Swann is auctioning off a treasure trove of original golf illustrations
Swann, a New York City auction house founded in 1941, owns a prized golf art worth clubhouse on the block. The Richard McDonough Collection, comprising over 60 illustrations, printed graphics and posters is available for auction On January 28, the same day, the first round of the Farmers Insurance Open begins.
McDonough, a retired corporate lawyer based in Savannah, Georgia, who is the author of the book Great golf collections from around the world, first caught the collection bug in the early 1980s. Initially he focused on antique hickory golf clubs before discovering a passion for the original art of golf in the 1990s which will lead him in a frenzy of transcontinental acquisitions of three decades.
“I found it particularly gratifying to find an illustration that I could relate to the original publication. For example, the Leslie Thrasher piece available at auction was her first cover sold on the Saturday Evening Post, which I realized, but the seller didn’t, ”McDonough says.
“Dick’s collection reflects both a focused theme and then has great breadth within that theme. It has both lush and brooding landscapes from the turn of the century to the covers of bright, colorful and humorous magazines and cartoons of the past twenty years, ”says Christine von der Linn, director of illustration art at Swann.
While the items and instants associated with in-game legends command the best price, visual representations of the sport are the next group on the golf collectibles rankings.
“[The Market] seems to be strong on gear and memorabilia followed by graphics so hopefully new and art-savvy collectors and investors like Dick will find pleasure in this visual side that celebrates beauty and history of the game, ”said von der Linn.
A work that should earn a five-figure sum is In the field, a romantic charcoal and watercolor illustration by Howard Chandler Christy executed in 1902.
“When I was shown this job, my heart sank with nervous excitement to be in his presence,” McDonough says.
“I admire the style and subtlety of the couple courting on the golf course. He only illustrated a few golf scenes. The other from this same story has a more pronounced golf pattern and has been reproduced for commercial sale, but is part of a permanent collection and therefore would never be available.
Christy, is famous for her depictions of attractive, young and elegant American women at the turn of the 19e century and this romantic interlude is a good example.
“Christy is still one of America’s most sought-after artists. His work and style is so iconic and almost everyone has seen one or more of his paintings, illustrations, war posters, murals or portraits of famous people. It practically defined the spirit and style of America in the first quarter of the century, ”says von der Linn.
Another standout image is a mid-century artwork by Bill Randall in which a visibly angry golfer carrying both his and his wife’s golf bag walks towards the parking lot. Meanwhile, his beaming wife clearly wants to rehash the highlights of her ride as she flaunts the scoreboard. While their round post jokes can be open to interpretation, the expressions give us the gist of the story.
“The wife is obviously bragging about his score. The poor husband is appalled and he even broke his club during the round of golf,” McDonough says.
“A great illustrator has the ability to convey many feelings at once,” he adds.
In addition to the McDonough collection of golf illustrations which is the star attraction of the live auction, the sale also includes sections devoted to original children’s book art, performing arts and fashion, and magazine illustrations.