Published: December 15, 2015
Review And Onsite Photos by Andrea Valluzzo,
Catalog Photos Courtesy Carlsen Gallery
FREEHOLD, N.Y. — It is increasingly a buyer’s market and the theme seen at auctions at Carlsen Gallery these last few years is very simple: good things bring robust prices.
“It seems like quality certainly attracts an active and competitive audience and average material is tough to sell,” says Russ Carlsen, whose December 6 sale drew a strong in-house crowd — a rare event at most auction houses these days — and robust interest in a range of collecting categories. “All in all it was a very well -received sale. At around 125 people in house; we still muster a house crowd.”
Jewelry kicked off the sale right from the get-go with lot 1, a diamond and platinum charm bracelet, J.E. Caldwell & Company, that was, dare we say, charming? Buyers agreed, and drove the price to a solid $2,925. It had ten interesting charms, including an ace in the hole, a bar, and a question mark. The top lot of the category came a few lots later in the form of a 2.2-carat diamond solitaire ring that hit $8,190. Both lots went to phone bidders and the phones were active throughout the auction.
“Jewelry did well and pre-Christmas is always a great time to sell jewelry. We had lots of retail shoppers and the trade competing for the jewelry in the sale,” Carlsen said.
Rounding out this category, a lady’s Rolex Presidential wristwatch made $4,212, also to the phone, while a man’s Girard Perregaux Observatory wristwatch took $3,510.
Rugs also found a good audience, with the top lots being a room-size Mahal at $1,872 and a palace-size Agra at 17 feet, in very worn condition with much of the foundation showing. It unusual color field made up for condition issues and the rug sold for $2,106.
Before the sale, Carlsen expected a set of six New York Chippendale chairs to top the furniture category and he was proved right. The Eighteenth Century chairs were “beautifully carved with shell carved knees, ball and claw feet, about as untouched as a set as you’ll find,” he said. Descended in a Kinderhook, N.Y., family, the chairs made their auction debut and sold to the phone for $15,210.
A pair of Duncan Phyfe armchairs that were identical to one photographed in Duncan Phyfe: Master Cabinetmaker in New York fetched $4,387.
The fine art category accounted for the top lot of the sale, a pair of folky portraits of a young brother and sister painted by itinerant painter Joseph Whiting Stock that descended in the family for 175 years and are, for now, still together. Both paintings went to the same dealer bidding by phone after heated action in the room, the phones and the Internet. George went out at $26,910 and Elisabeth took $24,570.
“They were together for 175 years and they are still together,” said auctioneer Russ Carlsen. “It was a well-fought battle for both lots.”
The circa 1840s oil on canvas paintings crossed the block one after another and had garnered much presale attention, with a number of major dealers coming to the gallery to inspect them. The first one for sale was of George Pearsall, wearing a red gown, and shown with a cat on his lap and an urn of flowers. The second was of his sister, Elisabeth Evelyn, and she is depicted in a blue dress, with a bird on her hand, a handbag and the same urn of flowers.
Many people, including members of the trade, had come to the gallery to view the works firsthand. “They have been examined in and out of the frames and quite honestly the paintings looked like different paintings out of the frame. The frames didn’t do them any favors,” he said.
The Pearsalls were a notable New York family and lived in the Pelham area of the Bronx when these portraits were painted. “We were excited to have them and they performed better than expected,” Carlsen added.
Another paintings highlight was a signed W.G. Van Zandt canvas titled “Winter Sleigh Ride,” a 21-by-34-inch oil on canvas, that fetched $3,802.
Starting its life in Paris, an 1878 painting by Jean Baptiste Edouard Detaille titled “The Capture,” dedicated “A Monsieur Avery Temolg Nage Sympathique” came to America in 1985, selling at Christie’s as part of the Calvin Bullock collection, and hung on the walls in a home until now. After being bought here for $5,265, it is headed back to Paris.
Rounding out the auction were a pair of Rose Mandarin vases with lids at $5,265; a sterling silver tray by William Bateman, circa 1800, having two handles and a heraldic crest, $2,223; an interesting Grand Tour souvenir silver box at $1,404 and a Paul Cushman stoneware crock with coggle decoration at $1,989. Cushman is one of the earliest Albany stoneware makers.
There were several good buys to be had, especially among furniture. Floor bidders picked up an Eighteenth Century Pennsylvania chest on chest in walnut for $1,872 and a classically carved mahogany New York card table for $1,521, while a Watervliet, N.Y., Shaker chest brought $2,223. “It’s a real good time to buy furniture,” Carlsen said.
All prices reported include buyer’s premium.
For additional information, www.carlsengallery.com or 518-634-2466.
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