Published: September 28, 2016
Review and Onsite Photos by Laura Beach
CRANSTON, R.I. — Sultry weather and the allure of Rhode Island’s famous beaches notwithstanding, Bruneau & Co.’s catalogued summer auction of American, European and Asian art, antiques and jewelry beckoned bidders on July 23. Most seats in the gallery were taken, many by regulars who follow auctioneer Kevin Bruneau, an industry veteran known for his online presence and role in the PBS series Market Warriors. Another 3,000 enthusiasts followed the 515-lot sale online.
The auction got off to a roaring start with the sale of a 1949 Bentley Mark VI Standard Saloon. Suitable for a rock star or royalty, this lovingly restored vehicle had nary a blemish. A rider might have melted into its luxurious leather seats and its wooden dash gleamed. Determined to prove that looks are not everything, Kevin Bruneau had associate Travis Landry fire up the Bentley’s engine, proving that the car was in working order. Fear not, the room was ventilated for the safety of those seated. After a bidding battle ensued among several parties, the Bentley sold for $26,250, making it the top lot of the day.
“A lot of fun stuff came out of a house in North Providence, R.I.,” said Bruneau, pointing out another of the day’s highlights, an arresting Italian landscape, $11,875, by George Loring Brown. Titled “Sunrise,” the oil on canvas depicted the rocky coast near Sorrento. The artist noted an old repair on the painting’s reverse.
Also of interest were two landscapes by the visionary American painter Ralph Albert Blakelock. Both carried the imprimatur of venerable Vose Galleries of Boston. One picture, “Fading Light,” depicted a teepee along a river bank at twilight and had gone through Sotheby’s in 1983. The views fetched $7,500 each.
The coastal theme continued with “Moonlight at the Shore,” $6,875, a signed and dated 1873 watercolor by William Trost Richards, and Prosper Louis Senat’s “Capri,” a moonlit veranda view, $1,750. Bearing the label of Seattle gallerist A.J. Kollar, Charles Curtis Allen’s lushly beautiful “New England Spring” garnered $3,750. Sculpture ranged from an idealized nude bronze, $2,750, by the mid-Twentieth Century Swedish sculptor Gunnar Nilsson, to a sandstone carving of the Hindu god Vishnu. With repairs, the Nineteenth Century Indian figure realized $6,875.
In life, the theatrical dealer Roger Bacon was a forceful advocate for early New England furniture in untouched surfaces. With Bacon gone many years now, the appreciation of primitive furniture may be on the wane. An Eighteenth Century American maple stretcher-base tavern table bearing Bacon’s distinctive label left the room at only $375. Cataloged as a Seventeenth Century English example, an oak blanket chest with applied decoration realized only $156. Table and chest were from the same Newtown, Conn., holding.
Earlier this year, Bruneau named Landry head of its toys division. Landry, who does much of the firm’s cataloging, is organizing a major sale of toys, comics and collectibles for November 13 at the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence. Bruneau is conducting the sale in partnership with Rhode Island Comic Con, which draws roughly 100,000 visitors.
“We have a really nice selection of comic books and some important action figures to sell,” Landry told Antiques and The Arts Weekly. In his most recent toy sale for Bruneau, Landry saw $6,250 for the Star Wars action figure Chewbacca. But take it from Landry, not from me. The expert co-starred in the Travel Channel’s series Toy Hunter and knows his stuff.
Prices include buyer’s premium.
Bruneau & Co. Auctioneers is at 63 Fourth Avenue in Cranston. For additional information, www.bruneauandco.com or 401-533-9980.
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