Published: November 15, 2022
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Photos Courtesy Doyle
NEW YORK CITY – Collectors of American furniture, silver, decorative arts, paintings and prints found a sizeable selection offered at Doyle on November 2-3. More than 350 lots of furniture, spanning periods from Queen Anne to Renaissance Revival, silver, ceramics, folk art, textiles, Chinese export porcelain and rugs was first up; achieving a sell-through rate of 86 percent, and a total of nearly $689,000 was realized against an estimate of $536,200/821,500. The fine art, 140 lots of it, followed on the second day, earning an additional $1,131,280 and selling within its $1,094,600/1,866,700 estimate with 87 percent of lots sold.
The furniture section was the first assembled by Chris Barber, Doyle’s new director of American furniture and decorative arts specialist, who joined the firm in the spring. The first to admit there were some disappointments in the section, Barber was nonetheless optimistic about future sales.
“I was encouraged by a lot: the attendance numbers for the preview, the engagement I was able to have getting to know existing Doyle clients and also connecting in a new place with old friends of mine. It was great to see the sheer number of people who registered for absentee bids, phone bids, live bidding on Doyle.com, and on the other internet platforms, as well. We even had some folks in the room! There were quite a few new buyers to Doyle in the sale, which means to me that we are reaching more and more people every day. All of this indicates that we are establishing a foundation of successes on which we can build in the future. I’m looking forward to my spring sale already!”
Highlighting the section at $22,680 was a Federal inlaid mahogany tall case clock, made by Simon Willard of Roxbury, Mass., which had a white-painted iron dial and a case inlaid with patera. It was followed at $8,190 by a late Nineteenth Century Renaissance Revival carved and parcel-gilt rosewood and repoussé copper center table by Pottier & Stymus of New York City. The table featured a circular top with classical scenes in a repoussé copper border; the catalog suggested Pottier & Stymus is thought to be unique among its contemporaries for its use of repoussé copper borders as decorative elements.
“We really were blessed with a great selection of things and thrilled it found such traction with buyers,” said Todd Sell, Doyle’s senior vice president and the silver specialist for the sale. As it often is, Tiffany was the star of the sale, with an impressive Tiffany & Co. sterling silver monumental flagon that had been made for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Most recently on the market in 1996, when it was purchased by a Long Island collector from a sale at Christie’s, it sold at Doyle for $40,950. The piece, which Sell thought was probably unique, had provenance back in the family of Katherine Medill McCormick, patron of the fair. Among the photographs Doyle featured with the lot was an archival photograph from the fair showing it among several other impressive pieces.
The same buyer of the World’s Fair flagon also had the winning bid of $11,970 for a Tiffany & Co. sterling silver water pitcher that was made as a trophy for the New York Yacht Club. Acid-etched with the inscription “47th Annual Regatta NYYC June 9th 1892 won by Peerless,” the body stood 8¼ inches tall and was decorated with bands of stylized shells and seaweed.
“Monumental” seemed to be the catchword among the Tiffany & Co. pieces, noted as describing a pair of sterling silver five-light candelabra dated to 1907-38 that stood 26 inches tall and with a total weight of approximately 388 ounces, or more than 10 pounds per piece. The pair found a home with a private collector who pushed the result to $34,650, just below the lot’s high estimate.
Sterling silver flatware sets are perennial favorites among collectors and Doyle met the demand with more than two dozen lots, topped at $20,160 by an extensive 287-piece Tiffany & Co. sterling silver flatware service in the Olympian pattern that had been owned by Daniel and Joanna S. Rose, New York City philanthropists whose support has benefitted several institutions. The Rose Planetarium and a New York Public Library reading room are named after them. Sell said that Doyle has been auctioning their silver through several sales in 2022.
Nearly a dozen lots of Chinese export silver crossed the block but despite the comparatively small offering, they attracted interest and bidding from Europe and Asia as well as the United States. “That market is so strong. It’s because there is so much interest from China to buy this type of silver back. It’s also so different from the American and European silver,” observed Sell.
American Paintings & Prints
The November 3 auction of American paintings and prints is a semiannual event and Doyle’s premier venue for Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century American paintings, including Hudson River School landscapes, Western and Regional art, still lifes, portraits, nautical scenes and folk paintings. Also featured are Audubon, Currier & Ives and topographical prints.
Highlighting the November 3 auction was a group of important Hudson River School paintings from a Distinguished New York Collection. The collection offered more than 30 examples by Jasper Francis Cropsey, Martin Johnson Heade, Dwight William Tryon, Sanford Robinson Gifford, George Inness, Ralph Albert Blakelock, Alfred Thompson Bricher and John Frederick Kensett, among many other prominent artists.
Heading the sale at $189,000 was “Sunset on the Marshes” by Martin Johnson Heade (American, 1819-1904), a circa 1870-76 oil on canvas landscape, laid to Masonite, that measured 15-1/8 by 30¼ inches. Director of American art, Bill Fiddler, was pleased to say that it had been acquired by an institution who prevailed against competition from the trade and private collectors. He also said that the seller – the distinguished New York collector, who he characterized as having “a very discerning eye” – was “thrilled” with the result. The painting will be included in the forthcoming revised edition of the Martin Johnson Heade catalogue raisonné by Dr Theodore E. Stebbins Jr.
Also consigned from the same New York collection and following behind the Heade at $163,800 was “View of Niagara with View of Clifton House” by Jasper Francis Cropsey (American, 1823-1900), a painting Fiddler said was “not only a fabulous painting but also historically very important,” being Cropsey’s first painting of Niagara Falls. Extensive publication and provenance for the painting were noted in Doyle’s catalog as was mention of a November 1, 1897, letter from Cropsey to John Wickliffe Kitchell, an early owner of the work, wherein Cropsey recounts his visit to Niagara Falls in 1852, the year the painting was completed.
Conversely, Fiddler said that another of Cropsey’s pictures that came from the same seller, “Couple on a Bridge,” was “a very popular piece in the sale. It’s typical [of his work] and everyone wants one like [it]. The fall foliage was wonderful, and it had great sense of scale. It was a beautiful painting.” Estimated at $40/60,000, it rose to $75,600.
Rounding out the leaderboard in the painting sale was “The Puritan,” a statuesque bronze work by Augustus Saint-Gaudens (American, 1848-1907) that through some sleuthing among the provenance, Fiddler was able to determine that it had been cast during Gaudens’ lifetime. The 30½-inch-tall bronze with green-brown patina topped off at $94,500.
One of Fiddler’s favorite genres in the category is tonalist works; he admitted to having been a little disappointed the tonalist works in the sale did not do better but was happy they sold. Bringing the most at $37,800 was Dwight William Tryon’s (American, 1849-1925) “Evening Landscape.” Painted in 1901, the 33-by-40-inch landscape had provenance to a corporate collection, two art galleries and a Sotheby’s auction in 2005.
“We had a few new bidders – we do a lot of outreach to try to reach as many people as possible. It’s funny how people tend to find you when you have great things,” said Fiddler.
Doyle will next sell American furniture and paintings in the spring; Twentieth and Twenty-First Century silver will be sold December 7 in the firm’s upcoming Doyle + Design sale.
Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house. For information, www.doyle.com or 212-427-2730.
September 19, 2023
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