Published: December 20, 2011
At 15 years and now a fixture on the Boston calendar, the Boston International Fine Arts Show (BIFAS) brings 40 select dealers to town each fall. This year’s event, November 17′0, delivered an especially focused group of attendees †along with a group of museum curators and other officers. While the gate was not up much over last year, interest and sales were. The preview party, which benefited the Greater Boston Food Bank, was festive, and a number of dealers observed the presence of unusually knowledgeable visitors.
Organized by Tony Fusco and Bob Four of Boston, and coming on the heels of their successful reincarnation of the Ellis Boston Antiques Show, the show was well-tailored and advertised in all the right places. Lectures and a new collector’s night rounded out the activity.
Principle Gallery came from Arlington, Va., with an arresting selection of paintings by Geoffrey Johnson, who creates evocative images with misty and usually monochromatic compositions of abstract figures in cityscapes, usually New York. Three sold during the show, including one that gallery staff installed in a Beacon Hill home on Sunday. Two more sold after the event to Boston collectors who saw them at the show. Work by Larry Preston and Douglas Fryer sold, also, for a total of seven sales, so far.
Newport, R.I., gallery Vareika Fine Arts premiered a monumental pair of historic paintings by John LaFarge, “The Virgin” and “St John the Evangelist at the Foot of the Cross.” The pair had not been seen in many years and attracted lots of attention, institutional and otherwise. Painted on 95½-by-29½-inch mahogany panels, the paintings are part of a crucifixion triptych commissioned in 1852 for the 1840 St Peter’s Church in downtown Manhattan, but never installed. They were purchased by William Collins Whitney in 1884 and remained in the Whitney family until Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney gave them to the Whitney Museum in 1931. The Whitney deaccessioned them in 1950 and sold them to Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney for his home in Spain, where they hung until 1983 when they were acquired by his Madrid decorator, Duarte Pinto Coehlo.
After Coehlo died last year, his estate was sold in a country house sale in London where they were acquired by Vareika, who brought them back to the United States and conserved them. While they did not sell in their first public appearance back in the United States, Vareika reported that he sold a William Trost Richards view with a lighthouse and had a follow-up sale of a James Buttersworth to a Boston buyer.
Boston’s Martha Richardson Fine Art had a dandy show. She sold a group of six Alexander Brook paintings, “Going, Going, Gone,” to an area institution. Richardson also sold “Moonrise, Essex, Massachusetts” by American Impressionist John Leslie Breck to a Boston area collector, a Charles Hovey Pepper to a Boston collector and a Max Kuehne, among several other sales. Two Harry Bertoia metal sculptures, “Bush Form I” and “Bush Form II,” attracted attention, as did “Zinnias and Petunias” by Lillian Burk Meeser and “Woman Combing Her Hair” by Robert Philipp.
Newman Galleries showed two large early Twentieth Century portraits by the German-born Philadelphia artist Carl Newman, a self-portrait with a dog and “Helene and Bos,” a portrait of his wife with the same dog.
Salem’s Marine Arts Gallery showed a portrait of the tug Robert E. Petty by Antonio Jacobsen, an Emile Gruppe view of Motif Number One in Rockport and “Perfect Day,” a charming beach scene with children in white and a mostly white dog by Richard K. Loud. The gallery also showed “Beach Rocks, Back of the Island Tanners Pass, Nova Scotia” by Canadian artist Jack L. Gray; a Rockport snow scene by Aldro T. Hibbard, a ship’s portrait by William H. Yorke and work by Frank Vining Smith, among an enviable selection.
Pierce Galleries of Hingham and Nantucket gave pride of place to Lilian Westcott Hale’s (1881‱963) sweet 1924 portrait of the young Miss Katherine Sawyer. Jane Peterson’s oil on paper scene “Figures Along A Venetian Canal, Summer,” from about 1903‱909, is a bolder execution than many of her earlier works. It hung above Maurice Prendergast’s circa 1910‱913 watercolor “Autumn View.”
New York City gallery Arcadia Fine Arts filled a wall with evocative silver gelatin prints by New York area artist Jefferson Hayman, whose tonalist “Nyack Hat” in a tramp art frame held center stage. Other work included still life and landscape images, all in antique frames or frames made by the artist.
From Madrid, Spain, Galeria-Quorum brought a selection of vivid works by Carmen Moreno Clavero that drew visitors, while another international presence, Gladwell & Company of London, brought some of the traditional Nineteenth and Twentieth Century works of which it is a reliable resource. The gallery showed paintings by Alexandre Louis Jacob, Francois de Montholon and Alfred de Breanski.
Gallery Antonia of Chatham, Mass., showed an interesting group of vibrant botanical oil on canvas works with graphite, gold leaf and wax by Cape artist Anne Salas.
Clarke Gallery of Newburyport, Mass., showed “Moon Glow” by Soren Emil Carlson, “Fall Day, Old Lyme, Conn.” by Wilson Henry Irvine and a 1930 portrait by William Henry Johnson. The gallery also showed recent work on paper by Karen Clarke.
Now celebrating 170 years in business, Vose Galleries of Boston had a double booth, one for traditional work and the other for contemporary pieces. Aldro Thompson Hibbard’s 1930 snow scene “West River Valley at West Townshend, Vermont” hung with “End of a Winter’s Day” by Robert Emmett Owen and J. Jeffrey Grant’s “Painting on the Docks, Gloucester, Mass.” “Affinity,” a 2011 oil on wood panel juxtaposition of a pair of scissors and a bird’s beak by Maine artist John Whalley, was for sale, along with Warren Prosperi’s 2011 “Ekphrasis II.”
Brick Walk Fine Art of West Hartford, Conn., mounted a solo show of work by Long Island, N.Y., artist Robert Harms to coincide with the gallery’s recent publication of a handsome monograph on the artist. The booth walls were hung with the artist’s abstract pastel and watercolor works†it was an arresting display. Three sales so far. Kevin Rita wrote in an email after the show that the gallery will offer a different solo show at next year’s event.
Susanna J. Fichera Fine Art of Arlington, Mass., and Bowdoinham, Maine, was pleased with the results of the show. Three pictures sold during the show and a chance meeting with old friends led to the sale of another. Fichera also expressed pleasure that the proceeds of the preview party benefited the Greater Boston Food Bank.
Portland, Maine, dealer Tom Veilleux showed the Jamie Wyeth 1975 watercolor “Silo and Angus” and Lilian Westcott Hale’s circa 1907 charcoal drawing “The Burnous [sic]⁐ortrait of Zeffie.” Veilleux had a selection of works by Elie Nadelman, including a ceramic figural group, “Two Women,” and the marble “Woman’s Head.” There was also the charcoal drawing “Reclining Figure” by John Singer Sargent.
New York City dealer Debra Force Fine Art showed her Boston audience a fine Margarett W. Sargent painting, “After Dinner, Paris.” Sargent was a renowned Boston artist whose Modernist work was exhibited widely in the 1920s and 1930s.
Avery Galleries of Bryn Mawr, Penn., and New York City had two works by Pennsylvania Impressionist John Pierce Barnes, “The Old Mill” and “Home in the Woods,” next to a festive street scene by Philadelphia Ten and Provincetown artist Nancy Maybin Ferguson. The gallery also showed Boston artist Lilian Westcott Hale’s charcoal drawing of a pensive child, “Black Eyed Susans,” and “Paris, Nocturne” by Alfred Maurer.
For additional information, www.fineartboston.com or 617-363-0405.
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