Published: April 19, 2022
Review by Z.G. Burnett. Photos Courtesy Salmagundi Club
NEW YORK CITY – America’s oldest art auction, the historic Salmagundi Club hosted its first sale this year with a very successful two-day fundraising auction event, which was co-promoted by Roland Auctions NY, on Friday and Saturday, April 8-9.
Both sessions were conducted live in the club’s 1854 townhouse headquarters, the oldest house on Fifth Avenue. Salmagundi auctions have operated continuously since the late 1870s, however this was Salmagundi’s first in-person public auction in more than two years. The auctions were presented live as well as online through Live Auctioneers, by phone and through absentee bids, spotlighting work by many of the club’s top emerging and established artists. The auction featured more than 200 original portraits, still lifes, landscapes, photography and other genres, with all purchases to support both the artists and the club. A unique addition to the auction was the Judy Daniele Marsh bequest of 30 paintings, most purchased two decades ago and recently donated in memory of Marsh, a loyal patron of the club. Each work of art was intentionally priced to be affordable and included its own frame.
The two-day event kicked off with Salmagundi chairman Nick Dawes hosting a pre-auction dinner in the Skylight Gallery and dining room of the club on April 8, which included a tour of the auction by acclaimed artist and Salmagundi President Jacob Collins and part one of the auction itself. The remaining 150 lots were then auctioned on April 9. Meant to be less formal than a standard New York City auction, the nonprofit enlisted volunteers to assist with the proceedings.
All eyes were on some very specific works of art, which highlighted the two-day auction event. Joseph McGurl’s “Evening Light on the River,” an oil canvas depicting a view of Battery Park, was the event’s top lot. It sold to an anonymous online bidder against competition in the room for $3,450. The noted tonalist’s painting was followed by a modernist interior scene by Walter Hatke titled “Vestiges,” which sold for $2,700.
The third highest lot by Salmagundi emeritus member Carole Teller came as a surprise. Known for her cityscapes, her “Window View” depicting the city after a snowfall through a window view went for $2,185, more than doubling its $450/750 estimate. Teller’s other painting up for sale, “Rooftops In The Glow of Sunset,” had the same estimate and also outperformed, at $920. As her work usually fetches $300/600, these were triumphs for Teller and Salmagundi.
These two paintings were among the top three works with the most bids. Dawes, who also acted as an auctioneer in the sale, commented that he wouldn’t have been surprised if both Tellers went to the same anonymous online bidder. Teller’s paintings bookended another female artist in this category, Kathy Anderson’s “Red And White Rose Mix,” which sold for $865. Anderson was recently awarded the gold medal in the Masters Division of the Oil Painters of America National Salon Show. The flowers shown were picked from the artist’s own garden.
In addition, “Tree of Knowledge (Endangered)” by Elizabeth Myers Castonguay sold for $2,185. The Promethean subject of this acrylic work is dedicated to women across the world who are punished for pursuing studies outside religious doctrine. Castonguay’s art career has been solely dedicated to painting about human equality and the preservation of Mother Nature.
Paintings from Salmagundi archives also drew attention, including a New England scene by Antonio Cirino (1889-1983), titled “With the Green Roof,” 1970s, from the artist’s estate, which sold for $1,725. Two oil canvases by classically trained painter John Traynor sold, the higher of which was “Kit Carson Road, Taos” for $1,610. One hundred percent of the $1,380 sale from his other idyllic midday landscape, titled “Morning in Hollow Stowe, VT,” benefits Salmagundi, as it was bequeathed to the club from the estate of Judy Daniele March.
Another longtime member, Richard Lithgow, was represented in the sale with two paintings, including Dawes’ favorite, “Prize Pig.” Known for his slightly off-beat subjects, this Surrealist work struck the chairman as humorous. “It’s not really about a pig,” he added. The oil on canvas went to market for $750.
“I was delighted to see so many private collectors in the room and online,” Dawes said, “I am grateful for all our volunteer help, especially staff from Roland Auctions who assisted with photography, auction services and promotion.” Salmagundi welcomes donations of historic paintings for the permanent collection and future auctions.
Prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. The Salmagundi Club is at 47 Fifth Avenue. For information, www.salmagundi.org or 212-255-7740.
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