Published: October 19, 2010
Alderfer’s most recent fine and decorative arts auction wowed crowds and highlighted the art of Berks County. The auction included several items by Berks County artists and craftsmen. Several Nineteenth Century watercolors by “The Reading Artist” were offered on the first day of the September 9‱0 sale.
A 9½-by-7½-inch portrait by the Berks County artist, of Jonathan Beutler, attained $3,390. The portrait depicted the gentleman seated by a window holding a cigar, with an expansive view visible through a window. Two similar portraits by the artist, depicting Peter and Rebeka Schneider, sold as a pair for $2,373. The watercolors were part of a large Americana and folk art collection that was featured in this auction.
A circa 1790 Berks County paint decorated dower chest was also sold here. The chest featured a colorful green and red painted heart and flower motif and achieved $8,475. These items were included in the decorative arts portion of the sale that featured jewelry, ephemera, decorative objects, furniture and rugs.
The following night, during the fine art and sculpture auction, another work by a Berks County artist was featured. A 19-inch-tall bronze sound sculpture by Harry Bertoia went for $16,800 to a California phone bidder. The sculpture was accompanied by a recording of various Bertoia sound sculptures. The sculpture had been purchased directly from the artist in the 1970s and had remained in the private collection until the current sale.
During the first day of the sale, a never-used Royal Copenhagen Flora Danica dinner service for 12 was sold. The delicately hand painted set, coming from a Chester County collection, was sold in several lots and featured various highly detailed and intricate serving pieces. The grouping sold for a combined $44,702.
The collection was a top attraction at the weeklong preview, which saw record crowds, during the holiday weekend. The porcelain set had the phone lines lighting up during the sale.
The first day of the sale included a wide selection of collectibles and historical items. An Eighteenth Century scrapbook featuring a letter signed by founding father and signer of the Declaration of Independence, Benjamin Rush, sold for $6,215. The fragile scrapbook also featured a variety of additional Colonial documents. A grouping of autographs, coming from a Midwest collection, featured documents signed by presidents, poets, musicians and other significant historical figures.
A grouping of Tammany mechanical banks also attracted much attention. A “Teddy and the Bear” bank, which features Theodore Roosevelt, sold for $1,356, and a “Mule Entering Barn” fetched $1,485.
Included in the silver portion of the auction was a sterling silver Georg Jensen Pyramid pattern flatware service for 12 that brought $9,860, while a Wallace Princess Anne pattern 15-piece sterling tea service went for $4,125. An elaborately carved ivory candle screen sold for $3,770.
The second day of the auction featured more than 240 American and European paintings, prints, frames and sculpture. A floral still life by Russian American David Burliuk sold for $11,115. A Nineteenth Century landscape titled “The Ferry at the Mill,” by Xanthus Smith, took $9,600. The painting, coming out of a private Pennsylvania collection, had been on display at a funeral home for many years.
Works by Bucks County artists are always a favorite here and were no exception this time. The ever-popular Walter E. Baum was represented by several works in the auction, including “Winter Brook,” a 25-by-30-inch canvas, selling to one of many phone bidders for $19,200. The painting was offered in its original, untouched condition.
Several additional smaller works by Baum were offered, including the 16-by-20-inch “Near Sellersville” and the 16-by-22-inch “Trumbauersville” for $8,190 and $7,605, respectively.
A small winter landscape by Harry Leith-Ross went out at $4,972, and a circus scene by Paulette Van Roekens realized $5,700. A Modernist composition featuring a rooster, by John Foster brought $3,000, and a small tonalist landscape by the father of the Pennsylvania Impressionists, William L. Lathrop, was had for $3,000.
Several works on paper were offered at the auction, including a collection of pencil and ink drawings by New York artist and Woodstock Art Colony member, Ross Braught. “Summer Burial,” a 21-by-29-inch pencil drawing, fetched $2,520. In total, the collection attained $14,628. A collection of woodblock prints by Luigi Rist was also included in the sale and was well received. Standouts included “Smoked Fish” and “A Garden Opal” at $1,404 and $1,599.
A small work by another New York artist, Guy C. Wiggins, achieved $7,500. The work, titled “Wall Street Winter” featured its original label and frame. The scene was typical of the artist and a favorite subject, which he repeated again and again.
Prices include the buyer’s premium. This sale is one of four fine and decorative auctions at Alderfer’s every year. The next quarterly sale will be December 9‱0. For information, 215-393-3023 or www.alderferauction.com .
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