Published: September 8, 2020
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Catalog Photos Courtesy Bruneau & Co., Auctioneers
CRANSTON, R.I. – For its first Covid-era sale in which bidders were allowed back into the saleroom, Bruneau & Co., Auctioneers offered a nearly 350-lot Estate Antiques & Fine Art Auction on August 27 in which nearly 84 percent of the lots sold for a total of nearly $100,000. Almost 16,000 bidders registered online, with international buyers from Spain, Italy, China, Singapore and Canada. The house offered previews by appointment and absentee and phone bids in addition to seats in the salesroom for about 20 people, all socially distanced. Online bidding took place on multiple platforms: AuctionZip, Barnebys in Europe, Bidsquare, ePaiLive in Asia, Invaluable, LiveAuctioneers, and on the firm’s dedicated website bidLIVE.Bruneauandco.com, or through their mobile app. Of all of these bidding options, in this sale LiveAuctioneers saw the most activity.
“Good things are selling,” Travis Landry, Bruneau & Co.’s director of Pop Culture reported to Antiques and The Arts Weekly the day after the sale. “Given the circumstances with everything, and with what we had, the sale did very well and we’re happy. Online sales are going crazy and antiques are doing well.”
A surprise result that brought the highest price of the day came with a pastel on paper landscape by Siebe Johannes ten Cate (Dutch-Frisian, 1858-1908), which made $4,688 against an estimate of $600/900. The work, which had been in a private collection in Uxbridge, Mass., inspired competition from two international private collectors bidding on Invaluable. “All the interest was from overseas,” Landry said.
The second place price of $2,125 went to Romare Bearden’s “Jazz Band” lithograph. It was on Arches paper from an edition of 200, measured 22 by 29¾ inches and had been in a private collection in Providence, R.I. Landry said the subject matter is really hot right now and confirmed that the work was purchased by a bidder in the United States who was bidding on LiveAuctioneers.
Rounding out the top three prices achieved was a work titled “Trees Under Full Moon” by Robinson Murray (Massachusetts, 1890-1984), which exceeded expectations to bring $1,750 and set a new record for the artist in the process. The oil on canvas work was dated 1976 and had been on long-term loan to the Worcester Art Museum. It was part of a large collection of works by the artist Landry and Kevin Bruneau acquired at the sale of the estate of Paul S. Morgan. Morgan had owned Morgan Construction Co., in Worcester, Mass., and had been a philanthropist and supporter of the arts in Massachusetts. “We picked what we thought were the best ones and put five in this sale,” Landry said. Two private collectors, both in the United States, acquired the five Murray works, which realized prices from $1,500 for “Along The Quay” to $344 for “King’s Bonnet.”
When Bruneau & Co., gets an artist’s estate or large collections of works by the artist, its sales often create or boost the market for that artist. Landry said we could expect to see more works by Murray in future sales; a local collector who had been collecting Murray works over time saw the results from the sale and has consigned a handful of pictures for upcoming sales. “They are coming out of the closet,” Landry said.
Another artist Landry called our attention to was Gordon Steele (1906-1961), a Syracuse artist who died “at the height of his career.” Bruneau & Co., received the family’s collection and has sold about a dozen works so far, with about 40 lots to go, the majority of which have been purchased by buyers from upstate New York. The sale featured six works, a combination of portraits, landscapes and still life paintings, that achieved prices from $313 to $594.
Landry said Bruneau & Co., staff are encouraged to frequent local estate sales, flea markets and the like; many consign their finds for auction. An abstract composition in brown, orange, red and white by Massachusetts artist William Frank had been acquired by a staff member at a Cape Cod yard sale for $10. It brought $813 from a Massachusetts collector.
A picker who occasionally sources things for Bruneau’s sales acquired a modern Cubist style chandelier by Gaetano Sciolari for $75 on Facebook Marketplace. He brought it to Bruneau’s, who found several examples bringing about $900 at auction. It ended up selling to a phone bidder in New York for $1,500.
As the upcoming presidential election nears, it should come as no surprise that political memorabilia is very of the moment and commands the attention of bidders. A circular campaign ferrotype pin depicting Abraham Lincoln dated to circa 1860 and came from a Saunderstown, R.I., private collection. It more than tripled its high estimate, selling to a buyer in the United States for $1,625. “The circumstances with everything going on in society did not hurt it,” Landry said.
A braided 14K gold bracelet that brought $1,625 came with a story. According to Landry, the piece had been offered in previous sales but each time, the buyers – all different – had failed to remit payment for the lot. “It looked like a Tiffany piece from the 1940s or 1950s but we never made that attribution,” Landry said. “We actually raised the estimate because the price of gold has gone up so much.” Landry was happy to report that the bracelet has been paid for, acknowledging that his father had been the buyer.
Bruneau has for some time been working to gradually sell about 400 works by Taro Yamamoto (American, 1919-1994). Originally part of the Chrysler Collection in New York City, the collection belonged to Lucielle Carcieri of Lincoln, R.I. Six works by the abstract expressionist kicked off the sale and realized prices from $594 at the top end to $196.
Traditional antiques in numerous categories saw strong interest across the board. A landscape by Connecticut impressionist painter Henry Cooke White (1861-1952) brought $1,250 from a Connecticut buyer while a set of Gorham sterling and coin flatware from a Vero Beach estate realized $1,125. That was the same price achieved by a set of eight dinner plates by Royal Crown Derby, in the Old Imari pattern, that Landry called “an estate sale staple.” A set of eight salad or dessert plates from the same service finished at $1,000, while a group of cups and saucers finished at $438 and a stack of 16 bread and butter plates made $406. All of the porcelain was from an Ipswich, Mass., estate; two different buyers from the United States divided the set.
A Twentieth Century Japanese gilt-bronze Buddha made $1,250 from a private collector in Cumberland, R.I., while a Nineteenth Century Chinese bronze pricket candlestick that had at one time been in the collections of the Preservation Society of Newport County achieved $594 from a buyer in the United States.
All prices quoted include buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house.
The next sale for Bruneau & Co., Auctioneers will take place October 3, featuring comics, dolls and toys.
Bruneau & Co., Auctioneers is at 63 Fourth Avenue. For more information, 401-533-9980 or www.bruneauandco.com.
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