Published: December 16, 2003
A winter scene by Edward Willis Redfield (American, 1869-1965), consigned to Freeman’s by a local private collector, was the top lot of the day at the auction company’s December 7 sale of fine paintings and sculpture.
The sale was one of the most successful ever at Freeman’s, reaching a total of $3,168,680. A total of 221 of the day’s 229 lots (96.5 percent) sold successfully, with nearly 60 percent exceeding high estimate.
Bidding for Redfield’s “The Old Mill, Washington’s Crossing” began at just under the low estimate of $300,000, but competition in the room quickly surpassed the previous record ($519,500, set at Freeman’s in December 2001).
Many phone bidders, primarily private Pennsylvania collectors, battled it out until one took the painting home for a new world record of $691,250. Signed “E.W. Redfield” bottom left, inscribed and dated “The Old Mill below Washington’s Crossing 1937” on stretcher verso, the oil on canvas measures 32 by 40 inches.
More than 150 bidders braved the weather to attend the auction, and many more bidders elected to stay in the comfort of home, with more than 625 phone bids executed over the course of the sale and another 280 bidders participating through eBay Live Auctions.
Shortly after the Redfield, in the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts section of the sale, was a run of five paintings by another of the leading lights from the Pennsylvania Impressionist movement, Walter Elmer Schofield. The consignor, Margaret Phillips of Langhorne, Penn., is the grandniece of the artist, and the paintings had descended to her through the family. The previous auction record for Schofield was $60,000, which was quickly eclipsed by the first of the Schofields in the sale. “Montmartre,” a 37- by 47-inch depiction of a corner café scene from his 1896 trip to Europe, sold to the trade for $80,750.
The record did not last for very long – perhaps four or five minutes – as the next lot sold for three times the previous record. “River in Winter,” a 40- by 48-inch landscape, sold to the Redfield underbidder at $201,750.
Another auction highlight was a 16- by 20-inch oil by Harry Leith-Ross depicting “The Bridge at New Hope,” which achieved a final price of $102,750 by a local buyer, shattering all previous records.
All told, the sale featured more than 20 world record prices and only eight unsold lots, a ratio that bodes well both for the continuing upward trends at Freeman’s and for the Pennsylvania Impressionist market as a whole.
A complete review of the auction will appear in a future issue.
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