Published: March 6, 2001
MANCHESTER, N.H. – Furniture and fine art were favorites among some 1,300 lots offered in four sales at Northeast Auctions March 3-4. From the estate of Madeline Whitney Shea on Sunday, a grisaille oil on canvas by Charles M. Russell (American, 1864-1926), “The Ford,” realized $195,000 (est $70/90,000). Initialed “C.M.R.” with a steer head lower left, the work had been offered by Kennedy Galleries, New York City, in 1958 and was illustrated in the artist’s Studies of Western Life (New York: The Albertype Co., 1890).
The Shea estate featured more than 375 lots of Eighteenth And Nineteenth Century American and English furniture, Nineteenth Century American and English paintings, Chinese furniture, silver and other decorative accessories, many examples of armorial porcelain and a large collection of Chinese Export porcelain. From the latter group, an important Chinese Export punch bowl made for the American market, featuring two vignettes of an American eagle and the inscription “In God We Hope,” reached $56,000.
Known as the John Jay Bowl, the circa 1802-06 lot measured 11 inches in diameter and was decorated with a gilt and famille rose floral border. It was originally purchased by Mrs. Shea from well-known dealer and consultant Elinor Gordon, who also acted as Shea’s adviser throughout her years of collecting. Gordon attended the sale and its previews; on Friday she gave a presentation on the Shea offerings.
Also on Sunday, a sale of nearly 300 lots of American furniture, clocks, paintings and Oriental rugs from various owners preceded the Shea collection, with a Boston Federal inlaid mahogany cylinder writing desk attributed to John and Thomas Seymour leading the event at $125,000 (est $125/175,000). Coming in close behind, a Philadelphia Chippendale carved walnut dressing table, deaccessioned by The Minneapolis Institute of Arts to benefit its acquisitions fund, fetched $105,000. Estimated at $25/35,000, the circa 1765 lot featured relief carved shell and acanthus appliques attributed to the “Garvan carver,” an anonymous tradesman active in Philadelphia during the third quarter of the Eighteenth Century.
And kicking off the weekend, a small, 14-inch-long carved and painted eagle by John Haley Bellamy (Portsmouth and Kittery, 1836-1914), estimated to bring $10/15,000, topped the 185-lot sale of the Susan and Larry Polans Folk Art Collection at $26,000 on March 3.
The eagle, unusual for its diminutive size, bears a banner inscribed with the Maine state motto, “Dirigo (I lead),” in red, white and blue paint, above its shield. “I sold it to [Mr Polans] 15 years ago,” auctioneer Ron Bourgeault told us. “It’s the smallest Bellamy eagle I’ve ever seen.” The lot was exhibited at the York Institute Museum, Saco, Me., in 1989.
Four hundred fourteen lots of American country and painted furniture, Shaker furniture and accessories, folk art, ceramics, baskets and Indian artifacts from various owners immediately following the Polans collection were highlighted by a stack of 11 Shaker finger lapped oval boxes in yellow, blue, red, green and salmon stain, ranging in size from 3.5 inches long to 15 inches long. One box carried a gift inscription “From Gertrude Soule, Eld., 1961,” and a note indicating its maker, Henry Green of the Alfred Community. The stack brought $62,500.
A full report of these auctions will appear in a future issue.
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