Published: January 19, 2016
Review & Photos By Laura Beach
WINDSOR, CONN. — What does a good, old-fashioned auction look like? Nadeau’s, on New Year’s Day. The Internet may have extended the global reach of auctioneers everywhere, but many bidders would argue that it has diminished the camaraderie and competition that make live auctions so compelling.
Not so at Nadeau’s on January 1, where, technical amenities notwithstanding, a standing-room-only crowd devoured nearly 700 lots. Views of points distant — from Egypt and Venice to Big Sur and Waikiki — transported bidders to exotic realms and pushed the sale’s total to $1,280,000. Property from the corporate collection of Credit Suisse and the estates of three former Hartford-area residents — Natalie Rafferty, Sylvia Leven and Anne S. Carey — added heft. It was the third year running that Nadeau’s New Year’s Day sale surpassed the million-dollar mark. Nadeau executed roughly 600 phone bids, 400 absentee bids and registered 2,000 bidders online.
A house call yielded two of the day’s top lots, paintings by Henry Ossawa Tanner and Arthur Hill Gilbert.
“They literally came off a wall in Rockport, Mass.,” said auctioneer and company president Edwin J. Nadeau, Jr.
Acclaimed African American artist Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859–1937) enjoyed international renown after settling in France in the 1890s, where he was best known for Biblical scenes like “Flight Into Egypt.” Nadeau knocked down the small oil in a pleasingly limpid palette to collectors for $84,000.
Affirming the vibrant market for California painting, a Big Sur view by the Monterey Peninsula painter Arthur Hill Gilbert (1894–1970) achieved $25,200.
Late in the day, “Diamond Cove, Waikiki Beach, Hawaii” by Frank Chamberlain surprised all comers, sailing past its $600–$1,000 estimate to bring $27,600. The price appears to be an auction record for the artist who was born in San Francisco, moved to Hartford, studied at the Wadsworth Atheneum and the Art Students League, was affiliated with the MacDowell Colony and finally settled in Pasadena, where he died in 1961.
Other American paintings of note were “November in the Hills” by Guy C. Wiggins, $15,000; two oils by the Hartford-born African American artist Charles Ethan Porter, “Still Life with Fruit and Basket,” $9,600, and “Still Life of Roses,” $3,300; and “Hand Over the Money,” $25,200, a piquant trompe l’oeil work by the French-born New York City artist Victor Dubreuil.
Exhibited at the Watercolor Club of New York in 1910, a rare Orientalist gouache on paper by Francis Luis Mora fetched $4,200. Among European paintings, a Venetian canal view by Marin Rico y Ortega commanded $27,000.
Nadeau continues to disperse historical Americana from the corporate collection of Credit Suisse. Last November, the firm auctioned Daniel Huntington’s “Portrait of Cornelius Vanderbilt,” $45,600, and Thomas Waterman Wood’s “Portrait of Andrew Carnegie,” $30,000. More captains of industry followed this round. Philip A. De Laszlo’s “Portrait of Andrew W. Mellon” achieved $25,200; Francis Lathrop’s “Portrait of Collis Potter Huntington,” $17,500; Ellis Meyer Silvette’s “Portrait of Thomas Alva Edison,” $16,250; and Adolfo Muller-Ury’s “Portrait of James Jerome Hill,” $15,600.
Works on paper ranged from Audubon’s hand-colored rendering of a male black-billed cuckoo bird, $17,500; to the Modernist lithograph “Overseas Highway” by Ralston Crawford, $10,200; and two 1965 Richard Diebenkorn lithographs, $3,000 each.
Father and son artisans Philip and Kelvin LaVerne made Asian-influenced tables and cabinets featuring patinated bronze surfaces. LaVerne coffee tables in the rare “Eternal Forest,” $20,400, and “Chan,” $4,800, patterns and a pair of “Shang Ti” end tables, $5,700, led furniture sales.
Decoratively painted and in outstanding condition, a Herring & Co. safe housed in an R.J. Horner carved oak case was an impressive specimen at $12,000. Bidders cottoned to an Art Nouveau cabinet, $5,000, signed Galle in inlay. From Steinway & Son’s “Crown Jewel” collection, a grand piano in an Indian rosewood headed musical instrument sales at $24,000.
One hundred lots of estate jewelry got the day going, a platinum and diamond tennis bracelet making $12,000.
Prices reported include the buyer’s premium.
More property from Credit Suisse and various owners was slated for sale at Nadeau’s on January 23.
Nadeau’s Auction Gallery is at 25 Meadow Road in Windsor. For more information, www.nadeausauction.com or 860-246-2444.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm