ROCKPORT, ME. – An outstanding sporting painting of hunting dogs on a country road by the uncontested American master of this genre, Percival Leonard Rosseau, took top honors at Julia’s Samoset Sale in Rockport, Me., on August 23.
The painting, which dated to 1922, had descended from the original purchaser through the estate of Doris McGlaughlin. The signed and dated 30 by 40 inch oil on canvas came on the block in a period gold gilt frame and reached a final price of $57,500.
Good paintings in a variety of genres were the strength of this annual sale that signals the end of summer along the coast of Maine. Over 150 listed artists were represented by oils, etchings, watercolors, and drawings, many of them well-known names in the history of American art. Among the most desirable for sheer skill were two exquisite oils by Abbott Fuller Graves. The first to be sold was entitled “French Fisherman,” a jewel of a picture that exceeded the $20/25,000 estimate when it sold for $32,200. A few minutes later, Graves’ “On the Canal” fetched $23,000. Both paintings measured 12 ½ by 15 ½ inches and came on the block in good, gold-decorated molded frames.
A signed oil on canvas by Anthony Thieme of Boston Harbor with a view of the Custom House was also a fine piece of work and sold for $17,250. The best of a good selection of work by Emile Gruppe was an oil on canvas entitled “Morning-Gloucester, Mass.” It topped the estimate when it sold for $12,650.
Not all the paintings offered were coastal imagery. An excellent autumnal western landscape by Fremont Ellis depicted adobe buildings at the base of a rock and a river winding through a mountainous landscape. This picture left the $8/12,000 estimate in the dust when it sold for $21,850. A small oil on panel by Howard Pyle entitled “Sorrow” was a symbolic picture in a medieval mood in which a dark robed figure taps the shoulder of a jester. This image was an illustration of a story in Harper’s Monthly Magazine in 1903 and sold at this sale for $17,250. A signed oil on panel by Frederick Remington measured a mere 5 ½ by 12 inches but managed to pack in a long-horned cattle, figures, and covered wagons. This gem went out at $13,225. Art Sarnoff, another Western artist, was represented by a large oil on canvas of Plains Indians that brought a final price of $5,175.
In addition to the five figure prices mentioned above, middle market collectors also found a wide selection of buying opportunities, most of them celebrating the seasons and scenery of coastal New England. A nice impressionistic Max Kuehne oil on board with the well-known Motif #1 in Rockport, Mass., in the background had once been in the artist’s estate and sold for $3,162. An excellent oil on canvas by David D. Thimgan, A.S.M.A. depicted a two-masted sailboat steering up a quiet waterway. It doubled the estimated $ ½,500 when it sold for $4,082. A signed oil on canvas of a wharf scene by Paul Strisik entitled “Gloucester” brought $4,600. A fine oil on canvas study by Stephen Etnier of children at the shore watching a boat race was signed and dated 1955. It brought $5,175.
“Mt. Desert Island” was a shimmering example of Gustave Wiegand’s work. This 23 by 29 inch oil on canvas was exhibited at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in 1948 and sold for a very reasonable $5,750. A crisp and classic winter scene of “Bald Mountain Brook at Jamaica, Vt.” by Aldro Thompson Hibbard was a good buy at $8,050. Another winter scene entitled “December Along the Creek” was by Charles Gruppe and sold for $6,900. Many other good paintings sold in the $1/5,000 range.
Marine art was popular and included several fine paintings and ship models. Antonio Jacobsen’s signed portrait of the “M.P. Connelly” featured four masts, four flags, and four people on deck. It sold for $10,925. A large, unsigned oil on canvas depicting the death of Lord Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar (1805) was in very good condition and sold for $9,200. A primitive ship’s portrait (ship’s name illegible) featured a Sewall family provenance and sold for $5,290. Among the marine art, an unusual “cityscape” entitled “East River” by Roger Desoutter featured a brig, tug and the J.S. Warden with the Brooklyn Bridge in the background. It sold for $2,127. A small pencil sketch of a schooner by George Bellows was a rare find and went out at $1,150.
Ship models included a 1931 model of the Norwegian Lansing in a fancy floor case. It came on the block in excellent condition and sold for $5,462. Another circa 1930-1940 model made in Norway celebrated the three-masted barquentine Saga Marastal and also came in a brass-trimmed floor case. It fetched $4,312. A fine contemporary ship model entitled “Harbor Mooring” by William P. Hitchcock brought $2,300 and nice diorama of the team tug Turus complete with wharf, houses, dock, and row boat went out at $2,386. Fine pond yachts like the one that stood 50 inches high and featured a painted hull with brass fittings ($2,875) found eager buyers. A scrimshaw and polychrome whale tooth sold for $2,127.
The auction presented a group of 11 rdf_Descriptions by the late Carl Peterson (1869-1969) of St James, Minn., who lived to his 100th year and, over time, used his craftsman’s skills to create a peculiar menagerie. Among his concrete and steel sculpture selling at this sale was an eagle with a wing spread of eight feet six inches ($9,200), a life-size alligator($6,325), and a pair of hyenas ($5,750). Less rustic but also a skillful example of folk art was the wonderful carved wooden bird tree by Harry Ross. The 40-inch high tree featured eight life-like species of colorful birds and sold for $3,335.
Speaking of birds and folk art, a nice rooster weathervane standing 24 inches high was a good buy at $3,162. The cast iron trotting horse weathervane attributed to the Rochester, New Hampshire, Ironworks was another story. It galloped away from the $5/10,000 estimate and reached a final price of $17,250. Two highly desirable folk art paintings also sold, both depicting charming children and animals. A restored portrait of young William Watts on his rocking horse (circa 1842) sold for $14,375, a double portrait of boy, girl, and dog was well-documented and went out at $13,800.
Country furniture included a two-piece Eighteenth Century pine corner cupboard. This piece featured traces of old red paint and tow large dovetailed drawers. It sold for $4,600. An American Twentieth century cherry Queen Anne Welch two-part pewter dresser was in excellent condition and brought $2,875 while nice Queen Anne cherry drop leaf table with cabriole legs went out at $1,150. A rare chance to own a good piece of Scandinavian country furniture presented itself in the form of a painted and decorated single door clothes closet. This charming piece stood 63 ½ inches high and fetched a final price of $1,035. However, most of the country furniture was all-America. A good, primitive Eighteenth Century corner cupboard in diminutive dimensions brought $2,127, a George II Queen Anne three-drawer lowboy sold for $2,645, and early step back cupboard in old red paint came on the block in “as found” condition and exceeded the estimated $1,5/2,500 when it sold for $3,450. Several high style pieces also sold, including the large inlaid mahogany Chippendale breakfront with butler’s desk. This impressive piece brought $17,250.
Among the selection of Victorian furniture, a fabulous ornately carved rococo dining room set by Berkey and Gay was also a very good buy at $17,250. This lot included a mirror back sideboard, a china cabinet, a table with four leaves, and eight chairs with Queen Anne/Chippendale features.
Fine furnishings offered at this auction included an outstanding girandole Federal mirror with large spread eagle and two coiled snakes. This spectacular piece featured a gilt surface and sold for $10,350. Many good clocks sold under $5,000, such as the English tall clock by Richard Steventon, Frayton, housed in a Walter H. Durfee case 9$3,450) and a satisfyingly simple Howard No. 70 oak wall clock with the dial inscription “Board of Education New York” ($1,380). Furnishings also included some country smalls like the 20-inch blue Shaker-style covered firkin ($3,162) and a swing-handled Nantucket basket by Ferdinand Sylvar ($1,552).
In the summer of 1999, Julia sold the eclectic contents of Robert Lang estate, a monumental collection of collections which required seven separate auctions to sell and grossed 45 million. Earlier this year, Mrs Lang passed away and once again Jim Julia was entrusted with the remainder of the estate. This year’s Samoset ale included Mrs Lang’s fabulous jewelry collection being sold for the Robert Lang Trust, which brought sparkle to this sale. The auction provided an extraordinary opportunity to purchase three emerald pieces well below the appraisal values. A stunning Art Deco brooch in platinum decorated with diamonds and a 8.1 carat emerald lit up the room and sold for $7,475. A superb 18 karat yellow gold dinner ring with a 9.3 carat emerald in the center fetched $11,500. Finally, a filigreed platinum emerald and diamond bracelet featured nine emeralds and a total carat weight of 9.3 sold for $4,542. Several pieces with leopard head motifs were offered. Among them, a 22-carat yellow gold and diamond leopard head belt or necklace consisted of 34 inches of heavy gold links and four leopard heads set with 124 diamonds. This piece sold for $5,750. Equally impressive was the swirl of diamonds and sapphires that covered the 18 karat yellow gold necklace ($7,475) and diamond, emerald, and ruby flower brooch ($4,255). For those with simpler taste, a strand of graduated Baroque South Sea pearls went out at $8,050.
Several watches sold to eager buyers, including a Hamilton platinum and diamond covered watch with a total diamond carat weight of 11.25 which brought $4,600. Men’s watches included an outstanding 14 karat yellow gold hunting case repeater pocket watch. This one had everything, including dial triple with cyrillics for days of the week and months of the year, phases of the moon, and a stop watch second hand. It sold for $2,702. One watch, a sterling silver coach clock, estimated at $300/500 turned out to be a real winner when it sold for $4,025.
A small but fine selection of indigenous art and artifacts included some spectacular native American beadwork and quill work. The Central Plains Indian quill work cradle cover was a colorful and skillful example of this form. It measured 27 inches long and sold for $4,312. A Great Lakes Indian beaded bandoleer bag was also highly desirable and fetched a final price of $3,162 against an estimate of $½ ,000. A selection of African masks and carvings turned out to be a good buy toward the end of the day with most pieces going out under $300.
The Samoset Sale is intended to be eclectic and that means there are always a few oddities and a few surprises. The Thomas A. Edison Western Union Telegraph Company stock ticker with original base was one of those unusual rdf_Descriptions. It brought $15,525. Another extraordinary lot was the rare decorated fireman’s parade helmet and “Chief Engineers Report of 1864 for the City of New York.” This colorful hat and historic volume sold as a set for $8,855.
A few rdf_Descriptions were overlooked by buyers. For example, it was just not the right day for the old Nineteenth Century tavern sign with an image of George Washington on his horse. Also, a 36 by 46 ½ inch Dutch tile panorama of the Geenland Whale Fishery from the Moriaen Museum at Gouda in The Netherlands looked like a rare buying opportunity but did not find a bidder willing to meet the reserve. A tiger maple secretary that appeared not to find a buyer did, in fact, go home with a contented collector after Julia negotiated a price of $24,150 after the sale. A wooden fish weathervane measuring 56 inches could not find a buyer on the day of the sale. This historical piece form the South Wolfboro Meeting House in Wolfboro, N.H., is believed to have been moved form Newburyport, Mass., prior to the turn of the Twentieth Century. A negotiated sale would benefit the Wolfboro Bible Fellowship. It also came as a surprise to sale coordinator Bill Gage that the Nineteenth Century carved eagle with crusty finish, great patina, and a wing span of 56 inches failed to find a buyer, even though a strong price was paid for a perched eagle with large talons gripping a wooden base.
All prices reported include the buyer’s premium.