Published: August 17, 2021
Review by W.A. Demers, Photos Courtesy The Cobbs Auctioneers
PETERBOROUGH, N.H. – Antiques dealers and collectors in the know used to head for the historic mill building known as Noone Falls Mill in this quaint New England town any time Charlie Cobb of The Cobbs Auctioneers would present one of his sales loaded with art, antiques and cultural objects. That pilgrimage these days may be more in line with the realities of the digital age, but even online the lure is there, as the family-owned and operated auction house provides an auction experience that is enjoyable for both buyers and sellers. Such was the case on August 7 when the firm presented its summer fine art, antiques, jewelry and decorative arts auction. Cobb does not disclose the total sale amount but said the auction had a 96 percent sell-through rate and attracted 4,265 total registered bidders from all bidding methods.
European art was hot. Experiencing a resurgence in this market was William Newenham Montague Orpen (Irish, 1878-1931) whose oil on canvas painting titled “After the Ball,” depicting masked and caped couples just outside a building sold for $72,000, a significant premium over the painting’s $20/30,000 estimate. Signed lower left “Orpen,” the 53-by-41-inch canvas came in a good old molded gilt frame and bore exhibition labels attached to the stretcher from the Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh and the Royal Academy. An Irish artist who worked mainly in London, Orpen was a fine draughtsman and a popular, commercially successful painter of portraits for the well-to-do in Edwardian society. The painting went to an English bidder, said Charlie Cobb. “With such great exhibition history provenance, you can’t ask for anything more.”
An Eighteenth/Nineteenth Century Italian carved marble frieze after Luca Della Robbia/Brunelleschi similarly got paddles wagging, selling for $20,400 above a $12,000 high estimate. Titled “A Musical Procession,” the original group of friezes “Cantoria” are now on display at the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, in Florence, Italy. Measuring 38 by 45 by 5 inches, the frieze was in good condition, with an old, weathered, partially polished surface and mounting holes drilled in the sides and top. The catalog description noted provenance to a Dublin, N.H., home originally constructed 1972 by Ray Winfield Smith (1897-1982), Egyptology professor at Dartmouth College and relative of Joseph Lindon Smith, famed painter of the interiors of the Egyptian pyramids, who brought back to the United States numerous antiquities.
Fetching $14,400 was a painting by Camille Bombois (French, 1883-1970). The view was of two gentlemen in a rowboat. The oil on canvas, “Rowing on a Pond,” was signed lower left “Bombois C,” measured 23¾ by 36½ inches and was presented in an original frame of two-tone black and gray and the painting had come from a private Dublin, N.H., collection.
Representing Belgian art was an oil on canvas scene of a shepherd and his sheep by Franz de Beul (1849-1919). Signed lower left “Franz de Beul, 1880,” the 35-by-25-inch painting from a New Hampshire collection was set in the original gold molded frame and realized $3,360.
The focus turning to early Americana, an Eighteenth Century American Revolutionary powder horn with history and provenance finished at $26,400, more than twice its high estimate. It was in very good old surface, dated and signed “LH (Landon Hood) 1775, June 28,” and was decorated around the outside with houses, cannons, buildings, trees, fish and numerous designs. The horn measured 13¼ inches long at the end and featured an insert paper star design with writing in pen “Landon Hood his horn Liberty or Death 1775 AD” at the end cap. According to catalog notes, Hood was from Taunton, Mass., born around 1750 and died in 1839, having served as a private in the Massachusetts militia from 1775 to 1780. It was purchased in January by Victor C. Hood, who consigned it to auction, from antiques arms specialist William Guthman.
Another interesting bit of Americana was found in an American 13-star colonial flag, a homemade folk art version of the “Hopkinson Flag,” which was originally used in the 1770s. Found in an old Peterborough estate home, the flag was probably used for a play, pageant, parade or school activity. Measuring 28½ inches, it was bid to $11,400.
There was a run of New England-themed art by Granite State artists. Leading the parade was “Mount Mon at twilight, Marlboro, NH Stone Pond” by William Preston Phelps (1849-1923) at $9,000. The oil on canvas painting depicted Mount Monadnock at sunrise as seen from the old chapel on Stone Pond, Marlborough, N.H. The auction house provided a photo that showed the same view today from the same spot Phelps stood to paint the scene. The painting measured 14 by 22 inches and was set in the original gold molded frame.
Finding a buyer at $5,700 was a snowy view by Alexander Robertson James (1890-1946). The oil on canvas painting “Woodstock Hills, Vermont” was noted as such by a label on reverse. It was 26 by 32 inches and been lined and cleaned and was signed lower left “Alexander R. James 1917.”
Another Phelps painting, this one a pastoral landscape with sheep in the foreground and Mount Monadnock in the distance, was signed lower left, “W.P. Phelps.” At 18 by 30 inches, it was set in what appeared to be the original gold molded frame and came from an Old Wilton Center, N.H., collection. It left the gallery at $4,800.
Dogs had their day in a Nineteenth Century American or Scottish School oil painting of six hunting dogs resting on a hilltop with heather below. It sold for $11,400, measured 24 by 30 inches and was set in a gold molded frame bearing the label, “Newcomb-Macklin Co, New York.”
And for those in search of Cape Cod sensibilities, Anthony Thieme’s (1888-1954) oil on canvas painting of a Rockport area dock scene filled the bill for $3,900. It had an estate stamp on rear stretcher and measured 30 by 36 inches, set in the original gold molded frame with a “McClees Gallery” label on stretcher.
No sale at The Cobbs takes place without at least a smattering of period furniture, and this auction had a couple of choice pieces among the highlights. One was a tiger maple Queen Anne highboy of a small size, the top section of which had bold tiger maple molding over two side-by-side lipped drawers over three graduated drawers. The bottom section presented equally bold tiger maple molding over two side-by-side drawers over three drawers over a shaped apron supported by four cabriole legs ending in pad feet. Standing just 67 inches tall and possibly of southern New England origin, the case piece was deemed by the auction house as “some of the best tiger maple we have seen” and it finished at $4,800.
Also catching bidders’ attention was an Eighteenth Century yellow pine corner cupboard that surprised by taking $4,500 against a $600/900 estimate. The one-piece cupboard featured a 15-pane single top door, scalloped shelves over a double raised panel door below, flanked on the cant with fluted pilasters. English or possibly Southern, the 72½-inch-tall cupboard came out of a Pennsylvania estate collection.
The silver category was led by a “Stieff” sterling silver flatware service weighing in at 100.2 troy ounces and going out at $3,240.
Additional items that surprised included a lot comprising 12 Asian small ceramic, wooden and glass items and three pieces of Nineteenth Century table items that outperformed its $300/500 estimate to bring $3,900. Included in the lot was a 3½-inch diameter covered box, 6-inch-tall tea caddy, 3½-inch cubed teapot, four sake cups, four snuff bottles and a carved wooden scroll with seven heads.
A further miscellaneous lot included a “Hood Tires” advertisement, a metal red coat conductor shaped sign, a metal double-sided wall sign and a 1919 Literary Digest advertising page. Estimated $300/500, it all added up to $3,240 for the buyer.
Prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. For information, 603-924-6361 or www.thecobbs.com.
September 26, 2023
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