Winold Reiss



2015-06-26 10:35:39

Winold Reiss was a notable German-American portrait artist.


Winold Reiss was born on 16th September, 1886 in Black Forest, Germany. His father was a landscape painter from whom he acquired his basic art education. Winold fell in love with Henrietta Luethy whom he married in 1912.

In 1913, just before WW1, the family, along with his only son, Tjark Reiss moved to the US. He was very inspired by American History and the American Indian. To establish himself in New York, he started working as an art teacher, portrait and landscape painter, and muralist. He also worked as an interior designer and decorated several public buildings and restaurants.

This allowed him to earn and save money and travel to the Indian reservations. In 1919, Great Northern Railway commissioned Reiss to produce paintings of the Blackfeet Association. Although he lived in New York, he returned to the Blackfeet reservation in Montana most summers.

His love with the Indians continued for nearly 30 years. The Blackfeet named him Beaver Child or Ksistakpoka because of the intensity with which he painted. Reiss was the assistant professor at the New York College of Fine Arts since 1933. He died on 29th August, 1953 in New York City.

Guide for Collectors

Winold Reiss's works are highly regarded even today and his popularity continues mainly because of the railroad calendars and souvenirs that have been printed. For collectors, just a small tip, his technique was to quickly paint on a large sheet of board with pastel and tempera and which dried quickly, so that he was able to quickly complete his portraits.

Please also note that Reiss’s style was predominantly modernism, and his paintings were fine, bold, colorful, and full of graphic design that conveyed a sense of beauty and honor. His works can be seen at the Albany Institute of History & Art, Woodstock Artists Association, Buffalo Bill Historical Center, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Whitney Gallery of Western Art and many others.

Most Expensive Works

There have been plenty of Winold Reiss's paintings that have been auctioned off in the last 25 years. However, it was "The drummers" which was auctioned at The Coeur d`Alene Art Auction in Hayden on 30th July, 2005 for a price of $280,000 USD against an estimate between $60,000 and $90,000 that attracted attention.

Another painting "Many White Horses and Eagle Calf" was auctioned at The Coeur dAlene Art Auction in Hayden on 29th July, 2000 for $170,000 (the estimated price was $60,000 and $90,000). "Buffalo men" was also auctioned at The Coeur dAlene Art Auction in Hayden on 30th July, 2005 for $65,000.

Another oil painting titled "Blackfeet elder" was auctioned at The Coeur d`Alene Art Auction in Hayden on 30th July, 2005 for $45,000. All the prices stated are Hammer Prices and do not include the Buyer’s Premium.

Most Famous Works

Reiss received his first contract from the Great Northern Railway to paint members of the Blackfeet Confederacy. The Great Northern Railway published over eighty of Winold Reiss’s portraits. His works are popular even today not because of Great Northern Railways’ illustrations, but also because he captured a very recognizable and uniquely American theme.

His mural for the rotunda of the Cincinnati Museum Center in 1933 was one of his outstanding commissions. He also did many works depicting Harlem. In 1939, he completed, what was then, the world's largest mural for the New York World's Fair.

"George Bullchild,” another Winold Reiss oil painting that was initially auctioned at Christie's New York on 1st October 1998 for $19,550 (inclusive of buyer premium) against an estimate of between $3,000 and $5,000. The same painting was later auctioned at The Coeur d‘Alene Art Auction in Hayden on 31st July, 1999 for $32,500 (hammer price). An increase of nearly 90% within 10 months.

Another popular painting "Ksevavakase Spider" was auctioned at C.M. Russell Art Auction Great Falls on 19th March, 2004 for a price of $37,500 (asking estimate was between $4,000 and $5,000).

There haven’t been much of Reiss's works that have been auctioned during 2011, except for a "Grand Canyon mural sketch" that was auctioned of at Bonhams & Butterfields S.F. & L.A., on 9th August, 2011 for $6,710.

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