Alexander Calder Works Lead Grogan Auction

On December 2, Grogan & Company Fine Art Auctioneers and Appraisers conducted its annual December auction to a standing-room-only crowd. The more than 500 lots of fine art, furniture, decorative works of art, silver, jewelry and Oriental rugs from various estates and collections achieved more than $800,000.

The sale began with a selection of fine art, including four works by Alexander Calder that brought the highest prices of the day and sold over the phone to the same bidder. “Red, Blue and Yellow Man” and “Skeleton Drinking Wine,” two gouaches created in 1973 by Calder, were gifts to his neighbors, William and Virginia Chess of Connecticut. The “Man,” inscribed “To Virginia,” sold for 36,580, while the “Skeleton,” inscribed “to Wm Chess,” sold for $35,400.

A Calder hand hammered silver initial brooch brought $11,800, while a heart-shaped brooch realized $10,030. The same collection also included a molded copper weathervane in the form of a grasshopper made by Cushing and White of Waltham, Mass., in the late Nineteenth Century. The 40-inch three-dimensional grasshopper, which was acquired by Virginia Chess in the 1930s and sold for $6,195 to an expert on Cushing and White weathervanes.

Other highlights included Russian artist Jaroslav Vesin’s “Winter Trail,” an oil on canvas that was bought by a European collector over the phone for $16,520 against a $5/10,000 presale estimate. A Seventeenth Century portrait of Venus by Dutch Renaissance painter Gortzius Geldorp sold to a local collector over the phone for $9,400. Phone bidders continued to enjoy success when French artist Edouard Cortes’ oil on canvas of the Boulevard de la Madeliene, sold to a bidder in the United Kingdom for $14,160, while “Still Life of Sweet Peas Zinnias and Marigolds” by American pastelist Laura Coombs Hills sold to a New York collector for $8,850. A local collector made a discovery at a small auction house in Great Britain when he acquired what was listed as an unidentified Modernist gouache from the estate of a lady in Middlesex, London. The 12-by-9-inch geometric composition turned out to be the work of French artist Auguste Herbin. Created in 1951, the lot sold for $8,260.

A Nineteenth Century American School view of Daniel Webster’s homestead in Marshfield, Mass., before it burned to the ground on February 14, 1878, generated a bevy of inquiries. The 22-by-27-inch oil on canvas sold to a gentleman in the room for $3,835.

 “In this auction, we witnessed an increase in participation from private clients acquiring decorative property for their homes,” stated Michael Grogan, the firm’s president and chief auctioneer. “It appears the auction market has withstood the downturn of the economy and continues to be the preferred place for buyers and sellers to acquire as well as liquidate their fine art and antiques.”

Furniture highlights included an Aesthetic Movement carved walnut marquetry inlaid bedroom suite attributed to Herter Brothers, which included a bed, two chairs, a side table, and a bureau with mirror. The elaborately carved and inlaid suite sold to a private New York collector over the phone for $22,420. An Arts and Crafts Gustav Stickley tall chest of drawers designed by Harvey Ellis brought $6,490. A pair of Nineteenth Century Tiffany Studios gilt bronze picture frames soared beyond their $800–$1,200 estimate to sell for $9,375.

An example of early American advertising, a None Such tin frame lantern with pumpkin pie, mincemeat and condensed soup and an “Our Flag is First, Our Goods the Best” motto sold within estimate for $2,655. A small wool and cotton hooked rug depicting a dog sled, handmade by Grenfell Labrador Industries in the early Twentieth Century, exceeded its low estimate of $1,000 to sell for $2,360.

Highlights of the jewelry and silver offerings included a twin old mine cut diamond ring in a platinum setting with a total approximate diamond weight of 3 carats. It far exceeded expectations when two bidders in the room aggressively competed, driving the price to $8,260, finally hammering down to a gentleman who bought it as a surprise for a lucky woman, his mother. Seven US gold coins, with face value totaling $102, sold to a coin dealer for an impressive $11,210, while a circa 1879 Kennard & Jenks mixed metal “Japanesque” bowl, hammered down for $3,835.

The auction concluded with a selection of more than 50 Oriental rugs, textiles and carpets from various estates and collections.

Prices reported include the buyer’s premium. For information, www.groganco.com or 781-461-9500.

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