Published: October 26, 2015
BOSTON, MASS. — Selling to a phone bidder for $303,000 at Skinner’s October 25 auction was a Boston Harbor marine painting by William Bradford (American, 1823–1892). It depicted several fully rigged sailing ships in the harbor, with the Boston skyline visible in the background. The oil on Winsor & Newton artist board was signed and dated 1859, in what was likely its original giltwood and gesso frame.
The painting was an early example of Bradford’s mature work, showing the beginnings of his explorations of Luminism. Bright yellow-orange light from the setting sun put the Boston skyline and ships in a grayscale silhouette, with a pale blue sky. The painting had been exhibited at the National Sailors’ Fair in Boston in 1864 and a little over 100 years later, in 1969, it was exhibited at the DeCordoba Museum of Art in Lincoln, Mass. The National Sailors’ Fair was a charitable event to benefit sailors disabled in the Civil War and to create a sailor’s home for those American seamen. Several active phone lines competed with a bidder in the room who, as it turned out, was the underbidder.
The sale included American silver, including a piece by Paul Revere, Jr, several pieces of early Connecticut furniture, folk art, including a whimsical painting by Ralph Cahoon; several pieces of Salem and Boston Federal period furniture and more.
A complete review of the auction will appear in an upcoming edition.
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