Published: January 17, 2017
NEW YORK CITY – Doyle’s single-owner sale of the Nelson Doubleday Jr Collection on January 11 saw marine art sail to the top. The top lot in the auction was a work by renowned painter James Buttersworth (1817-1894), whose “Yacht Racing Off Sandy Hook” attained $348,500. The oil painting captures the drama of the annual regatta of the New York Yacht Club in June 1877, showing the sole victory of the Active and was likely commissioned by her skipper, Frank W.J. Hurst, a longtime treasurer of the club. It was purchased by Hyland Granby Antiques, Hyannis, Mass., a specialist in Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century marine antiques. Alan Granby told Antiques and The Arts Weekly that the Buttersworth was “one of the best, got it for a great price.”
The auction kicked off Doyle’s 2017 auction season and was especially notable because of the quality of the collection.
Nelson Doubleday Jr (1933-2015) was the third-generation owner of publishers Doubleday and Company and the former owner of the New York Mets baseball team. The sale comprised the contents of his gracious home on Long Island’s North Shore, including his library, paintings, furniture, decorations and sports memorabilia.
With competitive international bidding from the salesroom, the telephones and the internet, the sale totaled $2,414,176, with an exceptional 96 percent sold by lot and 99 percent sold by value.
Doubleday was an avid yachtsman, and a feature of the sale was his collection of American and English nautical paintings. “Yacht Racing Off Sandy Hook” by Buttersworth exceeded its estimate of $200/300,000.
A charming, diminutive beach scene by French artist Eugene Boudin (1824-1898), “Trouville, Scene de Plage,” and a masterful marine painting by English artist Montague Dawson (1890-1973), “Two Clippers – Nocturne,” also performed strongly, each selling for $262,500 against their respective estimates of $100/250,000 and $150/300,000. One of the finest maritime painters of the Twentieth Century, Dawson was the son of a Thames yachtsman, grandson of a landscape painter and nephew of Henry Alfred Dawson, also a noted marine artist. His historical subjects reflect intimate knowledge of ships, careful research and technical precision, as seen in “Two Clippers – Nocturne,” one of eight works by Dawson in the collection.
Highlighting the sports memorabilia was Nelson Doubleday Jr’s National League Championship ring presented upon the Mets’ heartbreaking World Series loss to the crosstown rival Yankees in the famous Subway Series of 2000, which fetched $13,750 against an estimate of $8/12,000.
Offerings from the Doubleday library featured a rare single leaf from that early masterwork of printing, the Gutenberg Bible, from 1450-55, which sold for $62,500. An important George Washington letter from 1776 demanding that the citizens of New York stop supplying British ships of war in New York harbor fetched $53,125. Strong prices were also achieved for special limited editions by William Morris, Charles Dickens, Somerset Maugham and Rudyard Kipling.
Among the other offerings were Georgian furniture, mirrors, decorations, silver and early Nineteenth Century English and Chinese export porcelain. A pair of circa 1755 George II giltwood pier mirrors in the collection reflected the evolution from the rococo and “Gothick” motifs of the mid-Eighteenth Century to the symmetrical neoclassical designs of the late 1750s and 60s. Related to similar examples by John Linnell and designs by Thomas Chippendale, the mirrors achieved $75,000, more than doubling their estimate of $25/35,000.
Prices reported include the buyer’s premium For information, www.doyle.com or 212-427-2730.
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