Published: February 10, 2004
When dealer Leigh Keno previewed a sale at John McInnis several months back, he casually suggested that McInnis give him a call if he should find anything of interest for Keno and his twin brother Leslie’s antiques program Find! Just a few weeks later McInnis called to say he’d found a very good painting, would the Kenos be interested? Would they, indeed!
McInnis had found a painting in an attic on a house call in Arlington, Mass. He immediately removed the painting from the attic, where it had been for at least 60 years, simply to prevent it from further flaking. Then he took a second look. It was when he saw the distinctive Heade signature that he called Keno who got the “Find!” crew together. The next step was to consult with Theodore E. Stebbins, Jr., the authority on Heade, with the cameras rolling. Stebbins, curator of American paintings at the Fogg Art Museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts, examined the painting at conservator Jim Wright’s studio in Somerville, Massachusetts, and determined that the painting is indeed a very fine Heade. The crew proceeded to the Arlington consignor’s home where they filmed the discovery of other antique pieces. At the end of the day, with the cameras still rolling, the consignor, who prefers to be only as Pat, was told about the Heade. As Keno said, “She was pretty happy!”
The picture came on the block before a packed house during the season’s first blizzard. Bidding opened at $100,000 with 16 telephone bidders and at least six bidders in the room. As the lot neared the high estimate of $400,000, half the phone bidders dropped from the action. The eight other phone bidders and two persistent bidders in the sales room continued to compete. New York City gallery owner Michael Altman took the painting for $1,006,250, including premium. Altman was said to be representing a client. Speaking after the sale, Leigh Keno said he “would have been really surprised if the picture had sold for less than $500,000.” He said the picture was especially desirable because it was a landscape with a sailboat on a river at sunset, with Heade’s classic sky and orange clouds. Keno added that the picture was first thought to be of Florida or Brazil where Heade was very active, but it was then determined to be “Newburyport, which helped it,” he said.
Keno said the consignor who inherited the picture from her mother, who had also inherited it, plans to share the money with her sister and do some work on her house. She said she will also buy her husband the 1937 Buick that he’s always wanted. Leigh Keno quoted his twin Leslie as saying that now she can buy several.
This is not the first Heade to sell in Massachusetts this fall. In September a Heade still life of tropical plums brought $195,500 at Waterhouse Gallery’ in Seekonk.
A Salem area Queen Anne walnut highboy with fan carving that came from the same house brought $16,100 from Newburyport, Massachusetts, dealer Chris Snow.
Other finds from the Arlington house were a pair of fire buckets of which Leigh Keno said one was used as an umbrella stand at the front door and the other sat in the basement of the house. The Eighteenth Century buckets marked Frederic Howes of Salem, Massachusetts, sold for $4,025 to a Maine dealer. A jolly looking Nineteenth Century rampant rocking horse with a painted scenic panel sold for $2,013.
Even blizzard conditions outside didn’t deter buyers whose eagerness made this McInnis’ best sale ever, drawing a total of $1,917,022,50.
An exuberantly decorated Baltimore Classical games table was a surprise when it flew past its estimated $8,000-12,000 to $135,125. The table came from a former governor of Maryland and descended to the estate of family member Ogden Nash who kept it in his summer home. It had a rectangular top above a gilt decorated apron on a turned pedestal. A small and very pretty Boston Chippendale mahogany games table on ball and claw feet with acanthus carving on the knees sold for $28,750 to a New Orleans dealer buying for a client.
An Eighteenth Century pair of Italian bombe commodes with kingwood set on flared legs realized $43,125 from a Connecticut dealer. They were estimated at $10,000-15,000.
A Portsmouth, New Hampshire, collector bought a daguerreotype of a Portsmouth, New Hampshire, house that McInnis first saw on an appraisal day in the gallery for $3,565 against the estimated $400-600.
A pair of Massachusetts Queen Anne balloon seat chairs with oxbow crest rails realized $22,425. The chairs came from a Georgetown, Massachusetts, estate and sold to an Andover, Massachusetts collector who also bought a Queen Anne mahogany drop leaf breakfast table for $9,200. The table was originally thought to be a Rhode Island piece and was later judged to be from Salem.
A Salem Federal games table with inlaid birch panels and central oval inlay brought $9,200, A pair of Boston Classical mahogany library chairs with curved and caned backs more than tripled their high estimate when they sold for $5,175.
Ten years ago McInnis appraised two paintings in a Marblehead, Massachusetts, home. They finally came to market in this sale. One, a fine oil on canvas portrait of the American ship “Mary” by William Howard Yorke was estimated at $6,000-9,000 and fetched $67,850 from a west coast collector. The other, a China Trade example of American ships in Hong Kong Harbor in the original frame was desirable to buyers who drove its final price to $40,250, five times’ the low estimate, despite some craquelure. Hyland Granby was the buyer.
English artist James Stark’s bucolic landscape “On the Yare River,” which was exhibited in 1821 at the Norwich Museum in Norwich, England, sold for $9,200.
What a difference a shade makes! A Tiffany Studios bronze floor lamp with a signed glass shade (LCT) fetched $16,100, while a Tiffany Studios bronze floor lamp went to $1,898. A 40-inch art glass and brass newel post with an art glass finial resting on a pierced ball with brass supports attracted bidders and went for $3,450.
Among a selection of rugs, two late additions to the sale fared very well. A red Persian Bidjar carpet that measured 18’7″ by 11’3″ brought $21,850 and a circa 1920 Indian garden carpet was $13,225.
All prices quoted reflect the flat 15% premium.
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