Published: April 28, 2020
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Catalog Photos Courtesy Carlsen Gallery, Inc.
FREEHOLD, N.Y. – Carlsen Gallery, Inc.’s “March Madness” sale had originally been scheduled to take place March 29 when the coronavirus necessitated that the sale be postponed until Sunday, April 19. An announcement on Carlsen’s website stated that for the first time in 35 years, the sale would take place without an in-house audience, that previews were by appointment only, and that only internet or absentee bids would be accepted. When Antiques and The Arts Weekly reached Russ Carlsen after the sale, he said he and his wife, Abby had a Zoom chatroom from the gallery with staffers, who were relaying bids from the safety of their own homes. The house noted a significant boost in internet traffic, with about 1,400 bidders registered on LiveAuctioneers, and about another 800 bidders registered on Invaluable.
“I want to thank all of our customers, who were incredibly patient and understanding that we are in unchartered waters. We are very happy with the results.” Carlsen said. The sale of mostly estate property had 401 lots, which Carlsen acknowledged was large for the firm, and found buyers for all but eight lots, totaling just shy of $300,000. Carlsen attributed the success in part to the long preview period, saying that the sale had been set up before March 29 so bidders had plenty of time to come and see things.
Fine art was the undisputed leading category of the auction. Bringing the high mark in the sale was a painting of children sliding down a haystack by Charles Courtney Curran that exceeded expectations to bring $22,230. “It was a terrific painting,” Carlsen said, confirming that a private collector had prevailed over a trade bidder. About the second highest priced lot in the sale, a landscape attributed to the school of Thomas Cole, Carlsen said, “It was wild. It took five or six minutes to sell,” ultimately coming down to a battle between two out-of-state private collectors.
“We had a lot of international buyers. The Indian watercolors and Oriental woodblocks created a lot of interest, as did the Italian watercolors,” Carlsen commented, referring in particular to a group of four watercolor portraits of dignitaries that made $1,989 ($300/600), a Japanese woodblock print by Yoshitoshi (1839-1892) that finished in third place at $11,115 ($4/8,000) and a view of Capri in gouache by Gioacchino Lapira (1839-1870) that made $5,850 ($500-$1,000).
Carlsen said he has enough material in storage for another sale but he has not yet scheduled it. Stay tuned!
Carlsen Gallery, Inc., is at 9931 NY-32. For information, www.carlsengallery.com or 518-634-2466.
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