Published: May 15, 2007
A Gloucester Harbor oil on canvas scene by Carl W. Peters was dispatched easily at the March 20, 2007, Blackwood/March sale when a phone bidder opened it at $10,350, forestalling any other activity. The picture, which was estimated at $4/6,000, came from the artist’s estate.
Auctioneer Michael March has established himself as a reliable source of Cape Ann art. This sale was no exception. It was drawn from a Rockport estate and from artists’ estates, which accounts for especially fresh quality of the material.
Another Gloucester view, Emile Gruppe’s “Fog, Gloucester,” sold to an area dealer in the room for $8,395. The Gruppe family was also represented by his son Robert Gruppe’s oil on canvas view of Waterville, Vt., that brought $575, and by a watercolor harbor scene by his sister, Virginia Gruppe, that drew $230.
A signed oil on canvas autumn landscape by Antonio Cirino was another picture of interest that sold for $6,440. The painting came from a Connecticut dealer who bought it at a Rockport Art Association auction.
One exception to the Cape Ann prevalence was Ludwig Bemelmans’ oil on board, “Antibes,” that was powerfully vibrant and generated lots of interest. Dedham, Mass., auctioneer Michael B. Grogan outlasted all competition and took it for $3,560. He said he intends to keep it. Grogan also went home with a 9-by-12-foot Turkish carpet for which he paid $4,485, outlasting the rug trade in the room.
Marguerite S. Pearson’s 1932 oil on board, “Garden by the Sea,” brought $3,450.
A particularly charming oil on canvas beach scene with a little blonde boy splashing in the shallows by Gloucester and Cambridge artist Marian Williams Steele brought a strong $1,380. The price may be a record.
An oil on board portrait of a woman, “Head,” by Boston artist Edna Hibel bore a Fogg Art Museum label on the back and sold in the gallery for $2,300.
An Impressionist cottage scene was signed indistinctly and was in poor condition but still commanded $1,380. Speaking after the sale, March said the picture looked French to him. It went to a pleased Salem, Mass., dealer.
When March announced that the sale included the last part of the estate paintings of Boston area artist Ben Paulekas, some in the audience applauded. March has sold about 30 Paulekas pictures from the artist’s estate in each of his last ten sales.
Not everyone appreciates the artist’s unusual use of color and mood. Others bid, however, and several bidders took several Paulekas pictures. Their confidence won’t be misplaced. Like many of the previously obscure artists’ work that Blackwood March has sold over the years, these are bound to increase in value.
The top lot was a vivid depiction of a house along the shore with the dunes and Provincetown in the background that brought $432. A foggy harbor scene with fishing boats sold for $403. The prices reflect the burgeoning market for the work of recently dead emerging artists, noted March. His sales offer bidders an opportunity to acquire work by profoundly talented, but not well-known artists for under $500. It wasn’t all that long ago that March was selling Gruppe pictures for that.
March has also been selling estate work by Russ Webster in a number of his sales in recent years. Webster painted frequently with Emile Gruppe and his work bears a strong resemblance to Gruppe’s. A Vermont landscape by Webster sold for $431 and a harbor scene was $403. Webster’s work is worth watching in the market.
Another artist whose estate works March is selling is Cape Cod and Cape Ann artist George Bowman, whose oil on canvas, “Wading by the Sea,” sold for $863 while his “Back Creek” a view of marsh was $805.
A drawing by Massachusetts born illustrator Harrison Cady, “Houses⁃harlestown, 1930” attracted interest and brought $1,208.
An oil on canvas view of Rockport Harbor by Arthur E. Ward was $1,115; his “Rockport Harbor” was $983. “Island Dock, Casco Bay” by Alice James was $978 and her Rockport harbor scene was $863.
A portrait of an “Old Salt” by Earnest DeNagy depicted a man of great character and sold to the trade for $403 and watercolor view of boats at a dock by John A. Cook realized $575.
A watercolor view of Half Moon Beach in Gloucester that was attributed to John B. Foster brought $460. Fosters’ small (6½ by 10 inches) watercolor of a dory on a beach brought $173, as did a clean watercolor of a harbor that was attributed to Foster.
A phone bidder took a Venetian view that was signed “K. Wagner” for $863 and a watercolor landscape with horses by Hiroshi Yoshida realized $523. A Japanese woodblock image of a Kabuki actor went for $121. A Stow Wengenroth lithograph of a snowy owl garnered $661 and Wengenroth’s artist proof of downy woodpeckers was $489.
A library of more than 100 ornithological books that included such works as The Herons of the World, Audubon Eastern Land Birds, The Birds of Arizona and Birds of the Boston Public Garden sold for $489. A framed 1762 map of the Western Hemisphere sold for $230.
A pretty Massachusetts Federal mahogany stand with a graceful serpentine-shaped top brought $2,875 from a bidder on the phone.
An 8-inch Chelsea brass cased ships clock brought $2,415.
A classical carved mahogany sofa in red velvet upholstery came from a Rockport house and sold for $345, while a classical mahogany drop leaf table elicited $230. A pine blanket chest on spool legs sold for $230 and two nice Victorian walnut stands, each with a marble top, represented very good buys for the bidder, who took them for $147 and $115.
A Rookwood vase with a vellum glaze over a landscape was signed. From an Essex estate, it sold for $1,495. Another Rookwood vase in olive green brought $144. A Rookwood covered jar fetched $230 and a 2- or 3-inch inch pair of Roseville candlesticks fetched $75.
A box lot of a Chinese Export porcelain tea service fetched $345 and a lot of about ten miniature bisque head dolls was $317. A lot of pink luster cups and saucers, along with a copper luster mug, drew minimal interest and sold for $12. An early Wilton carpet that measured 15 by 15 feet sold to the phones for $288 and a Japanese kimono realized $230.
A small Nineteenth Century Chinese carved ivory sewing etui was a reasonable $58.
All prices reported include the 15 percent buyer’s premium. For more information, 978-768-6943 or www.blackwoodauction.com .
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