Horst art collection fetches $4.3 million

"Winter Sunlight," a snow scene by Edward Willis Redfield, attracted the top price for an individual work, at $710,500 at the Horst auction. Another work, "Marshes of Long Point," went for $662,500.
"Winter Sunlight," a snow scene by Edward Willis Redfield, attracted the top price for an individual work, at $710,500 at the Horst auction. Another work, "Marshes of Long Point," went for $662,500.
Posted: April 02, 2014

PHILADELPHIA The art collection of Reading hosiery magnate George D. Horst, squirreled away for decades in a building on the family's Berks County compound, was sold by Freeman's auction house Sunday for $4.3 million.

The top three works from the Horst sale were sold to private collectors across the United States, according to Freeman's. Auction records were achieved for 18 artists. The names of purchasers were not disclosed.

Winter Sunlight, a snow scene by Edward Willis Redfield, attracted the top price for an individual work. It went for $710,500. Marshes of Long Point, a landscape by Frank Weston Benson, went for $662,500. Glen Cuttalossa, a woodsy scene by Daniel Garber, sold for $398,500.

The entire collection of 63 works was estimated to sell for around $1.3 million before the auction.

While the top prices were not records, they did meet or greatly exceed pre-auction estimates.

The sale of the Horst collection garnered considerable pre-auction publicity thanks to the unusual circumstances surrounding the art.

Horst made his fortune as a manufacturer, then turned his attention to art. He was a principal donor and supporter of the Reading Public Museum, giving many works to its collection.

But in the 1920s, he was infuriated when the museum decided to build its new building in a then-remote part of the city, disregarding his arguments for a central location. He demanded the return of his money and his art. The museum complied by returning all works he had loaned it, but keeping his gifts.

Horst then constructed an exhibition building in the woods near his home, installing his art and using the venue largely for entertaining. When he died in 1934, the paintings remained in their rural warren.

At least some curators and art professionals were familiar with the collection, but its existence passed out of general public memory until Horst's descendants decided to sell the Berks County property where the art building has stood for more than 80 years.


ssalisbury@phillynews.com

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@SPSalisbury

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