Published: February 20, 2015
CHARLESTON, S.C. – “It was a great sale,” said Copley Fine Art Auctions co-principal Steve O’Brien of his firm’s February 12 winter sale at the American Theater. The sale’s approximately 560 lots were led by Arthur Burdett Frost’s (1851-1928) “Quail – A Covey Rise,” 1895, which rose to a record $180,000, including buyer’s premium. Signed “A.B. Frost” lower right, the 14-by-22-inch watercolor was originally owned by Clarence Otis Bigelow, born in 1851 in Rhode Island, the youngest son of soap manufacturer William Marlin Bigelow. Bigelow was a member of the Sons of the Revolution as a descendent of John Bigelow, whose marriage was the first recorded in Watertown, Mass., in 1633.
The previous record for an A.B. Frost work was set on October 18, 1989, when Sotheby’s sold “Autumn Woodcock Shooting” for $85,250.
Frost was born in Philadelphia in 1851, but spent his most prolific years in New Jersey. Considered one of the great illustrators of the “Golden Age of American Illustration,” he illustrated more than 90 books and produced thousands of illustrations for Harper’s Weekly, Scribner’s and Life magazines. Frost’s illustrative work chronicles the mood and details of the daily life of farmers, hunters and fishermen, as well as barnyards and pastoral motifs.
This work, “Quail – A Covey Rise,” is the original watercolor reproduced by Charles Scribner’s Sons in Frost’s “Shooting Pictures,” a portfolio of 12 chromolithograph prints, considered one of the artist’s most iconic and recognized works.
Also in the sale, John James Audubon’s “Snowy Owl” sold for $72,000 on a $60/90,000 estimate.
The auction saw $1.84 million in sales and a 95 percent sell-through rate. There was robust bidding across numerous fields including paintings, prints, folk art, decoys and vintage fishing tackle. A full report of this sale will appear in an upcoming issue of Antiques and The Arts Weekly.
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