The standout lot at Pook & Pook’s October 5‶ auction was a wonderful, folky painting with local interest. Soaring above its $50/80,000 estimate, Charles C. Hofmann’s oil on tin work, “View’s of the Buildings & Surroundings of the Berks County Almshouse,” attained $112,575 with buyer’s premium.
Engendering heavy competition in the room and lighting up several phones, the painting went to a phone bidder. Hofmann (German American, 1821‱882) painted the central bird’s-eye view of the almshouse with trees, figures, farm animals and several horse carriages surrounded by six vignettes of outbuildings. The work is dated June 6, 1879, in the lower right corner.
“We were very happy with that,” said Deirdre Pook Magarelli, noting the painting went well above its presale estimate.
Hofmann is represented in several museum collections, including the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., which owns a very similar work as this, but which is cataloged as “Berks County Almshouse.” Both works feature a central view and surrounding vignettes of outbuildings. The oil on zinc version at the museum dates to 1878 though and was painted with mostly blue tones, versus the warm reds and browns of the example in the auction.
A complete report on the sale will appear in a future issue.