Silver ‘Masterpiece,’ Case Pieces Do Well At Northeast Auctions

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. — What the underbidder in the gallery described as “a masterpiece” brought $159,300 at Northeast Auctions’ Portsmouth weekend sale March 9–10. The object of admiration was the Livingston family silver salver made around 1740 by Huguenot silversmith George Ridout, who gave it an elegant unembellished center with a molded shell and scroll border. Ridout had worked in London and arrived in New York in 1745. The salver was engraved “The Gift of Peter & Sarah Van Brugh to Sarah Livingston,” who was their granddaughter. Van Brugh’s family was among the first Dutch settlers in New York. The same phone bidder paid $30,680 for a Livingston family silver punch ladle and a pair of salt spoons made around 1790–1810 by Isaac Hutton of Albany.

A Seventeenth Century Boston silver porringer by John Coney was marked on the handle with the date 1670 and the initials KH and sold to Jonathan Trace, underbidder on the salver, for $9,676.

New England case furniture with strong provenance and impressive literature proved attractive to the full house of active bidders who vied with the phones and the Internet for the choice pieces offered. A Salem Chippendale mahogany reverse serpentine chest of drawers with blocked end drawers made by John Chipman went on the phone for $89,680. The four-drawer chest traveled to Italy with former owners and was returned to the United States by the Sack family. It came most recently from a Boston estate and sold on the phone.

The same estate was the source of a dandy Philadelphia Queen Anne mahogany dish top, tilt top candlestand with a birdcage support that auctioneer Ron Bourgeault described as the “best candlestand we’ve ever had.” It, too, included Israel Sack in its provenance, and realized $10,030.

When cabinetmaker Robert Harrold arrived in Portsmouth from London in about 1765, he brought with him some of the latest styles that were emulated by other Portsmouth artisans. His New Hampshire Chippendale cherry armchair made with a pierced splat and square molded legs sold on the phone for $5,900. As he hammered it down, Bourgeault reported that Strawbery Banke had recently acquired its near mate. From the same estate, a Massachusetts Federal mahogany serpentine front sideboard with inlay, also with Sack provenance, went to a phone bidder as well for $11,800.

A New England mahogany chest of three drawers with shell carving to the blockfront and set on nicely shaped bracket feet sold for $46,020 against the estimated $12/18,000. A Connecticut River Valley Queen Anne cherry tea table, with a fancifully scrolled top on delicate cabriole legs on dainty platform pad feet, sold in the gallery for $29,500. The catalog notes indicated that the piece was made in Northampton or Hatfield, Mass.

A Pennsylvania Chippendale mahogany tea table with a birdcage defied its estimates and sold on the phone for $7,965.

While a North Shore Massachusetts Queen Anne mahogany bonnet top highboy carved with shells and plinths went to a phone buyer for $24,780, a Newport Queen Anne figured maple highboy from the Goddard Townsend makers went to a left bid for $14,160

From the collection of Mr and Mrs Joseph K. Ott, a set of four Boston or Newport Queen Anne walnut side chairs with particularly extensive literature brought $16,520. A China Trade relief carved eagle plaque that was painted and gilded depicted the eagle perched on a shield with stars and stripes, an olive branch and arrows in an oval surround carved with berries and Chinese symbols of good fortune. It realized $9,440.

A Newport Island Queen Anne mahogany tilt top tea table realized $5,605, five times the low estimate, and a pair of Rhode Island Federal mahogany card tables with rectangular tops with rounded inset corners sold for $7,080.

A 38-inch late Nineteenth or early Twentieth Century eagle with a flag plaque from another collection, attributed to Pennsylvania carver George Stapf who worked around Lancaster and Harrisburg, was carved, painted and gilded and sold on the phone for $9,440.

Other case pieces of interest included a Massachusetts Chippendale mahogany serpentine front chest with four graduated drawers and cabriole legs with ball and claw feet that attracted $8,260.

Material deaccessioned by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, included a Salem Federal mahogany bowfront chest of drawers by Samuel McIntire or a follower with porringer corners above four drawers, with swelled acanthus carved and turned feet that sold for $8,260. The four-drawer chest was part of the Maxim Karolik collection.

Other MFA deaccessions were a Massachusetts Chippendale flame birch serpentine front slant lid desk with a thumb molded lid that opened at $2,500 and sold on the phone for $7,965. There was also a Massachusetts Pilgrim Century oak and maple blanket chest with a single drawer and applied molding that sold for $6,785 and a New England Chippendale tiger maple slant lid desk that drew $2,950 against the estimated $800–$1,200.

A large folk art horse pull toy in black paint with a horse hair mane and tail and a harness bell was 31½ inches, including the platform with wheels. Bourgeault suggested it may have been a Continental piece, and it sold for $3,658.

Bidding on a New England painted candlestand with a circular top and exuberantly scrolled legs opened at $500 and was pushed by eager buyers to $1,888.

A selection of material descended in the family of Rhode Island preservationist Norman M. Isham included an Aaron Willard shelf clock with a kidney-shaped dial that brought $8,260. There was also a Sheraton mahogany bedstead from the same collection that went for $708. Several other Isham lots did not sell.

Six English Chippendale mahogany side chairs with a carved foliate crest above a carved and pierced vasiform splat sold for $10,629. The set sold previously at Northeast in October 2009. 

Edmund Tarbell’s 1818 portrait of Wilhelmine Kirby, granddaughter of Thomas E. Kirby, one of the founders of the American Art Association, was the highlight of the artwork across the block. It realized $73,750.

A painted wax, leather wire, cloth and string figure of a saddled horse with a pack by Western artist Charles Marion Russell was hotly contested. Bidding opened at $2,750 and advanced until the pieces sold on the phone for $35,400. The model was presented by the artist to his friend and collaborator, Charles J. Steedman, author of Bucking the Sagebrush, or The Oregon Trail in the Seventies, the 1904 volume that Russell illustrated.

“View towards Castleton, Vermont,” an 1849 oil on canvas landscape by Scotland-born artist William Hart sold for $22,420, while Hart’s “Pastoral Landscape with Farmhouse, Sheep and Cows,” painted in 1866, sold for $11,800.

Hart’s brother, James McDougal Hart, was also an artist. His 1873 Adirondacks view “Twilight with Deer at Lake’s Edge” brought $12,980.

Pennsylvania artist Thomas Doughty’s 1835 “Landscape with Footbridge and Figures Fishing” elicited $18,800 from a phone bidder, and “Clipper Ship with Tugboat Outward Bound” by Massachusetts artist Marshall Johnson Jr brought $17,700 in the gallery.

“Out in the Fields,” an 1863 landscape by the New Hampshire-born artist Aaron Draper Shattuck, drew $10,620.

A Twentieth Century French oil on canvas beach scene “Beau Temps, Le Matin à Trouville” by André Hambourg sold for $11,800, while Hambourg’s “Beau Temps à Deauville” went for $9,440.

A French gouache on paper by Eugène Galien-Laloue, “Les Grands Boulevards,” elicited $10,030.

Continental material included a late Nineteenth Century French 21½-inch pair of Egyptian Revival cloisonné and painted gilt-metal lamps by Ferdinand Barbedienne that sold for $12,980.

A Meissen porcelain figure of the comedia del arte character Pantalone, circa 1744, was modeled by Johan Joachim Kaendler and Peter Reinicke. Estimated at $3/$5,000, it elicited $11,564. A Bow porcelain centerpiece, circa 1752–55, with four seagull nests holding eggs and surrounded by shells, snails and coral, with a central shell cup above six removable examples was estimated at $3/5,000 and realized $7,375.

Two Chinese red silk robes embroidered with flowers and ocean waves trumped their $300/$500 estimate to sell for $7,080.

All prices reported include the buyer’s premium.

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