Published: May 18, 2021
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Catalog Photos Courtesy Doyle’s
NEW YORK CITY – Doyle offered nearly 300 lots of American paintings, furniture and decorative arts on May 5 in a sale that brought nearly its high estimate and achieved $1,080,450 against a low/high estimate range of $725,900/1,138,800. With competitive bidding across multiple categories, the sale was 94 percent sold by lot.
The fine art section brought many of the highest prices, an unsurprising result given the category featured examples by many blue-chip American artists, but it was an exquisite charcoal drawing on paper, titled “Cherry Tree,” by Edward Hopper (1882-1967) that realized the sale’s top price of $53,550. The drawing had been initially owned by the Reverend and Mrs. Arthayer R. Sanborn, who lived in Nyack, N.Y., where Hopper had been born. Bill Fiddler, Doyle’s director of American art, noted that the work had been restored but was in good condition. It sold to a private collector in New York City.
Percival Leonard Rosseau’s (American, 1859-1937) “Bird Dogs” from 1917 received a lot of interest prior to the sale, so Fiddler was not surprised that it did well. The painting of two setters fetched $47,250 from a buyer in the United States, topping its $25/45,000 estimate. Rosseau was born in Louisiana and studied in Paris at the Academie Julian. A painting of his wife with two Irish wolfhounds exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1904 was so well received by the critics that he began to specialize in painting dogs. He returned to the United States in 1915, joined the art colony at Old Lyme, Conn., and pursued his specialty of painting scenes of sporting dogs.
Another sporting picture, one depicting a hunter with spaniels by Edmund Henry Osthaus (German/American, 1858-1928), sold just shy of its high estimate, at $34,650. The work had a few condition issues that Fiddler thought might have kept the price from going higher, but it was nonetheless “a beautiful painting,” he said. The addition of the figure of the hunter made it stand out and separates it from his usual work.
A result that surprised Fiddler was achieved by Antonio Nicolo Gasparo Jacobsen’s (Danish/American, 1850-1921) 1899 painting of the American liner Comanche, which sailed to $44,100 from an estimate of $10/15,000. According to Fiddler, Jacobsen was a chronicler of New York City’s shipping industry for decades and it was not uncommon for him to paint multiple views of the same ship over time. This painting of the Comanche, which was made by the Clyde S.S. Company, was painted in West Hoboken, N.J., and is included in the definitive catalog of Jacobsen’s works, Harold Sniffen’s Antonio Jacobsen – The Checklist, published in 1984 by the Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, Va. The painter is popular with collectors in New York as well as up and down the Eastern seaboard; Fiddler said the work, which had provenance to the Quester Gallery in Stonington, Conn., as well as a private collection in Tennessee and the public library in Brunswick Ga., sold to a New York City buyer.
One of the most noteworthy results came with the sale of Leopold Seyffert’s (American, 1887-1956) “Black and Gold,” which achieved $23,940 and set a new auction record for the artist. The painting depicted the profile of a seated woman and represents the apex of the artist’s career. It had been consigned from private collectors who Fiddler said were “thrilled with the result.” Despite considerable interest from New York and Connecticut collectors, it sold to a buyer in the Midwest. Doyle has seen strong prices for the artist recently, including in 2018, when it sold “Green Pajamas” for $15,000. “It’s good for the artist, especially for his prices going forward,” Fiddler commented.
The most dynamic part of the sale came with the silver section, which was highlighted by an assembled group of rare early serving pieces by Providence, R.I., silver company Gorham that, in the words of Doyle’s senior vice president and silver specialist, Todd Sell, “was not just the usual pieces. Anything unusual still has traction and I heard many comments that people ‘had only seen these in books’ or ‘in museums.’ I was thrilled to see lots of interest – particularly from new clients – in the serving pieces and I am very happy with the results.”
Attracting the most interest were several pieces of Gorham sterling silver servingware in the Narragansett pattern, a nautically inspired pattern decorated in the round with naturalistically rendered shells, barnacles, seaweed, starfish and other sea creatures named after the bay in Rhode Island. One of Gorham’s most stunning patterns, the Gorham price book of the period lists flatware in the Narragansett pattern as costing up to 100 percent more than the company’s common flatware and, as a result, few pieces were designed and made, with the original line featuring just 13 pieces.
The Narragansett pieces included a partial-gilt sterling silver soup ladle that measured 14 inches long and achieved $13,860. Two partial-gilt serving spoons were offered separately, each at $4/6,000; the same buyer paid $8,820 for each of the spoons. Two sterling silver Narragansett pattern napkin rings were also offered individually, with the first of the lots achieving $4,095, the second rounding off at $4,410.
Another pattern by Gorham – the Cairo pattern – was so rare that the catalog essay described it as “an anomaly among Gorham’s silver production,” to which Sell further added, “It’s so rare it’s not in the main book on Gorham.” The technique using the combination of gold, copper, brass and bronze that decorated the handle was only employed by Gorham but difficult and expensive enough to make that few sets were made. The sale featured five pieces in the pattern – a berry spoon and pie knife that made $11,340, and a three-piece lot made up of a sugar spoon, pickle fork and master butter knife, which closed at $4,410.
The sale offered 21 samplers in 12 lots, with two topping the American decorative arts offerings. Hanna Moore’s 1802 sampler depicted a landscape with a brick house, trees, deer and other animals and sold for $5,355. It beat out a pair of matched samplers, both done in 1829, one by Sarah Hodgman Carlisle, the other by Lucy Hodgman Carlisle and each depicting alphabets and numbers above a house with floral borders that sold for $5,040. Both lots, as well as most of the samplers on offer, were from the estate of Jacqueline Kemp, the owner of Windsor Antiques in Darien, Conn.
The most bargains may have been in the American furniture section, which had conservative estimates to entice bidders. A few surprises were found among the painted furniture offerings, where a Federal pine hunt board from Maryland or Virginia rose to $4,095 and a side chair possibly by Samuel Gragg of Boston, that featured peacock feather decoration, more than doubled its high estimate to finish at $2,016. A Federal inlaid mahogany serpentine front chest of drawers with delicate inlay in the corners of the drawers was the top lot in formal furniture; it went out at $3,465, well beyond its $500/800 estimate. Doubling its high estimate was a Chippendale figure maple chest on chest, which bidders chased to $2,394.
The date of Doyle’s next American paintings, furniture and decorative arts sale has not yet been set but it will take place in the fall.
Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house.
For additional information, www.doyle.com or 212-427-2730.
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