Published: March 2, 2010
Estate-fresh merchandise wooed the capacity crowds during the first sale of the 2010 auction season at Thomaston Place Auction Galleries over the weekend of February 6 and 7. The two-day sale, filled to the brim with quality Americana and highlighted by a select offering of paintings, saw solid prices posted across the board.
Auctioneer Kaja Veilleux welcomed the crowd and extolled the virtues of the merchandise about to be offered. Among the assortment was a selection of early American furniture and artwork from the estate of Barbara Bel Geddes, along with a collection of 200 pieces of “incredible decorator furniture and accessories” from a Northwest Harbor estate.
Artwork ranged from rare and desirable pieces, such as an Andrew Wyeth gouache, to a selection of known American masters, such as John Twachtman, Ralph Blakelock and Thomas Sully, as well as some lesser known, although still highly desirable, Russian and Continental artists.
Veilleux checked his team, making sure phone bidders were on the lines as the first lot was offered, a nice set of three Jewel skater’s lamps with unusual colored shade in blue. Bidding on the lot opened quickly at $150 and concluded moments later for $521.
The second lot of the auction saw spirited bidding from the crowd as a mocha pepper pot in an earthworm decoration was offered. Veilleux commented that the rare piece had been discovered on a shelf in the back of a pantry closet. The lot opened at $510, with several chasing it on its way to a selling price of $1,092, going to a telephone bidder.
Veilleux commented that he liked to keep spirits high right from the outset of his auctions, thus the offering of a large number of “fun” lots in the beginning. One lot that elicited its fair share of chuckles was a “family” of five folk art carved wooden penguins that ranged in height from about 8 inches tall to just over a foot tall. Asking for $200, numerous hands shot into the air and bids bounced back and forth about the gallery. Veilleux smiled as the lot hit $1,265.
Other colorful painted items included a child’s wagon in superb original condition with excellent red paint that sold at $1,265, a pair of paint decorated sleds that brought $1,265, and a neat child’s cottage pine dresser retaining the original excellent paint, which sold reasonably for $488.
It was not long before the fireworks began as lot 21, a rare Maine paint decorated tapered leg stand in a bright yellow paint, was offered. Thomaston had sold a similar stand in its August auction last summer for a premium price, but this one, according to Veilleux, was superior. In a chrome yellow overall coloration, with a slightly mellowed top accentuated by a band of red and green ticking around the perimeter, the stand was exquisite.
Estimated at $3/5,000, Veilleux asked for an opening bid of $2,000 and he got it in several places in the gallery, as well as with the eight phone bidders that were lined up for action.
Last year, after Veilleux hammered down the stand in yellow paint for a premium price, he commented, “If anyone has any yellow stands to consign, please give me a call.” Consigned from a Belfast, Maine, home, perhaps in response to Veilleux’s invitation, the stand opened for bidding at $2,000, with a bidder standing in the rear corner of the room being one of many to hold up his bid card. A row of telephone bidders tried to get in the action, but it came down to just two players as the price escalated; the man in the rear and a single telephone. Bids bounced back and forth with the gent in the room finally claiming the lot at $24,150. As Veilleux called his bid number out, he remarked, “The man that bought it is becoming a specialist,” an inside joke as the buyer also purchased the yellow stand sold back in August.
Never one to miss out on an opportunity, and perhaps hoping lightning would strike twice, Veilleux waited for the crowd to settle down and then remarked, “If anyone has a yellow stand of this caliber, we will be happy to sell it for you.”
Two lots later a Windsor rocker in bright yellow paint with a decorated crest crossed the block. Little interest was received and it sold well below estimate at $546. Veilleux quipped, to the amusement of the crowd, “Don’t call me if you have rockers.”
An American cherry Chippendale chest-on-chest in a wonderful old finish did well, selling at $6,500. The case piece had been gifted to the Church of St Mary The Virgin, where it had been in use for many years. Sold to benefit the coffers, the chest was a handsome example.
An attractive bonnet top highboy with broken arch pediment, with two replaced drawers and the finial missing, sold between estimates at $3,737.
A country Chippendale secretary desk went reasonably. On a nice Hepplewhite-style bracket base and with two blind doors above, the piece retained an old black finish. Perhaps used in a country store at one point, the slant lid had the word “paint” distinguishable beneath the existing finish. The lot opened at $2,000 and despite Veilleux’s best efforts, finished at $2,530.
Paintings highlighted the session, with a work by Russian artist Alexandre Evgenievich Iacovleff attracting a great deal of interest. “Kurds Near Kandahar,” measuring 23 by 59 inches, had been consigned from a Boston home that contained numerous pieces of artwork. Veilleux took time to talk about the painting while the final few phone bidders, mostly international clients, were readied. Veilleux explained that he went into the home and found “half of the painting in one part of the house and half of the painting in another part of the house.” Apparently at some point there was simply not enough room for the painting to be displayed in its original size, so it was cut it in half and turned into two paintings.
Veilleux had the paintings rejoined by relining it and retouching the joint. Nine telephone bidders were lined up for action as the auctioneer asked for an opening bid of $20,000. He got it right away and, moving briskly in $1,000 increments, the lot was off to the races. At $50,000 several bidders were still active and the auctioneer increased the bids to $5,000. The action did not slow at all, moving along at a steady pace until selling at $175,030, repatriated to Russia.
A painting consigned on one of the gallery’s well-known free appraisal days was in fine original condition and, though still an attractive work, Veilleux highly recommended a professional cleaning. “Church St Rocco, Venice” by Rubens Santoro, an attractive canal scene with boats in front of the majestic church, did well, bringing $37,500.
An oil on canvas, ” H.M. Clyde at Battle with French Frigate Vestale of Gironde, August 20, 1799,” by Derek G.M. Gardner opened for bidding at $10,000 and finished moments later at $43,125.
A small scene of a house in the snow, a gouache by Andrew Wyeth, possibly painted as a Christmas card and inscribed on the reverse “Greetings and our love, Guess Who?,” was offered. Estimated at $10/15,000, Veilleux called he piece a “gem of a picture” and then proceeded to sell it at $14,195 to a buyer in the room.
Other paintings by American artists included a nice Twachtman, “Haystacks Between Road and River,” measuring 10 by 14 inches. The attractive scene, one of several consigned from a local Blue Hills estate, exceeded estimates, selling at $18,240.
“Rock Formation at Narragansett” by William Haseltine doubled the resale estimate as it realized $6,900. A warm oil on canvas by Blakelock titled “A View of the Lake with Warrior in Canoe Approaching Indian Village” retained the artist’s inventory label and sold at $6,325, and a Thomas Sully picture, “Lady Preparing To Bathe,” brought $4,600.
Another of the lots to attract a serious amount of interest was a rare platinum print photo album containing 100 Western theme images. Dated 1899 and titled Pueblo †Taos to Isleta , this book was part of a series of 16 volumes complied by Andrew Clark Vroman and was bound by Kingsley, Barnes and Neuner. The 6-by-8-inch images were printed on 9-by-12-inch sheets and were hand numbered and pencil signed by Vroman.
Depicting 13 individual portraits, four images of Native American villages and encampments, the images were gathered while Vroman was under contract by the government.
Discovered among the materials consigned from the Blue Hills estate, the lot carried an aggressive $50/75,000 presale estimate, which it did not meet, selling at $54,625.
Jewelry led day two of the auction, with a diamond and tourmaline necklace attracting serious interest, selling at $21,275. A platinum ring with a single brilliant-cut diamond weighing almost 4 carats sold for $20,400, while a diamond brooch in the form of a dragonfly with sapphire eyes and pink tourmaline insets realized $13,800.
A Gorham sterling flatware service for 12 consisting of 176 pieces in the Mythologique pattern did well, selling at $12,075, while a 129-piece Gorham service in the Buttercup pattern brought only $1,955.
Art sold on the second day included a chromolithograph “View of Richmond” by F. Palmer that realized $8,625, a bronze sculpture titled “Gato” by Angel Bottelo that sold at the low estimate of $6,900, and an ink and watercolor by Ludwig Bemelmans of “Madelyn” that made $2,875.
Smalls included a pair of painted tin candle sconces with cutouts of a drum and French flags that sold for $3,565, while a gilt bronze Tiffany lamp base brought $1,955.
Price include the buyer’s premium charged. For further information 207-354-8141 or www.thomastonauction.com .
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