Published: April 23, 2019
Review and Onsite Photos by Jackie Sideli
EAST DENNIS, MASS. – Eldred’s Auction Gallery’s spring auction of fine art, Americana, decoys and marine art, as well as many other categories, was conducted on April 5 and 6, with decoys attracting great interest and fine art offerings as the top lots.
Among the big winners was a rare, nearly life-size carving by A. Elmer Crowell (1862-1952) of a snowy egret, dating from 1930. Painted white, it was standing on a carved wooden base and measured 18½ by 15 inches. It had been purchased by the consignor’s father directly from master carver Crowell and achieved $48,000 at the sale. Another Crowell sold was the life-sized green-winged teal, in flying form, with glass eyes and carved tail feathers. Also purchased directly from Crowell, this carving sold for $16,800. A greater yellowlegs carving by Crowell, which dated from circa 1930, in running form with glass eyes and mounted on an oval painted base, measuring 9 inches, brought $8,400 early in the sale. A George Boyd (1873-1941) Canada goose decoy, Seabrook, N.H., dated, according to catalog notes, from the early Twentieth Century, had tack eyes and canvas-covered body and original paint; it brought $6,000.
The auction session kicked off with four Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) etchings, all of which also sailed past their combined $9,100/12,800 estimate to sell for a total of $40,040. Also coming in the first day’s early lots were a bronze of a couple in a winter troika by Evgenii Aleksandrovich Lanceray (1848-1886), which netted $51,000, and “Accident in a Mine,” an oil on canvas by D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930), which sold for $28,800.
Lawrence, much better-known as a writer, became a painter in his older years. This painting was included in a show of his works at the Warren Gallery in London in 1929, but many of the pieces in the show were deemed extremely controversial and were seized by the police and nearly destroyed. James Joyce and other literary contemporaries of Lawrence wrote letters condemning the destruction; Joyce’s letter accompanied this painting. “The typed note defending Lawrence’s work, signed by fellow author James Joyce, added another layer of interest to this painting,” said Annie Lajoie, the Eldred’s specialist who cataloged the lot. “We were pleased the Lawrence painting achieved this recognition and realized this price – there are virtually no auction records for his artworks.”
The top lot of the day was a portrait of a Mongolian man attributed to Alexander Yakovlev (1887-1938); it was painted circa 1918 and purchased by the consignor from the artist’s family in Paris in 1978. At 61 by 25 inches, the portrait was nearly life-size. It sold to a phone bidder for $72,000 after fierce competition from other phone, online and floor bidders.
The sale’s other top seller was a freestanding woven enameled copper wire basket by Ruth Asawa (1926-2013), which more than tripled its estimate to sell for $72,000. Dating from the 1940s, this was an early example from the artist, who is internationally recognized for these types of wire sculptures.
The cover lot was a bucolic rendition titled “Missouri Farm,” by American realist regional painter Roger Medearis (1920-2001). An egg tempera on board, the painting measured 16 by 24 inches and sold at $21,600, against an estimate of $5/10,000.
An oil on canvas painting by artist John Kelly Fitzpatrick (1888-1953) was offered on the second day of the auction; the landscape painting was found in a Massachusetts estate. It came to the block with a $3/4,000 estimate but sold at $13,200. Another painting sold later in the day was a scenic Hendrik-Dirk Kruseman Van Elten work titled “A Picnic in Westchester County.” The oil on canvas, measuring 26¾ by 41¾ inches and signed on the lower right, made $8,125. After it was hammered by the auctioneer, he said, “that’s a steal!”
A brilliantly colored view of Il Molo, Venice, painted by Robert Salmon after he left Boston around 1842, sold within estimate for $13,200, and a scene of a captain delighting over a mermaid on a swing by Ralph E. Cahoon Jr (Mass., 1910-1982), sold over estimate for $7,800.
“Almost every area of the painting and fine art market performed very well. I was very impressed with the prices on the prints and on the contemporary art pieces, particularly a Charles Green Shaw abstract that brought over $20,000,” Josh Eldred, president of Eldred’s, said. The Shaw (1892-1974) piece, a blue, red, black, yellow, white and greige composition titled “Magic Moment 1956,” sold for $21,600 on a $2,500/3,500 estimate.
The auction drew the attention of many phone bidders, a substantial number of internet customers and lots of action from the floor. Silver, which was presented the second day of the auction, included an S. Kirk & Son 11-ounce Ascot-form claret jug that realized $4,375 and the “extremely rare,” oversized, silver-plated Boston Lighthouse cocktail, which dated from 1927-29 and was marked on its base “Meriden S.P. Co International S. Company Patented Jan.1927.” The 20½-inch-tall jug, with a replaced top, sold to the internet at $2,625.
Garnering the most attention prior to the sale was a rare 1862 game board with portraits of presidents and generals published by the National Chess & Checker Board. It sold online for $2,040, a significant jump from its $200/400 estimate.
“It was a wonderfully diverse sale, and it was wonderful to see that so much of it was so well-received by a wide array of collectors” Eldred said. Prices are given with buyer’s premium, as reported by the auction house. For more information 508-385-3116 or www.eldreds.com.
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