Published: January 23, 2007
A trio of paintings by the early Nineteenth Century Pennsylvania painter Edward Hicks garnered $10,128,000 at Christie’s, pushing the Rockefeller Center firm’s Americana Week sales total to $23,922,400.
The January 18–19 auctions underscored the currently robust demand for exceptional folk art, particularly folk sculpture.
Edward Hicks’ “Peaceable Kingdom,” the final example from a series and painted for his daughter Elizabeth in 1849 just before his death, went to Harry B. Hartman Antiques of Marietta, Penn., for $6,176,000. The painting established a record price paid at auction for American folk art as well as an auction record for the artist. Yardley, Penn., dealer C.L. Prickett Antiques was the underbidder.
A languorous version of the image painted many times by Hicks, the record “Peaceable Kingdom” remained with descendants until consigned to Christie’s. In immaculate condition, the 24¾-by-30¼-inch oil on canvas was on loan to the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City, Mo., until last year.
A circa 1835–1845 version of Hicks’ “Penn’s Treaty With The Indians” sold over the phone to Marguerite Riordan Antiques of Stonington, Conn., underbid by Harry Hartman Antiques, for $3.6 million ($1.5/2 million), an auction record for the series.
Less meticulous and more free-spirited was Hicks’ depiction of Andrew Jackson of circa 1832. The oil on canvas laid down on board went to Boston dealer Stephen Score for $352,000 ($100/150,000). The work was from the same consignor as the “Peaceable Kingdom.”
Christie’s also achieved an auction record for the Nineteenth Century folk portraitist Ammi Phillips. Reminiscent of an earlier record-setting child in a red dress by Phillips, the circa 1830–35 canvas depicting a girl with her cat soared past the past its $150/250,000 estimate as it went to a private buyer bidding by phone for $1,248,000.
Leading a selection of weathervanes was a 41-inch-long molded and gilt copper grasshopper attributed to Cushing & Sons of Waltham, Mass., circa 1883. It went to Stephen Score for $520,000 ($100/300,000.) A private buyer claimed a Cushing & White molded and painted copper Goddess of Liberty weathervane for $464,000 ($100/150,000).
Bidding on behalf of a client, Philadelphia needlework specialist Amy Finkel purchased a Mary Balch School of Providence, R.I., sampler for $329,600 ($50/80,000). Completed by Betsy Wardwell in 1797, the important example retains its brilliant original color and abundant pictorial detail.
The decoy market was put to the test by the Alvin E. Friedman-Kien collection, jointly marketed by Christie’s and decoy specialists Guyette and Schmidt. Friedman-Kien acquired many of the sculptures through pioneering dealer Adele Earnest. Heading the group was a large Canada goose. It sold to New York folk sculpture collectors Jerry and Susan Lauren for $553,600 ($300/500,000). In all, the Friedman-Kien collection realized $2,238,000 on 84 lots.
From another consigner came a merganser hen decoy made by Kingston, Mass., carver Lothrop Holmes in the mid to late Nineteenth Century. Estimated at $400/600,000, the 14½-inch decoy set a new auction record, selling to a private collector and underbid by Boston dealer Stephen O’Brien, Jr, for $856,000.
Early American silver, including the Darling Foundation collection of New York silver and property from the First Church in Salem, Mass., realized $1,719,880 on 67 lots. A phone bidder claimed an engraved, baluster-shaped teapot made circa 1730 by Tobias Stoutenburgh of New York for Captain Petrus Douw for $352,000 ($150/250,000).
A circa 1670 Jeremiah Dummer of Boston silver cup for Francis Skerry fetched $204,000 ($150/250,000). The Clarke/Cabott family tankard by John Coney of Boston, circa 1690–1710, realized $168,000 against an estimate of $150/300,000, also selling to a private buyer by phone.
In the furniture category, there was brisk interest in a rare Queen Anne walnut dodecagonal drop-leaf dining table. Probably from Maryland or Pennsylvania, the mid Eighteenth Century piece went to C.L. Prickett Antiques for $408,000 ($20/40,000). The Pennsylvania dealer also bought a Chippendale block and shell carved mahogany bureau table attributed to John Goddard or Edmund Townsend of Newport, R.I., for $520,000, the low end of its estimate.
Christie’s continued on January 23 and 24 with Chinese Export art, including property from the Hodroff collection.
Prices realized include the buyer’s premium. For information, www.Christies.com or 212-636-2000.
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