Published: September 1, 2020
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Photos Courtesy Blackwood/March Auctioneers
ESSEX, MASS. – Cape Ann and New England artists, past and present, took center stage at Blackwood/March Auctioneer’s August 20 sale of fine art and antiques. Many artists in the sale were represented with multiple examples of their work, offering numerous opportunities for collectors and dealers alike. The sale of 220 lots was offered online on Invaluable and was about 83 percent sold, with a cumulative sale total of approximately $46,000. It was the first sale for the house in the Covid-era and by-appointment only previews spanned a two-week period. With state and CDC guidelines making in-person bidding impossible, Blackwood/March reported about 1,300 registered online bidders, a significant increase from the 50 to 70 people the firm has previously recorded in-house for their twice-yearly sales.
“As a rule, we usually sell 30-40 percent online but buyers in this sale were 90 percent online with the rest going to absentee and phone bidders,” Michael March said, speaking with Antiques and The Arts Weekly a few days after the sale closed. “We were nervous as cats before the sale because we didn’t know how things would play out, but we were quite happy in the end. Most of the people who were interested in the Cape Ann paintings were able to participate.”
Bidders cooled off on a hot summer day with two snowy landscapes by Aldro Thompson Hibbard (American, 1886-1972), who worked extensively in both Vermont and Massachusetts. Leading the sale was his “Ice Stream,” which sold to a Boston-area private collector – who had previewed the sale by appointment – for $5,658 in an online bid against an estimate of $3/5,000. Hibbard’s other painting – “Vermont Farm” -closed at $2,596.
March said the surprise of the day came with a painted wood carving by Alfred Czerepak (American, 1928-1986) depicting fisherman mending nets that finished at $4,428 from a private collector who prevailed against another private collector. “Few carvings have brought that much,” March said. It was one of three works by the Massachusetts artist in the sale and all were from the same seller. Another carving titled “Our Lady of Good Voyage” sailed to $1,888. The third work by the artist was “Gypsy Caravan,” an oil on canvas that finished at $354.
Otis Cook (American, 1900-1980) spent much of his life in Rockport, Mass., with Cape Ann being a favorite subject. An oil on canvas harbor scene by Cook sailed to $1,416, while a sleepy landscape of a Rockport street finished at $1,062.
The artist with the largest representation was Russian-born Helen Stein (Russian American, 1896-1964), who was active in the art communities of Rockport and Gloucester, Mass., late in her career. The 42 lots in the sale by Stein were from one seller who had purchased from the artist’s estate and were largely portraits, landscapes and still life pictures, primarily oil on canvas or board with one or two examples in watercolor or pencil. Prices ran the gamut from $944 for “Calliope” and a still life with guitar, down to $59 each for several works. “She was a friend of Marsden Hartley and is more modernist than I usually sell but it was fun to have these,” March said. He noted that many of the buyers of her paintings were from New York City and Boston.
The sale featured seven works by Arnold Knauth (American, 1918-2017) – three harbor scenes and four snowscapes – all from the same collector who had acquired them from the artist. “There were some bargains to be had there,” March said of the results, which ranged from $325 to $708.
Three of four works by Louis Kronberg (American, 1872-1965) featured the ballet dancers he frequently depicted, and sold for prices ranging from $1,180 to $472, with the fourth – a portrait of a lady – knocking down for $295.
Though the sale was primarily focused on fine art, it did include some modest offerings of decorative arts. A Nineteenth Century octagonal sailor’s valentine brought $472; a group of 75 mostly West British lead soldiers, knights and other figures garnered $177 and an archaic-style Chinese bronze vase topped off at $177.
Blackwood/March Auctions’ next sale has yet to be scheduled but will probably take place in January.
Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house.
Blackwood/March Auctioneers is at 3 Southern Avenue. For information, 978-768-6943 or www.blackwoodauction.com.
September 19, 2023
September 19, 2023
September 19, 2023
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