Live Auction

A Curatorial View: The Collection of Bernice Rose

Thu, Nov 16, 2023 10:00AM EST
  • Property from the Collection of Bernice Rose
Lot 842

Willem de Kooning (1904-1997): Study for Clam Diggers

Estimate: $25,000 - $35,000
Sold for
Sold Price excludes BP

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$200 $50
$500 $100
$3,000 $250
$5,000 $500
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$30,000 $2,500
$100,000 $5,000

Charcoal, pencil and pastel on paper, circa 1960-1965, signed 'de Kooning' lower right, with label from Allan Stone Galleries, NY.

11 x 8 1/2 in. (sheet), 18 x 16 1/4 in. (frame). 


Note: "When I go down to the water's edge on my daily bicycle ride, I see the clam diggers bending over, up to their ankles in the surf, their shadows quite unreal, as if floating. This is what gave me the idea." --Willem de Kooning

The clam digger motif was one of Willem de Kooning's most enduring subjects, explored across mediums, from his masterful painting on paper Clam Diggers (1963, Private Collection, New York) to his late bronze sculptures, many of which are held in museum collections. Within this pictorial lineage, de Kooning's signature motif emerges in Study for Clam Diggers as a dynamic flurry of charcoal ribbons--a testament to the very tension between abstraction and figuration that defined his art. In 1963, de Kooning moved from New York City to Springs on Long Island, shifting his focus on subject matter and style away from the urban towards the pastoral and reflective, as he settled into his new life away from the intensity of the New York art world. Dating from a pivotal moment in the artist's career, Study for Clam Diggers is an intimate masterwork--a bridge between his assertive Abstract Expressionist works of the late 1950s and the energetic and vibrant figuration of his Women paintings in the 1960s. 


Mat and light- staining. Small spots of staining from old tape at places on the reverse of the sheet edges showing through. Otherwise in good condition.

Notwithstanding this report or any discussion concerning condition of a lot, all lots are offered and sold "as is" in accordance with our conditions of sale.

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Private collection (acquired from Allan Stone Galleries, 1966); Sold Sotheby's New York, September 29, 2015, Lot 18; Collection of Bernice Rose.