Saturday, January 30, at Garth’s Auctions began like any first auction of the season day †hectic and intense. The staff knew that the second lot of its fine and contemporary art and Asian, Continental and American furniture and decorative arts auction had more than a dozen phone lines reserved for it, so they were prepared.
When lot 202, the monumental 42-by-46-inch oil on canvas landscape by Pennsylvania artist Arthur Meltzer titled “The Robe of Winter,” opened up at $20,000 †just a bit higher than the conservative estimate listed in the catalog †intense bidding ensured, and did not stop until it was knocked down for a record-breaking $156,875, including the buyer’s premium, to an in-house bidder.
Boyertown, Penn., dealers, Valerie and Kurt Malmberg of Greshville Antiques and Fine Art purchased the painting, deaccessioned from the Columbus Museum of Art and retaining labels from six major, early Twentieth Century exhibits and the evidence of three other missing labels. The landscape was displayed in its original frame as well. All these features prompted the Malmbergs to cancel their previously arranged phone bids and make the trip to Ohio to bid on, and eventually win, the lot in person.
Valerie Malmberg was passionate in her assessment of the canvas, saying, “It is an honor to have purchased such a beautiful painting and it is exciting that it is one that represents the rare ‘total package’ †excellent condition, original frame, award-winning history and a strong provenance. It is a gem!”
As it was purchased for stock, the Malmbergs plan to unveil the painting at an upcoming show or gallery event after very light restoration.
A complete review of the sale will appear in a future issue.