Published: June 5, 2018
Review and Onsite Photos by Rick Russack
SOUTH PORTLAND, MAINE – In August of last year, four long-time employees of the Barridoff Galleries bought the company from its founders, Rob and Annette Elowitch, who started the business in 1978. In March of this year, the company moved into new gallery space in South Portland, and a May 17 sale was its first in the new space. The sale had a varied selection, including paintings from the Eighteenth Century through the Twenty-First Century, photographs by Edward Curtis and others, glass by Dale Chihuly, lithographs, posters and more. It was a well-attended sale, phone lines were in use and internet bidding was available.
The top lot of the evening was “Penobscot Gals” by impressionist Waldo Peirce (American, 1884-1970), which sold for $31,720. The signed and dated painting had been the property of the artist’s nephew and had been exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1938. Peirce, who often insisted “I’m a painter, not an artist,” was a close friend of Ernest Hemingway and considered something of a character in his time. He produced many paintings of his family – he was married four times and had five children. His work hangs in several museums. The second highest priced work in the sale, reaching $24,400, was “A Drink at the Brasserie” by Jean Beraud (French, 1849-1935). He is known for his paintings of life in Paris, especially the nightlife.
The sale started off with a pair of Eighteenth Century Venetian school paintings of scenes in Venice. Estimated at $1,200, the pair sold for $2,684. Shortly thereafter, a phone bidder bought a volume containing 23 of 25 collotypes by symbolist Gustav Klimt (Austrian, 1862-1918). The volume, published in 1919 in an edition of 500 copies, was titled “25 Handzeichnungen” and it realized $5,490. A brightly colored gouache by Czech artist Ladislav Sutnar (1897-1976), “Venus in a Red Flame,” went out for $2,196. It was signed and inscribed “Merry Xmas to Betty and Lloyd from Tom and Rita, 1939.” An album of 12 silkscreens, “Strip Street,” by the artist failed to sell.
Among the American works was a pencil drawing by John Singer Sargent, (1856-1926), which sold for $10,980. It was titled “Winds” and was a study for a panel over a stairway in Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. In 1921, the museum commissioned Sargent to do the painting at a cost of $40,000, and it was installed over the Huntington Avenue staircase in 1925.
A lithograph, “The Fence Mender,” by Thomas Hart Benton (American, 1889-1975) sold for $1,952. The Old Print Shop website states that Benton wrote about this print, “Common scene where there are barbed wire fences – This one was found in middle Nebraska in 1939 – on the trip where the horses were bought for the Friends Light Artillery.” The firm’s copy of the lithograph is priced at $4,900, so Barridoff’s was apparently a good buy.
Two charcoal and pastel studies by Will Barnet (American, 1911-2012), framed back to back, earned $15,680. One was a study for “Woman, Cat and Yarn” and the other was a study “With Cat, Bird and Ball.” A double-sided watercolor by William Zorach, with “Five Islands, Georgetown,” on one side and a nude on the other, earned $6,100. An unusual oil by Alton Pickens, (American, 1917-1991) “Hermes and Ero,” 1944, went out for $8,540, almost three times the estimate. Pickens’ works have been included in exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, which includes four of his works in its collection.
An oil on canvas by Bernard Langlais (American, 1923-1977), “Skowhegan Landscape,” 1950s, sold for $10,370.
Not everything in the sale was a painting or a work on paper, however. There were two assemblages of animal subjects by Langlais. “Grasshopper” finished at $2,074, and a large one, “Horses and Cows,” brought $7,320. It was well over the estimate and went to a very happy couple in the room. Langlais was a Maine artist known for his assemblages. And a stuffed cloth rhinoceros by Dahlov Ipcar (American, 1917-2017) went to a phone bidder for $1,464. Ipcar was the daughter of William and Marguerite Zorach and was encouraged to start painting while very young. After marrying, she and her husband moved to a farm in Georgetown, Maine, growing their own food and selling milk and eggs to supplement their income.
Photography offerings included works by Edward Curtis and others. A photograph by Curtis, “The Basketweavers,” went to an internet bidder for $1,220, and a lot of six photogravures by Curtis earned $3,660. Included in that group were “A Mat House” (plate 301) and “Puget Sound” (plate 269).
The new owners of the gallery include Bill Milliken, Deirdre Nice, Glenn Morin and a fourth individual, who asked that he not be identified at this time. “Our intention is to produce two live auctions a year and two online sales,” said the new owners. “We may add additional sales, depending on the collections that come our way. We’ve completely redone our website. We plan to concentrate on the works of Maine artists, including contemporary works. By limiting ourselves to just a few sales a year, we’ll be able to be selective in what we offer. We think that Jim Julia’s departure from the Maine marketplace will create opportunities for us. Each of us has expertise in different parts of the business, and we’ve known each other for years. We’re very optimistic about the business we can build.”
Staffing the podium for the new company was Jay Piscopo, a name familiar to many. His mother, Joy Piscopo, operated F.O. Bailey, well-known antiques and fine art dealers, in Portland. She sold the company in 2014. F.O. Bailey can trace its roots back to Henry Bailey’s 1819 general merchandise store and auction business. Jay grew up in the business, working with his mother.
Prices are given with buyer’s premium, as reported by the auction house. For information, www.barridoff.com or 207-772-5011.
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