Published: May 17, 2016
By Laura Beach
MANHEIM, PENN. — Believed to be an unrecorded work by the French painter Claude Monet (1840–1926), a painting of a wooded park scene is slated for sale by Conestoga Auction Company, a division of Hess Auction Group, on Saturday, June 11.
Housed in a later gold frame, the signed oil on board measuring 6¾ by 11¼ inches depicts a man with a top hat and walking stick and a woman with a parasol and child in hand strolling along a sun-dappled allee of what may be the Parc Monceau in Paris. Conestoga expects $150/250,000 for the work, citing the sale of a Monet oil on board of comparable size and subject matter for $330,000 at the Detroit auction house DuMouchelles in April 2015. In London in 2008, Christie’s auctioned a 40-by-80-inch oil on canvas painting of a water lily pond by the Impressionist master for a record $80,549,390.
Conestoga principal Jeffrey C. DeHart discovered the Monet park scene about a month ago while cataloging the collection of Dr Morris V. Shelanski, a Philadelphia-area physician who was an avid buyer of European art, Oriental rugs and Chinese ceramics, a handful of which Freeman’s auctioned in September 2014. Conestoga is offering the 326-lot Shelanski trove as a cataloged single-owner sale on June 11. Also of note are paintings by Renoir, W.S. Staples Drown and C.E. Kuwasseg, Rembrandt etchings and Chinese rhinoceros-horn libation cups, one 24½ inches long and fully carved.
“The sale spans the gamut from Sixteenth Century oil paintings to Twentieth Century prints, all from Dr Shelanski’s large office and warehouse facility. The collection is a real time capsule,” says DeHart.
In a preface to Conestoga’s catalog, Joseph Shelanski writes that his father, now in his nineties, developed an interest in classical art while studying biochemistry at Harvard. The senior Shelanski completed his education at McGill University and served in the US Navy before embarking on a career as a pharmaceutical and toxicological consultant.
Dr Shelanski combed galleries and shops, eventually filling the large Main Line house he shares with his wife, Rita, with art and antiques. When the couple ran out of room to display the pieces, much of what they bought was stored away in boxes.
Joe Shelanski writes, “The majority of these objects have been in storage for over 40 years, many even longer, some having been packed away upon purchase. The Monet was tucked away in a box of small works, unrecognized until cataloged by the Conestoga Auction firm.”
One of five siblings, Joe Shelanski told Antiques and The Arts Weekly, “My father has been collecting for a good 65 years. He rarely bought at auction and most of the dealers who sold to him are gone. He especially loved Renaissance art. Aside from the Chinese ceramics and some American and English furniture he parted with in the early 1960s, when he was starting his own business, he has never sold anything. I don’t remember the Monet, which has a signature in light yellow that is kind of hard to see. Jeff DeHart pulled it out of a box where it had probably been for at least 30 or 40 years.”
DeHart recalled, “In going through the items, we found the small Monet oil on board. In doing my research I discovered the painting DuMouchelles sold last year. Needless to say, I was very excited. The DuMouchelles’ painting is an identical type of oil on board mounted on a subboard. Same size, same technique, but a stream scene. I’m confident in my attribution.”
Joe Shelanski says his father is unlikely to attend the sale, but is keen nonetheless. He notes, “It’s exciting for him and also a bit of a relief to have these things out of storage and passed along to another generation.”
Conestoga Auction Company and Hess Auction Group are at 768 Graystone Road.
For additional information, www.hessauctiongroup.com, 717-898-7284 or 717-664-5238.
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