Published: March 8, 2021
Notable sales in our March 19, 2021 issue include lots that are sure to pique the interests of history buffs, including an 1851 autographed letter written by Frederick Douglass to abolitionist Sallie Hollie that brought six figures at Swann. Meanwhile, a miniature portrait dating from the War of 1812 came in close to $20,000 at Wiederseim Associates. Art collectors prompted active bidding as an abstract acrylic on canvas painting by Cleve Gray crossed the block at Roland and an oil on canvasboard painting by Walter Elmer Schofield raised paddles at Winter Associates. Famille rose porcelain lamps lit up bidding at Dutch Auctions and a formal horse weathervane rode in to a high estimate at Gustave J.S. White. Keep reading to learn the results of an Eighteenth Century marble bust, a Judaica spice tower and more artwork.
NEW YORK CITY – The top lot in Swann Auction Galleries’ books and autographs sale on February 25 was an autographed letter written by Frederick Douglass to abolitionist Sallie Hollie on August 8, 1851, in which he encouraged her to join the cause of the Liberty Party abolitionists and offered her a job at his newspaper. The two-page letter, written on both sides of a single sheet of pale blue paper of quarto size, achieved $112,500 from an online collector against an estimate of $20/30,000. A representative for the auction house said that it was the highest price ever paid for an autographed letter by Douglass at auction. For information, 212-254-4710 or www.swanngalleries.com.
PORTSMOUTH, R.I. – Mike Corcoran of Gustave J.S. White conducted a Rhode Island estates auction on February 24, chock-full of paintings, architectural appointments, tribal weapons and artifacts, porcelain, silver, folk art and more. The sale was led by a weathervane that the auction house had cautiously attributed to A.L. Jewell Co. From the third quarter of the Nineteenth Century and removed from an old barn in Portsmouth, the full-bodied, molded formal horse and rider vane appears more elegant than folky. It was bid to $12,000. For information, 401-841-5780 or 401-667-1284.
ALAMEDA, CALIF. – An auction record was set at Michaan’s Auction on February 20 when the firm sold Carlos Villa’s (American, 1936-2013) “Horizontal Abstraction with Feathers” for $5,700. The work measured 22 by 31 inches and featured feathers on handmade paper sheet. Villa created the work in 1979, ten years after he started teaching at the San Francisco Art Institute – a role he kept up until his death in 2013. For more information, www.michaans.com or 510-740-0220.
EAST MEADOW, N.Y.- World Auction Gallery sold a Russian Judaica Besamim spice tower for $8,310 on February 28. The silver example featured all over plique-á-jour enameling and measured 8¾ inches high. The firm said it was fully hallmarked in various places and came from a Brooklyn, N.Y., collection. It sold after 27 bids. For information, 516-307-8180 or www.worldauctiongallery.com.
GLEN COVE, N.Y.- An abstract acrylic on canvas painting by Cleve Gray (American, 1918-2004) brought $23,370 at Roland NY’s February 27 sale. In red and black, the 71-by-50½-inch work titled “Red Firmament” sold on 19 bids for just under double its high estimate. Gray was a contributing editor to Art in America in the 1960s, editing volumes on David Smith, John Marin and Hans Richter. During World War II, Gray became an acquaintance of Picasso and other Parisian avant-garde artists while receiving informal art training. For information, 212-260-2000 or www.rolandantiques.com.
PHOENIXVILLE, PENN. – A miniature portrait of Cromwell Pearce by James Peale Sr (American, 1749-1831) sold for $19,200 at Wiederseim Associates Inc’s February 26 sale. Pearce was a Colonel in the US Army during the War of 1812 as he commanded the 16th Regiment in the Pennsylvania militia. He was also an aide de camp to the commander in chief of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Engraved into the gold casing on the back was “Gen’l Cromwell Pearce 1772-1854, James Peale Pinxt.” For information, www.wiederseim.com or 610-827-1910.
PLAINVILLE, CONN. – An oil on canvasboard painting by Walter Elmer Schofield (American, 1867-1944) sold for $9,675 at Winter Associates Inc’s February 22 sale. The scene was inscribed verso “Trewinnard Farm,” a locale in Cornwall, England. The rural country street scene depicted houses on either side of a road with a blue sky and towering trees above. It measured 15¼ by 17¼ inches. Born in Philadelphia, Schofield moved to England in 1901 and Cornwall in 1903. He would split his time between the United States and Europe for the rest of his life. For information, 860-793-0288 or www.auctionappraisers.com.
CRANSTON, R.I.- An Eighteenth Century marble bust of Maria Theresa, Empress and wife of Francis I, sold for $7,800 at Bruneau & Co’s February 25 sale. The bust measured 28 inches high and came on a pudding stone pedestal 39¼ inches high. Maria Theresa was the only female ruler of the Habsburg dominions, Empress of Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Bohemia, Transylvania, Mantua, Milan, Lodomeria and Galicia, the Austrian Netherlands and Parma. The bust featured the Empress wearing a lace dress, tiara and cross jewelry. For information, 401-533-9980 or www.bruneauandco.com.
MICKLETON, N.J. – A pair of Asian porcelain famille rose lamps brought $3,750 at Dutch Auction Sales’ February 25 sale. A matched pair, the lamps feature two vases that were drilled to make way for the electric cord. The porcelain alone measured approximately 18 inches high and both were in fine condition without any chips, cracks or repairs. For information, 856-423-6800 or www.dutchauctionsales.com.
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