This story was corrected at 11 a.m. Feb. 8, 2013. An explanation follows the story.
Robert Fastov could be considered a high-end hoarder.
That is how Stephanie Kenyon, president of Sloans & Kenyon, the Chevy Chase-based auctioneers and appraisers, affectionately sees him. And, Fastov, a 69-year-old D.C. art collector, would not disagree.
“I live in a virtual art museum-gallery-storage facility of over 1,100 oil paintings and other works of art — over 900 pieces of pewter and antiques,” Fastov said. He also has a substantial art and antiques reference library.
Born in Brooklyn and raised in Rockville Centre, N.Y., Fastov graduated from Harvard University and Stanford Law School. A liberal upbringing and his consequent leanings brought him to D.C. in 1972 to work for the U.S. Department of Commerce and “save the world.” (He acknowledges it didn’t quite turn out that way.)
Fastov credits his mother as the inspiration for selling his collection. He remembers her telling him, “There’s a time in life to acquire, but there comes a time when one must ‘de-thing’ yourself.”
Last fall, realizing it was in fact time to “de-thing,” Fastov approached Sloans & Kenyon about selling his art. His more-than-1,500-lot collection features paintings by August Herman Olson Rolle and Benson Bond Moore, widely regarded as the Washington area’s best early-20th-century Impressionist landscape painters. Works by other American and European painters and some 800 pieces of antique pewter also are among the offerings.
Of the Rolle and Moore work, Kenyon said, “It’s really beautiful art. The paintings of turn-of-the-century landmarks are nostalgic and engaging, especially to Washingtonians.”
“Among the Rolle paintings, the most expensive are two that are estimated at $50,000 to $75,000,” Peter Penczer of Sloans & Kenyon said. “There are some pencil sketches and watercolors by Rolle that are estimated at $200 to $500, which means that the bidding may start as low as $100 on some of those.”
“The highest estimate on a Moore is $30,000 to $50,000. Most of his landscapes are estimated at $4,000 to $6,000. There is a small painting of a sparrow that is less: $1,000 to $2,000,” Penczer said.
Quality and value aside, the quantity became an issue.
“Putting this together was an enormous job,” Kenyon said. “And even in our 40,000-square-foot gallery, finding space to hang the paintings was a challenge.” Both an online and a full hard-copy catalogue of the pieces had to be created.
Fastov bought a large number of Rolle’s works from the artist’s son-in-law in 1972, then continued buying Rolle’s art through the 1970s. He bought about 150 of Moore’s paintings from the painter’s sister-in-law and other sources in 1987. He kept the bulk of his estate purchases of Moore’s and Rolle’s art for 40 years.
While Rolle was “the leading Washington, D.C., area Impressionist landscape painter of the early 20th century, Moore was a close second,” Fastov said. “I’m a nut for Impressionists. … I love Rolle more (than Moore). He was a superb colorist.”
As for Moore, Fastov is impressed most by his “incredibly detailed, almost anthropomorphic rendering of trees.”
Born in rural Minnesota, Rolle (1875-1941) came to D.C. in 1900, beginning formal art training at the Corcoran Gallery of Art five years later. He painted views of the Potomac River Valley, D.C. and adjacent rural areas of Maryland and Virginia in Impressionist style for 35 years.
His work is in The Corcoran, the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Arts Club of Washington and The Historical Society of Washington, D.C.
Moore (1882-1974) was born in D.C., where he lived for 70 years. He, too, studied at the Corcoran, and painted scenes of nature. His style of Impressionist painting changed from orthodox American Impressionism to a style of Impressionism, which was unique to Moore. His work is at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts in Hagerstown.
The two artists, who studied with the same late 19th-century landscape school teachers at the Corcoran, painted portraits of each other and had a 1924 joint print exhibition at Venable’s, a D.C. art gallery.
The collection will be on view Feb. 8 through 15. The auction will take place at 10 a.m. Feb. 16 and 11 a.m. Feb. 17 at Sloans & Kenyon, 7034 Wisconsin Ave., Chevy Chase. Call 301-634-2356 or visit www.sloansandkenyon.com.
Correction: The original version of this story misspelled Robert Fastov’s surname.