Barney Lipscomb, the Leonhardt Chair of Texas Botany at the BRIT (Botanical Research Institute Texas), renowned for his award-winning and unusual approach to bringing the science of botanical taxomony to the non-scientist 'performed' his lecture Art and Science: A Botanist's Eye: Redouté and the Art of Floral Illustration, to a full and enthusiastic house at Arader Galleries, at 29 E. 72nd Street, NYC evening. He presented a very lively look at the history and evolution of art and botanical science from the first century AD through the life of Pierre-Joseph Redouté, one of the greatest botanical illustrators and flower painters of all time, complete with slide-show and musical score, against the spectacular back drop of some of Redoute's original watercolours on vellum from his magnum opus "Les Liliacees", and John James Audubon's hand-coloured aquatints from his magnificent double-elephant folio "The Birds of America" (London, 1827-1838), all offered for public auction the following day.
Lipscomb's inspirational lecture was followed by a sumptuous dinner generously hosted by Mr. Arader at the famous Nickerbocker Club on 62nd Street, at which he honoured Professor Lipscomb for his pioneering efforts which bring the art of natural history into the classrooms of America: a cause very close to Mr. Arader's own heart, who has just donated an extraordinarily fine and comprehensive collection of works of art that reflect the history of the discovery of the natural world, and how that knowledge was brought from the new to the old world, to the University of South Carolina students studying subjects from art history to environmental science, a donation valued at $30,000,000.
Saturday's auction of hand colored aquatints from John James Audubon's magnificent double-elephant folio "The Birds of America", the single most important work on North American ornithology; hand-colored lithographs from his Imperial folio "The Viviparous Quadrupeds", the first great all-American color-plate book; and exquisitely beautiful original watercolors on vellum from Pierre-Joseph Redoute's magnum opus "Les Liliacees", conducted by Guernsey’s at Arader Galleries at 72nd Street, in New York, this last Saturday, was a triumph, for Arader Galleries and for the universities that Mr. Arader supports through his philanthropic educational programs , as 20% of the hammer price of each lot sold will be donated to one of these programs, or a charity of the purchaser's choice.
More than one third of the plates from the original publications of "Birds of America" and "The Viviparous Quadrupeds" went under the hammer and were more than 85% sold by lot. Not surprisingly some exceptionally high prices were achieved for some iconic images: $100,000 for plate number, and lot number, one "The Male Turkey"; $110,000 for the "Snowy Owl"; and $90,000 for the Long-Billed Curlew. The normally tranquil Arader Gallery at 72nd Street, was buzzing with more than 125 potential private and institutional bidders jostling for standing room only, as many of the other 230 lots sold for well over their high estimates. Arader Galleries retains a comprehensive gallery of works of art by both Audubon and Redoute, and we welcome all visitors at our galleries in New York, Philadelphia, Houston and San Francisco, or to our website www.aradernyc.com.
At this point cash gifts to Arader Galleries' Client's charities appear to be headed well over $400,000 as a result of giving programs established by this auction. The idea of all auctions generating a minimum of a 10% of hammer donation to the buyer's charity makes sense and is clearly being embraced by collectors. The art museums, libraries and 3600 four year colleges in the United States that create interest in fine art and the decorative arts should be rewarded for creating and maintaining the interest in collecting that is such a major fabric in American life today.