's auction house logo in the Russian History Museum in Moscow, 23 May 2007. (AFP/Maxim Marmur)
Sotheby's revealed on Friday that Hopper's painting will be offered at its upcoming American Art sale. The announcement coincided with the date scholars believe to be the playwright's birthday.
"Shakespeare at Dusk" depicts a statue of the Bard made by John Quincy Adam Ward in New York's Central Park at twilight. The 1935 oil painting is part of a series of New York cityscapes, which also comprises the iconic "Nighthawks".
In celebration of William Shakespeare’s birthday, we are pleased to announce that Edward Hopper’s ‘Shakespeare at Dusk’ will highlight our American Art Auction on 21 May in #NYC. Painted in 1935, the work depicts the famous #Shakespeare statue located at the southern end of the Mall in #CentralPark and belongs to Hopper’s celebrated series of New York cityscapes— a subject matter the artist explored early in his career. A lifelong lover of poetry and prose, ‘Shakespeare at Dusk’ is among the only major works in Hopper’s career that overtly references the profound influence of literature on his emotional response to specific times of day, particularly the evening. Visit the statue at twilight in Central Park to see the same tranquil skyline depicted in the present work, and make plans to view the painting in our public exhibitions beginning 17 May in #NYC #SothebysAmerican #WilliamShakespeare #Shakespeare #SothebysBreakingGround #OTD
It is estimated to sell for between $5 and $7 million -- a far cry from the artist's auction record of $91.9 million set last November at Christie's for "Chop Suey".
Head of Sotheby's American Art department Kayla Carlsen told the Art Newspaper that a "recalibration of Hopper's market" occurred last year -- making it very likely that "Shakespeare at Dusk" will fetch its pre-sale estimate.
"Shakespeare at Dusk" testifies to Hopper's interest in literature and poetry, which is alluded to in most of his paintings. Art historian Gail Levin states that the title is a reference to Shakespeare's famous "Sonnet 73," which describes an autumnal twilight:
"That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see'st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death's second self, that seals up all in rest."
Hopper's "Shakespeare at Dusk" will be offered on May 21 during Sotheby's American Art sale in New York. Other highlights of the auction include Frederic Edwin Church's "Ruins at Baalbek", estimated between $1.0 million and $1.5 million and Milton Avery's "Two Figures on Beach", estimated between $1.2 million and $1.8 million.