FAIRFIELD, MAINE: It was a hot time with heated bidding experienced throughout each of the three sessions at Julia’s Winter antiques, fine art and Asian auction, conducted over three days, January 30 through February 1. The auction house posted impressive results from the well-attended auction with a gross total of more than $4 million recorded and with numerous surprises along the way.
Day one of the auction featured more than 400 paintings and works of art, day two consisted of more than 600 lots of Americana and general antiques, and the third day of the sale was climatic with more than 800 lots crossing the auction block.
Highlighting the paintings session on opening day was the Cape Ann art collection of John Gale. Born in Vermont, Gale’s collection included a selection of Aldro Hibbard winter scenes depicting his home state that were actively bid, as well as other works by William Lester Stevens, Emile Gruppe and Frederick Mulhaupt.
“Initially nostalgic, a curious mind and a patient eye may have propelled the collection,” wrote auctioneer James Julia in the catalog, “but it grew to one of great confidence and dimension. Finally Mr Gale’s home became a museum dedicated to his favored scenes and styles. Bathed in the light of his Tiffany lamps, the walls shimmered with Impressionistic views of Cape Ann — caught in time, yet timeless.”
The auction began with a Donald Allen Moser oil on canvas depicting a traditional Vermont farmstead that would set the pace for the day, Estimated at $3/4,000, the handsome work attracted a great deal of interest, finishing above estimate at $6,037, as did the next lot, a T.M. Nichols oil titled “Red Barn in Autumn,” estimated at $3/5,000.
The top lot of the session came from the stylish works by Mulhaupt as Gale’s “Gloucester Gill Netters” crossed the auction block, selling between the estimate at $57,500. The next several lots by Mulhaupt were all from Gale’s collection, with a wonderful Impressionist view of ships docked inner harbor titled “The Ice Breaker’s Path” selling at $37,375, an oil titled “At The Guinea Wharf” depicted men working nets in port bringing $34,500, and another view of men working dockside, “Harbor Life,” selling at $23,000.
A sharp-looking William Lester Stevens oil titled “Mill Dam” depicted a winding stream traversing a winter landscape with a mill. In a bold Impressionist style, the painting sold well above estimate, realizing $31,500.
Cape Ann harbor scenes by Hibbard saw lots of action, with “Motif #1 In Winter,” depicting working boats at dock during winter, soaring past the $4/6,000 estimate to bring $31,050. It was followed by Hibbard’s “Winter Harbor Scene with City Views Beyond” that finished at $13,225. A nice snow-covered mountainous landscape titled “West River Valley, Vt.,” led the group of Gale’s Hibbards, selling at $33,925, and “Village with Bridge in Winter” by the artist realized $25,300.
A John Frederick Carlson winter river scene with homes, “Silvery Waters,” attracted attention from numerous collectors, more than doubling estimate on its way to a final selling price of $21,850. “Smith Cove, Rocky Neck, Gloucester,” a nice harbor scene by Gruppe, was another painting to do well, fetching $13,800.
Other paintings sold included “Parisian Street Scene with Flower Vendor” by French artist Victor Gabriel Gilbert that tripled estimate as it realized of $34,500. A nondescript lot containing two Old Masters drawings and estimated at $500–$1,000 took off, with a final bid of $31,500.
“Day two showed strong results with an upswing in prices paid for early American and Victorian furniture and accessories,” according to the gallery. Leading the way among the furniture was a Aesthetic Movement Herter Brothers eight-piece inlaid walnut parlor suite consisting of a triple back settee, a pair of gentleman’s chairs, three smaller lady’s chairs and a pair of side chairs. In good original condition the set finished well above the $15/20,000 estimate, selling at $34,500.
A display cabinet with carved Japanesque floral panels attributed to Herter Brothers was also from the Aesthetic Movement, and sold for $13,800, while a Rocco Revival carved walnut breakfront bookcase realized $6,900 and a Renaissance Revival marquetry center table brought $6,210. Also sold was a standard model Wooton desk in excellent original condition that realized $8,625.
Americana included a paint decorated child’s blanket box with a homestead scene depicted on the front. A center chimney home surrounded by a flower garden, fruit-laden apple trees, a prancing dog and running boy were depicted on the front of the green painted chest. Bidding was spirited, with it going out at $8,625. A small apothecary chest in a very bold tiger maple beat the estimate, bringing a bold $7,130.
A selection of weathervanes included a rare “Nancy Hanks with pneumatic tire sulky” weathervane by Fiske that sold above estimate at $23,000. A steer vane measuring almost 2 feet tall and more than 40 inches long was attributed to Cushing & White and sold for $19,550, while a horse and rider vane went out at $13,225.
A rare pair of red leather fire buckets with painted gilt eagle decoration from the Mechanic Fire Society, Portsmouth, N.H., circa 1839, did well at $36,800.
An Antonio Jacobsen oil, “Portrait of the Pilot Boat Fannie,” attracted a great deal of attention. Consigned from a Maryland collection, the painting depicted the vessel under full sail flying the American flag and with numerous men on the sloop’s deck. Estimated at $15/20,000, the painting left the block after intense bidding at $52,900.
Other items sold included a hinged gold box decorated with agate panels and a cameo of an African American woman with inset ruby earring and diamond necklace. Calling the box “one of the most magnificent stone and gold boxes we have encountered,” Julia hammered the lot down at $31,500, more than ten times the presale estimate.
A small collection of Native American items crossed the auction block, with a lot consisting of more than 300 period photographs of Indians by Harmon Marble selling between estimates at $9,200. Two first edition volumes of Lewis and Clark Expedition published by Bradford and Inskeep and Abraham H. Inskeep in 1814 were inscribed by the owner and dated 1820. The books sold between estimates at $10,350.
Asian materials caused quite a stir at the gallery on the third day of the auction as lot after lot exceeded expectations. Among the opening lots, a small group of carved jade items estimated at $500/700 sold at $2,875.
The top lot of the auction came from the Asian offerings as a rare Korean longevity screen sold in excess of half-a-million dollars. It was clear to auctioneer Jim Julia as he compiled the catalog that the Korean ten-panel folding screen consigned by a Maryland family was important; it just was not clear how important the Yi dynasty painted screen was. It quickly became apparent, however, as the rare screen decorated with paintings of the gardens of longevity crossed the auction block — hammering down after a flurry of telephone and Internet bidding — ultimately selling at more than 120 times the high estimate.
The Eighteenth/Nineteenth Century screen, thought to be made of silk and decorated with ink and mineral pigments, depicted various animals, including four mythical tortoise, a flock of ten deer and eight cranes around a Sung period-inspired landscape of mountains, rivers and waterfalls. Measuring 82 inches high by 165 inches wide, the screen was centrally decorated with a pair of grand pine trees with coral trunks and jade green-colored leaves. The rare screen had descended in the family of the consignor, gifted many years ago to the family by a member of the Diplomatic Corps in Korea. The screen, estimated at $3/5,000, climbed to $603,500 and established the second highest price ever paid for an Asian items at Julia’s.
Another lot to attract serious attention was an Eighteenth Century Shakudo incense burner with carved and gilt decorated panels and a reticulated cover mounted with a foo dog finial. Estimated at $5/7,000, the rare incense burner from China sold at $35,650.
A Chinese aloeswood brush pot with carved decoration of scholars amid trees and mountains did well at $11,500, while an aloeswood Ruyi scepter, Twentieth Century, China, was decorated with deeply carved monkeys and sold at $12,650. Another carved wooden scepter, also Twentieth Century, China, was decorated with the eight immortals and it sold at $17,250.
A dragon robe with blue/black collar and an overall yellow ground with dragon decoration, Nineteenth Century, China, realized $12,650.
Other Chinese items included a white porcelain Eighteenth Century vase painted in Tou Tsai style depicting scholars. It sold for $26,400, while a set of 12 Twentieth Century 12-month cups with K’ang Hi marks brought $23,000.
A framed hand scroll after Lu Zhi, “Yuan Yan Ji Tu Juan,” did well, tripling the estimate to bring $23,000, while a hanging scroll signed Hongshou went out at $16,100.
All prices include the buyer’s premium. For additional information, 207-453-7125 or www.jamesdjulia.com.