A life portrait of South Carolina statesman and Vice President of The United States, John C. Calhoun, achieved a healthy $333,500 during a rousing single-owner collection sale at Brunk Auctions’ February 17–18. The sale, featuring the Sally Abney Rose collection, garnered a sales total of $4.6 million for the 1,200-plus lots sold.
The oil on canvas, painted in 1847 by William Harrison Scarborough, is regarded as one of the most important works executed by the Columbia, S.C., artist, who was commissioned by many of the region’s most prominent citizens. “We were sure it would do quite well,” said auctioneer Robert Brunk, indicating there was serious interest in the work by auction time, and that the key players were people interested in South Carolina history and paintings.
According to Brunk, there was a strong sentiment among bidders to have the painting returned to South Carolina and remain there. The painting sold to the Johnson Collection, Spartanburg, S.C., with representative Harmony Haskins raising her bidding card as soon as the auctioneer asked for opening bid and not putting it down until she had claimed the lot.
Also hitting a high note during the sale was a Nineteenth Century canary-yellow Sandwich glass compote, in the princess feather and baskets of flowers pattern, that skyrocketed over its $1,5/2,500 estimate to bring $48,300. The compote carried a provenance of New York dealer Maude B. Feld and was accompanied by a letter from 1964 stating, “I know of no colored one for sale anywhere even in bad condition…it is an investment in American history.” Brunk allowed that this item might have set a new record for form and color. A complete report on the auction will appear in a future issue.—AVV