Published: July 24, 2007
A painting on original found cardboard of a blue cat by the Alabama freed slave folk artist Bill Traylor (1856‱947) sold for $42,550 at Slotin Auction’s sale of self-taught masterpieces and pottery May 5. The unsigned work, a vivid blue on a show card, was framed and sailed past the high estimate of $30,000.
“It is a tribute to Mr Traylor’s continuing popularity in the folk art genre that this piece commanded such a high price,” said Amy Slotin of Slotin Auction, “but it was also typical of what we experienced throughout the day. This sale really rocked. We had more record-breaking prices than ever before.” Slotin said nearly 900 lots changed hands and the sale grossed more than $863,000.
A modest crowd of about 100 people attended, but phone bidding dominated as the 12 phone lines remained lit most of the day, and most items sold to the phone. About a quarter of the lots (237 lots) sold online. Slotin reported 64,000 visitors to the online catalog.
A devil face jug by Lanier Meaders (1917‱998), previously housed in the Smithsonian Collection, soared to $16,100, a record price for the artist. The unsigned ash glaze piece, 7 inches tall, was circa 1969‱971. His rock tooth devil jug done in the early 1970s sold online for $7,935 while a grape-decorated cookie jar with lid, also early 70s, went for $5,750. An 18-inch-tall grape-decorated vase by Arie Meaders, possibly turned by Cheever Meaders, made $6,210.
Self-taught masterpieces comprised the bulk of the sale, including a 1983 signed and dated oil on canvas, “Hog Killing,” by Mattie Lou O’Kelley (a Slotin Auction favorite) that went to an in-house buyer for $27,600. Also, a house paint on rusted tin work by Sam Doyle, “Stepping Out,” fetched $11,500.
A record price was made for Sister Gertrude Morgan’s (1900‱980) colorful ink and paint on cardboard painting, “Jesus is My Airplane,” that sold to a New York phone bidder for $20,700. It had been kept in a drawer for three decades, nearly forgotten. Another Morgan work, “Self-Portrait With Sabbath Day Poem,” achieved $13,800.
A carved and painted wood piece, “Roadrunner and Rattlesnake,” circa 1984, by Felipe Archuletta, garnered $11,212. Another carved and painted work by Archuletta, titled “Mother Pig and Two Piglets,” hammered for $8,050.
Other highlights included a bottle cap construction on wood figure by Clarence Woolsey, “Blue Face Bunny,” that took $9,775, and a painted cabinet door by Ronald and Jessie Cooper, titled “Cabinet of Good and Evil” at $7,187.
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