Copley Sets World Auction Record For Pleissner & Walker Paintings

PLYMOUTH, MASS. — Copley Fine Art Auctions’ 2013 Sporting Sale, conducted July 30–31, brought $2,250,333, with more than 90 percent of lots sold. A record price was achieved for several makers and birds in session one, as well as numerous artists in session two.

Session one started the sale off strong with a group of contemporary carvings by Mark McNair (b 1950). While most fell within estimate, there were two highlights. The sperm whale carving ($3/5,000) more than doubled its estimate, selling for $8,912, and a rare preening wood duck hen ($3/5,000) attained $6,325.

The first major decoy to cross the block was an exemplary brant by Harry V. Shourds (1861–1920). Estimated at $25/35,000 this bird sold for $57,500 after spirited bidding from both the phones and the floor. Equally as impressive was a swimming black duck that sold within estimate for at $71,875 a few lots later.

An astute Southern collector recognized the importance of the unique Stratford school red breasted merganser pair buying the duo for $54,625.

The biggest surprise of the sale was a George Boyd (1873–1941) goose from the rig of General George S. Patton, moderately estimated at $10/15,000, which brought $48,875.

Two important works by Joseph W. Lincoln (1859–1938), a rare bluebill drake and an old squaw hen, previously in the Dr George Ross Starr, Jr collection, performed admirably bringing $32,200 and $34,500, respectively. Lincoln miniatures were strong, with all sailing well over their $2/3,000 estimate and the top lot being a wood duck that achieved $6,325.

Following its success with an Augustus A. Wilson (1864–1950) preening eider in the winter sale, Copley followed up with a preening mallard by the maker, which nearly reached its $50,000 high estimate, selling for $48,875.

Copley sold an impressive group of six lots by Ira D. Hudson (1873–1949), and found active bidding both on the phones and across the floor. The group was led by the auction’s top lot, a pair of red breasted mergansers falling squarely within its estimate for $207,000, and a pintail pair ($70/80,000), which just cleared its high at $80,500.

Session two opened strong with the group of quail paintings by Gerard Hardenbergh (1855–1915), with the large oil “Bevy of Beauties” shattering the artist’s previous auction record of $15,000, realizing $43,125. Another highlight in this grouping included an oil of a family of quail, which crushed its $5/7,000 estimate, landing at $19,550.

Copley set a new world record for an Ogden M. Pleissner (1905–1983) watercolor with “Quail Shooting.” The work doubled its high estimate of $60,000, bringing $120,750. Two of the artist’s other works, “A Shot at the River Crossing” and “Angling for Salmon,” each split the uprights, coming in within estimate at $48,875.

Despite its Northeast location, Copley has continued to turn up Southern works, setting world records for Ripley and Pleissner watercolors, and now for a William Aiken Walker (1838–1921) portrait. The artist’s “New Orleans Cotton Dock” brought $83,375, easily clearing its $30/50,000 estimate.

Copley fell just shy of setting a new world record with its Robert Abbett (b 1926) oil “A Class Act,” selling the work for $32,220.

An impressive landscape oil by William Keith (1838–1911) reached above its $30/50,000 estimate bringing $60,375.

Continuing its strong performance with William Koelpin (1938–1996) bronzes, Copley sold “Opening Day” above estimate for $17,250.

Works by Colin Burns (b 1944), Roland Clark (1874–1957), Arthur Burdett Frost (1851–1928), and Edmund Osthaus (1858–1928), all showed solid results, indicating continued strength in the American and sporting art market.

All prices reported include the buyer’s premium. For more information, 617-536-0030 or www.copleyart.com.

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