Published: April 11, 2017
Review by Andrea Valluzzo, Catalog Photos Courtesy Doyle
NEW YORK CITY — Doyle’s American paintings, furniture and decorative arts auction April 5 came in just under $1 million. The sale showcased a broad range of American paintings, including Nineteenth Century portraits, Hudson River School views, Western-themed landscapes and sculpture, fine examples of naïve painting, and still life. The auction included a wide range of American furniture and decorative arts from the Colonial period through the Federal and classical styles. Silver, ceramics, mirrors, Chinese export porcelain and rugs were also offered.
Competitive bidding in the salesroom, on the phones and online drove the sale to a total of $976,802, within estimate, and the sale was 85 percent sold by lot and 90 percent sold by value.
The top lot of the auction was James Edward Buttersworth’s (1817–1894) depiction of the sloop Phillip R. Paulding in New York Harbor with Castle Clinton in the distance. Going well over its $80/120,000 estimate, the work attracted vigorous competitive bidding from the trade that drove the price to $250,000. A phone buyer acquired the painting that featured an unusual subject for Buttersworth, who favored yachts.
“The Buttersworth was a treat, it was just a beautiful painting. I love telling stories about art and artists and the Buttersworth tells a wonderful story about New York,” said Doyle’s VP/director of American art Anne Cohen DePietro. “Overall it was a very successful sale.”
Seen in the painting as coming at an acute angle across the lower tip of Manhattan, with Castle Clinton just ahead of it on the left, the Phillip R. Paulding is the type of vessel that plied the Hudson River for daily commerce during the Eighteenth–Nineteenth Centuries. This painting by Buttersworth, which had been made into a print, served as one source for the design of the sloop Clearwater, championed by the late folksinger Pete Seeger and launched in 1969 and still used today for environmental education.
Other top lots in the auction crossing the block late in the sale, and going well over estimate, were a Tiffany & Co. 18K gold demitasse set of 12 cups and saucers, together with 12 George III silver-gilt teaspoons that sold just over high estimate at $68,750, a Herter Brothers American Aesthetic Movement mahogany tall case clock, circa 1874, that brought $34,375 and a Federal inlaid mahogany secretary bookcase ($8/12,000) at $28,125.
Featured in the sale was the collection of Willa Kim and William Pène du Bois. Kim is an award-winning costume designer and her writer and illustrator husband is the son of the prominent American artist Guy Pène du Bois. Among the 100-plus-lot highlights were furniture, decorations, mechanical toys, costume jewelry and paintings, including an extensive group of works by Guy Pène du Bois, some of which will be offered in future sales.
Cohen DePietro noted the sale was a well-rounded, diverse sale that boasted among its strengths a grouping of regional landscapes from an Indiana painting by William McKendree Snyder to several Hudson River paintings and several White Mountains works that all performed admirably.
“We truly had bidders from around the country; I think this was a particularly lovely sale. We had a lot of landscapes this time, not much still life or portraits. We also had collectors and dealers in naïve art,” she noted.
Among the artists featured in this sale were four paintings by Harry Humphrey Moore (American, 1844–1926), who was born in New York City into a wealthy family and travelled extensively around the world. His Japanese works are particularly popular with collectors.
“The market ebbs and flows, but it was a treat to have the naïve works of such quality,” she said of the Moore works. “He had a very elegant hand and a precise hand.”
One of Cohen DePietro’s favorite pieces in this sale was Moore’s “Tattooed Palanquin Bearer,” 1881, a striking 11-by-6¼-inch oil on panel work, that shows a heavily tattooed palanquin bearer awaiting a passenger. Tattooing was forbidden in Japan at this time but people in the lower social strata, such as palanquin bearers, who carried people in a cart of sorts borne aloft on poles resting on their shoulders, would often ignore the ban. Humphrey’s painting more than doubled high estimate to bring $7,500.
Moore notably maintained a studio in Paris in which he kept his Japanese subject paintings hung salon-style on the wall but covered at all times with a drape. “The 70 small paintings were ganged together … and if you were the lucky visitor — for whom he would pull back the drape — you got to see these exquisite paintings. We started a couple years ago to offer the Japanese subjects and they have been met with great enthusiasm,” she said.
A big surprise in the sale, she noted, were two works by Louis Michel Eilshemius (American, 1864–1941) with “The Source,” depicting two nude women gathering water, fetching $6,250, and “Bathers at a Secluded Lake” earning $10,000, both going well over estimate.
All prices reported include the buyer’s premium.
For further information, www.doyle.com or 212-427-2730.
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