Published: December 14, 2021
Review by W.A. Demers, Photos Courtesy Grogan & Company
BOSTON – Both the material and the bidding were festive at Grogan & Company’s holiday auction on December 5. The sale featured a curated selection of 375 lots of fine art, jewelry, silver, decorative arts and rugs. According to the firm’s Eliza Hodgson, thousands tuned in to the sale, which was live-streamed from the company’s Boston headquarters in Beacon Hill. The $1.1 million auction was notable in that a full one-third of the lots offered sold above their high estimate. With three online platforms active, plus Grogan’s own website, a total of 509 bidders registered in advance for the auction.
Leading the action was a monochromatic watercolor by Frederic Remington (American, 1861-1909) depicting a scene from the drama of America’s disappearing western frontier. “Daring Arrest of Bull Elk – Attempted Rescue by a Mob of Blackfeet,” circa 1893, brought $40,625. According to the auction house, it was purchased by a New Hampshire collector. Also in the sale, Harold Weston’s (American, 1894-1972) “Adirondack View,” towered over its $3/5,000 estimate to bring a surprisingly strong $31,250. The 1931 oil on canvas was signed Weston lower right; titled and signed verso and measured 20¼ by 20¼ inches. Weston was a Modernist painter, based for many years in the Adirondack Mountains, whose work moved from expressionism to realism to abstraction.
Kicking off the auction were just over 100 lots of jewelry, including the second highest selling lot of the day, a Tiffany & Co. gold, rubellite tourmaline, Montana sapphire and emerald brooch likely designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany. He was the storied firm’s first design director, and his illustrious design career spanned from the 1870s through to the 1920s. The brooch sold for $31,250. Other jewelry highlights included a platinum, emerald and diamond suite that brought $15,000, and a platinum, sapphire, ruby and diamond brooch, which sold for $13,750.
Living up to its billing as a “holiday sale,” the event was filled with a diverse selection of material spanning a broad range of categories. Still, fine art seemed to be ascendant, with works by notable American artists, including Remington, Weston, Grandma Moses, Wolf Kahn and others. The same New Hampshire collector who purchased the Remington also purchased a painting by artist Anna Mary Robertson aka “Grandma” Moses. “Almost Home,” dated 1945 and measuring 9-7/8 by 12 inches, was bid to $22,500.
David Hockney’s (English, b 1937) “Jungle Boy,” 1964, an etching and aquatint from the collection of a New Hampshire lady more than doubled its high estimate to finish at $25,000. The work was numbered 4/50 and titled lower left, signed and dated David Hockney 64 lower right and measured 15 by 20 inches.
Other fine art highlights included a collection of three portrait miniatures of the Rotch family painted by George Lethbridge Saunders. These achieved $21,250, another surprise, surpassing the estimate of $1/1,500. Also, a “Portrait of a Young Woman” by Lilla Cabot Perry sold for a strong $17,500. Balthasar Nebot’s (British, flourished 1730-1765) “A Fishmonger’s Stall by an Estuary,” oil on canvas, signed and dated B. Nebot 1759 lower left, 24½ by 33½ inches, took $15,600. It came from the collection of a Connecticut gentleman by descent within the family. Catalog notes stated, “Balthasar Nebot was of Spanish origin and was active in London from 1730 through 1765. Apart from his marriage in London circa 1729, very little is known of Nebot’s life. Initially, Nebot specialized in topographical scenes of London, though he also had a particular interest in depicting market scenes and individual fish, fruit and vegetable stalls.”
Also, a Cuzco School (Eighteenth/Nineteenth Century) oil on canvas picturing “Mother and Child,” 32 by 24 inches, found a buyer at $13,750.
Romanian artist Dimitri Berea’s (1908-1975) oil of a seaside terrace doubled its estimate to bring $10,000.
American artists Wolf Kahn (1927-2020) and Anne Packard (b 1933), were represented in the sale, with Kahn’s “The Red Barn,” oil, taking $9,375 and Packard’s untitled (Two Boats), oil on Masonite, going out at $8,750.
Festive original illustrations by the New York Times bestselling author Jan Brett from her publications The Hat, The Night Before Christmas and Town Mouse, Country Mouse achieved strong results, all selling well above their estimates to a private New York collector.
The glitter of sterling silver was reflected in a large offering of Georg Jensen pieces, as well as designs by Gorham, Tiffany & Co., and Kirk & Son Co. A Georg Jensen Acorn pattern silver flatware service brought $13,750, while a Gorham Martelé center bowl sold for $10,000.
Highlights from the decorative arts and rug portions of the sale included an Aaron Willard eight-day shelf clock that brought $11,875, and several Oriental rugs, including an Indian Agra carpet, circa 1850, which sold for $23,750; a Persian Bidjar carpet, last quarter of the Nineteenth Century, which commanded $15,000; a Persian Bidjar Gerus carpet, circa 1875, which rose to $10,000; and a Persian Bakshaish carpet, circa 1875, which went out at $8,750.
Leading the furniture category was a classical carved gilt and ebonized mahogany brass lift top games table that sold for $11,875.
In the Asian arts category, three Chinese gilt bronze figures, two seated, one standing, outperformed their estimated $2/4,000 to sell for $20,000.
All prices include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. The firm’s next auction will be the annual rugs and carpets auction on Sunday, January 30, and Grogan is currently seeking consignments for its annual spring auction, scheduled for Sunday, May 1. For information, www.groganco.com or 617-720-2020.
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