Published: November 24, 2020
Review by W.A. Demers, Photos Courtesy Sarasota Estate Auction
SARASOTA, FLA. – Andrew Ford, auctioneer and owner of Sarasota Estate Auction, offered a trove of American and European art at his two-day November 14-15 auction. The sale headlined fine art by listed American and European artists, including works by Jane Peterson, Hayley Lever, Hudson River School artist James McDougal Park and many European artists. The top price of $36,000 was achieved for an oil on canvas by American pin-up master Gil Elvgren (1914-1980). Though the sale had been originally planned as a one-day event, “We have had such a large volume of great art and antiques offered we had to make this a two-day sale in order to give the proper showcase to all the wonderful pieces we had to sell,” Ford said.
The firm specializes in a wide variety of furniture, antiques, fine art, lighting, sculptures and collectibles. Ford has a passion for finding the best pieces of art and antiques and sharing those finds with the Gulf Coast of Florida.
His full first name Gillette, Elvgren was an American painter of pin-up girls, advertising and illustration. Best known for his pin-up paintings for Brown & Bigelow, Elvgren studied at the American Academy of Art. He was strongly influenced by the early “pretty girl” illustrators, such as Charles Dana Gibson, Andrew Loomis and Howard Chandler Christy.
This particular portrait au naturelle, 29¼ by 23¼ inches, was titled “Wanda,” a painting of model Wanda Pickett, signed lower left in Elvgren’s distinctive cursive style, and dated on reverse: 5/25/1933. Although a master of portraying the all-American ideal feminine, Elvgren wasn’t limited to the calendar pin-up industry. In 1937, he began painting calendar pin-ups for Louis F. Dow, one of America’s leading publishing companies, during which time he created about 60 works. Around 1944, he was approached by Brown and Bigelow, a firm that still dominates the field in producing calendars and advertising specialties. He was associated with Brown and Bigelow from 1945 to 1972. Elvgren lived in various locations, and was active from the 1930s to 1970s. His clients ranged from Brown and Bigelow and Coca-Cola to General Electric and Sealy Mattress Company. In addition, during the 1940s and 1950s he illustrated stories for a host of magazines, such as The Saturday Evening Post and Good Housekeeping.
Another American artist notable in the sale was Jane Peterson (1876-1965). Fetching $10,000 was “Cosmos in a Vase,” an oil on canvas still life measuring 29½ by 24½ inches. Exhibiting bright colors of pink and purple with a bouquet of petunias and gold leaf frame, it was signed in the lower right with a plaque in the lower middle. Born Jennie Christine in Elgin, Ill., she officially changed her name to Jane Peterson in 1909 after her first success as an artist. Her family was of humble background but certainly not poverty stricken. She became famous for a wide range of works from landscapes to still lifes that blend Impressionist and Expressionist movements. As a woman, her life was much more independent and adventurous than those of most of her contemporaries, and she traveled widely to paint, including joining Louis Comfort Tiffany on a continental painting expedition in his private railway car. In 1916, she exhibited work she had painted in the Pacific Northwest while traveling with Louis Tiffany. By 1916, she was also doing much painting of colorful beach scenes with Maurice Prendergast and went on to paint many landscapes and seascapes. She completed many floral subjects, which were inspired by the gardens of her summer house in Ipswich, Mass. Many of her beach and pier scenes were from painting trips to artist colonies along the Massachusetts coast.
Another Peterson work in the sale, “Flowers,” white hostas and petunias portrayed in a masterful still life, was bid to $4,300. The oil on canvas, which had provenance to a 1986 sale at Skinner, was signed in the lower right. Exhibited at Ipswich Art Association in 1926, the 31½-by-31-inch painting won first prize.
Pop artist Peter Max (b 1937) was on board with a bright acrylic painting on canvas titled “Vase of Flowers” on the verso and reflecting his use of bright vibrant colors. Signed on the image in the upper right and with a Wentworth Gallery label verso, the 15-by-11½-inch painting brought $5,000. Max, one of the foremost leaders of the Pop art movement of the last half of the Twentieth Century, was born in Berlin and fled to Shanghai with his family shortly before World War II. His family stayed there for ten years, then moved to Haifa, Israel, in 1948. Eventually he settled in Brooklyn and New York City and became associated with psychedelic art and Pop art.
“Troop Ships on Hudson River, April 14, 1919,” by Hayley Lever (1876-1958) finished at $4,300. The oil on wood panel, 12½ by 15½ inches, depicts the scene during the Victory celebrations, the Atlantic Fleet sailing up the Hudson with returning soldiers to a tumultuous welcome. Lever was known for his town-shore landscapes and still life painting in a style that combined impressionism with vivid colors and strong lines of realism.
European fine art in the sale was led by a genre portrait of a small town fellow with his bags of fish, smoking while he rests by Vladimir Egorovich Makovsky (Russian, 1846-1920). The framed watercolor, signed lower right and dated 1893, left the gallery at $5,900. Makovsky taught in the life class of the Moscow school of painting, sculpture and architecture, and led the scenic workshop at the Imperial Academy of Arts. He is a recognized master of “small genre,” works that as a rule, tell the whole story, which includes not only the images but also preceding and subsequent events. Episodes of everyday life were a favorite theme of the artist.
The firm does well with Midcentury Modern furniture. In this sale, a Philip & Kelvin LaVerne coffee table, an excellent example from the father and son New York artisans in the 1970s, brought $4,700. All original, signed and measuring 47¾ by 20 by 16¾ inches, the table featured patinated bronze with pewter overlay and polychrome details in the “chan” style.
Jewelry highlights were led by a vintage lady’s diamond cluster-style bracelet that realized $10,400. The bracelet had ten pear-cut, 29 round brilliant cut diamonds and 20 marquise cut diamonds. Stated weight was 14.10 carats, all diamonds are of G-H color and VS1-SI1 clarity. The bracelet was crafted in 19.4 dwt of platinum and measured 7 inches long.
Prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. For information, www.sarasotaestateauction.com or 941-359-8700.
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