Published: May 21, 2019
Review and Onsite Photos by Rick Russack, Additional Photos Courtesy of Grogan & Company
BOSTON – Grogan and Company’s May 5 sale was a strong one, grossing more than $2 million, led by a Kashmir sapphire and diamond ring that sold for $164,700. It may have been the firm’s largest crowd yet in the Charles Street gallery, and more than 35 percent of the lots sold over the estimates.
This company is doing things differently than many other auction galleries today. It has reduced to three the number of annual major sales, having consciously decided to concentrate on fewer but higher value objects. That schedule allows time for significant single-owner sales to be added as needed. At a time when many auction galleries are conducting online-only sales, both Michael Grogan, president of the company, and Lucy Grogan Edwards, vice president and jewelry department director, have said that although they have discussed online-only sales, “it’s not in the cards for us now. We’re sticking with what works.” And at a time when few auction companies are producing comprehensive, full-color catalogs, Grogan has embraced them. The catalog for the May sale has 180 pages and full descriptions of each item. Their website includes additional photos of most items.
In January, the company opened an office in Portland, Maine. It’s run by Edwards, who said, “It’s working out well for us. It lets us stay in touch with attorneys and our other clients in the area, and we’re advertising on public radio and underwriting events, which is getting us to meet people we haven’t met before. I’m also able to get out and network with folks, and that’s really what it’s all about. Being on the [Antiques] Roadshow doesn’t hurt. About a dozen of the items in this sale, both jewelry and paintings, came from the Portland area.” She was asked if there were plans to conduct sales in Portland, and she said, “We’re not planning to do any sales there. We have this great space in downtown Boston.”
Grogan is known for selling jewelry and paintings. Michael Grogan is knowledgeable about rugs, having run Sotheby’s Oriental rug department and appraising rugs on the Antiques Roadshow. Grogan’s sales usually, as this one did, include some good Oriental rugs. There were silver, bronzes, Tiffany lamps, etchings, lithographs and more.
Topping the sale, the Kashmir sapphire and diamond ring featured a sapphire weighing 6.49 carats, and it was set with full-cut diamonds weighing 4.99 total diamond weight. It was accompanied by an AGL report stating that the sapphire was Kashmir with no gemological evidence of heat. Another sapphire and diamond ring, with a stone of about the same size but from Burma, sold for $45,750. Continuing with sapphires, a third one, known as a padparadscha sapphire, pink in color and generally from Sri Lanka, brought $27,450.
Several other pieces of jewelry sold in the five-figure range, including a circa 1946 Van Cleef & Arpels gold and diamond snowflake brooch with 61 diamonds that realized $23,180 and a gold and diamond ring with an old European-cut diamond weighing approximately 2.85 carats, framed by four bead-set single-cut diamonds, weighing another 7.72 total diamond weight. This ring sold for $13,420. However, it is not necessary to spend multiple thousands of dollars for nice jewelry. A platinum and diamond brooch with an old European-cut diamond sold for just $732.
A couple of days before the sale, Georgina Winthrop, the company’s director of fine art, was asked which was her favorite painting in the sale. “You have to let me pick two,” she said. “I love the Gloria Vanderbilt collage. It appeals to so many different people on so many levels. I hope it does well. And I love the Inness. It’s a wonderful example of his work from the last year he spent in Rome, and it’s a very tranquil work. It really talks to me. And it helps that it has such a good provenance. Actually, you have to let me pick three favorite things. We have a group of works by Alden Lassell Ripley. Two are watercolors of scenes in the Boston Garden. That’s right across the street. I can walk to those scenes. And some of the others were done in Gloucester. Local.” Her choices did well. The Gloria Vanderbilt (b 1924) collage “Girl in Blue and Silver,” a mixed media work, brought $9,760, nearly four times the estimate. The George Inness (1825-1894) was the highest priced painting in the sale, finishing at $52,460. One of the Alden Lassell Ripley (1896-1969) watercolors of the Boston Common sold for $2,684, and the other brought $854.
While the Inness topped the paintings, a work by Vu Cao Dam (1908-2000), a Vietnamese-born artist who later studied in France, was not far behind. Titled “Les Musiciennes” and depicting two women, it earned $50,020. “Esmeralda,” a nude by Scottish painter Sir William Russell Flint (1880-1969), realized $48,800, and “Pink Roses” by Edouard Vuillard (1868-1940) reached $46,200. Its provenance was traced back to 1922, when it was purchased from the artist and included in several prestigious galleries, and it had been included in several exhibitions. As with jewelry, one would not have had to spend many thousands of dollars to take home nice artwork. Two colored pencil drawings by Martha Cahoon (1905-1999) sold for $671. Martha was the wife and business partner of Ralph Cahoon, whose paintings often sell for several thousands of dollars.
The sales are not limited to paintings and jewelry. A silver porringer by Paul Revere Jr, circa 1770, realized $18,300. An Aesthetic Movement silver water pitcher produced by Dominick & Haff more than 100 years after the Revere porringer finished at $11,880. A total of 153 pieces of a Georg Jensen flatware service in the Fuchsia pattern, together with ten shrimp forks, brought $6,100. As mentioned above, the company often has a selection of Oriental carpets. Drawing the highest price of the group was a Serapi carpet, made in Persia in the last quarter of the Nineteenth Century, which sold for $30,500. A Senna-Serapi Tree of Life rug, made in Persia in the mid-Nineteenth Century, reached $19,520.
A few days after the sale, Michael Grogan said, “This was really an important sale to me, psychologically. It vindicated the approach we’re using. Prices were strong, and the gallery was standing-room-only. And there were a lot of our neighbors here. People who live on Beacon Hill. That’s important – this is an affluent neighborhood, and past sales have had fewer of those people. That said to me that what we’re doing is working. And, of course, it helps to have the right merchandise, which we did.”
Prices given include the buyer’s premium, as stated by the auction house.
For more information, 617-720-2020 or www.groganco.com.
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