Cassatt Letter & Fine Paintings At Marion Antique Auctions

MARION, MASS. — Fresh merchandise from within a 50-75 mile radius of Marion Antique Auctions is the hallmark of that company’s auctions, and the July 27 sale was no exception.

Paintings came from area collections and estates, and the highlight was an oil on canvas by American Impressionist Theodore H. Robinson of hollyhocks along a fence with a barn in the background, which sold for $23,575. The painting came from the collection of a Duxbury resident who was a New York appraiser and dealer in the middle of the century.

Western artist Henry Herman Cross’s unframed 30-by-48¼-inch oil on canvas depicting a courtroom scene peopled by costumed monkeys was next when it fetched $21,850. His landscape with windmills and grazing cattle realized $1,495.

“Nonquitt Landscape,” an oil on canvas by Fairhaven artist Robert Swain Gifford depicting a hunter with dogs in an autumn landscape, sold for $11,500. The painting came from a Fairhaven village collection and went to a local summer resident.

An unframed White Mountains scene of cows in a stream and horses and riders on a trail by Boston and White Mountain School artist Samuel Lancaster Gerry had some condition issues, yet it sold for $9,085. Gerry’s framed White Mountains landscape went for $6,095. Both pictures were found filthy under piles of junk in a Wareham carriage house.

A signed pastel by Laura Coombs Hills of a garland of pink roses retained the original Doll and Richards label and the original carved gilt frame, selling for $8,050.

The 1871 ship’s portrait of the American sailing ship Robert L. Lane of New York was painted in Antwerp by John Loos and sold for $6,275.

Cecil Clark Davis was born in Chicago and arrived in Marion when she married war correspondent Richard Harding Davis. Her portrait of a red-headed woman was signed and dated 1922 and was identified on the back as Miss Adamson at the Hotel des Ecoles. It sold to the Sippican Historical Society for $5,750 and will hang in the sitting room of the historic Marion Music Hall.

Two woodblock seascapes by Boston artist Margaret Patterson were richly colored and sold for $5,175 and $3,680, respectively. “Man in a Dory of Fort Phoenix, Fairhaven” by Charles Henry Gifford sold for $3,220, and a 1976 oil on Masonite, “Southeaster” by William Baldwin sold for $2,530.

Two portraits by Middleborough, Mass., artist Cephus Thompson sold to a descendant. One depicting his niece Susan Porter Thompson, who was born in 1807, sold for $4,313. Another of a man sold for $2,300. Two portraits of women by his son Cephus Giovanni Thompson went for $403 each.

An important document crossing the block here was a 1916 letter in French from Mary Stevenson Cassatt to Paris dealer Ambroise Vollard that sold for $21,850. Vollard was so taken with Cassatt’s work that he acquired many of her paintings for his own collection. The letter came from the Duxbury collection and went to the New Hampshire trade.

An interesting local (South Dartmouth) group included letters relating to whaling from Charles H. Gifford to his wife, tintypes and daguerreotypes of the Gifford and Wing families, a whaling journal, cartes de visite and other papers, selling for $1,725.

Another document that created a great stir was the original manuscript of the poem “The Conqueror Worm” by Edgar Allan Poe that sold at the auction for $310,500, subject to authentication.. First it was and then it wasn’t and then it was again and then it wasn’t. The poem, written in the 1830s, had been in a Rhode Island collection since the 1920s and was sold. The successful bidder, a collector, arranged for authentication by a group of six experts in a meeting conducted at the Morgan Library in New York City, but independent of the institution.

The group comprised one Poe expert, Jeffrey A. Savoye of the Baltimore area, who concluded that the document was absolutely right, a New York dealer who believed it to be absolutely wrong, another scholar who believed the evidence was too complicated to make a decision and three other experts who found the evidence inconclusive. That the paper was of the period but different from other paper Poe had used was confounding. No one pronounced it a fake, but the sale was rescinded.

Savoye continued to study the matter and discovered that the paper on which the Poe poem was written was the same as he used for other work. The new evidence caused the sale to go forward. The dissenting dealer subsequently convinced the successful buyer that purchasing the document would be a mistake should her children decide to sell it at some point and the sale was once again rescinded on August 18.

A late Eighteenth Century celestial globe was hand colored and marked G. Adams London (for George who with his brother Dudley had a shop in Fleet Street) and sold for $5,463. A mid-Nineteenth Century whalebone and whale ivory walking stick with a baleen band from about 1864 had belonged to Captain Benjamin Wing of South Dartmouth, and it sold for $3,220. It was Wing who in 1860 built Seathrift, the site of the Marion Antiques Auction sale a year ago.

A Nantucket swing-handle handbag with a carved ivory plaque on the top and an ivory closure was signed B&J Sayle and dated 1981. It realized $1,093. A French Growler bulldog pull toy was missing a front paw wheel and had some slight damage but was charming and also sold for $1,093.

Good silver was strong. A three-piece Arts and Crafts tea service by Dedham silversmith Katherine Pratt was signed “Pratt Sterling” and sold to an unidentified institution for $4,025. A Tiffany covered vegetable dish brought $4,025, a Tiffany kettle on stand was $1,840, and six Tiffany goblets sold for $1,495.

Georg Jensen was represented by a silver tray in the Blossom pattern that sold for $2,415, and a silver bracelet bearing the mark for Nanna and Jorgen Ditzel was $2,185. Another bracelet designed by Ibe Dahlquist for Jensen sold for $1,265.

A three-piece floral repoussé demitasse set was marked only “sterling” and sold for $3,385.

An early Twentieth Century gilt copper weathervane in the form of a whale brought $2,185, and a mid-Nineteenth Century wire and zinc birdcage in the form of a large house with a mansard roof and glass windows and skylights sold for $1,495.

Two roll-up city maps sold. An 1855 map of Cincinnati by Civil Engineer J. Stewart and published by E. Mendenhall was in fine condition and brought $1,265, while another example of the Boston area by H.F. Walling and published by F.A. Baker in 1859 had some condition issues and realized $518. An 1880 Eldredge’s chart of Buzzards Bay published in Boston by Thatcher and Sons was $489.

All prices reported include the buyer’s premium. For information, 508-748-3606 or

You must register or login to post a comment.