Published: July 8, 2003
Buyers from Italy, France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and nine other countries helped generate top prices for the strong European section of Freeman’s Sunday, June 22, sale of fine American and European paintings. Combined totals of paintings sales on Friday and Sunday exceeded $1.2 million against an $800,000 low estimate with a sell-through rate of 84 percent.
Sunday’s top lot was a Futurist work by the Twentieth Century Italian painter Enrico Prampolini (1896-1956) that had been estimated to sell for $8/10,000. Extensive promotion of the sale in trade publications and on the Internet – with exposure to the more than 65 million users of eBay especially influential – led to more than a dozen bidders from Italy engaging in heated competition for the lot. After a brief stall at $35,000, a new bidder in the room entered the fray to drive the price to $55,812.
“An Esteemed Visitor” by Clemente Pujol de Gustavino (French, 1850-1905) came to Freeman’s as part of a consignment from the Schwenkfelder Library & Museum. International competition was again heated for this lot, which eventually sold to a trade buyer in Paris for $41,125. Other notable European results include a world record price for the work of Charles Joseph Grips (Belgian, 1825-1920) – $35,250 for “Woman in Interior Preparing a Meal”- and $25,850 for a painting from the circle of Orazio de Ferrari (Italian 1605-1657). Both paintings sold to private buyers in the greater Philadelphia region.
Other notable results from the European segment of the sale included Edmund Adler, “The Big Brother,” $18,800, and “Feeding the Young,” $14,100; Bernard Pothast, “Mother and Children,” $16,450; and Cornelius Christiaan Dommelshuizen, “Evening at Maassluis, Holland,” $14,100.
Bidders from eBay were active throughout both sales, with more than 300 registered bidders participating in the sale through eBay’s Live Auction technology. The top online purchase was for an untitled Franz Kline painting, estimated to sell for $12/18,000. An eBay user from Alaska purchased the lot for $23,500.
In the American section of the sale, much presale attention had been directed toward five paintings by the Nineteenth Century Pennsylvania artist Mary Russell Smith (1842-1878), who produced some 300 paintings despite the shortness of her years. All five paintings, which came to Freeman’s from a Bucks County estate, sold for well above high estimate led by “Hen and Her Chicks” at $15,275. The total for the paintings, which sold to two private buyers and two from the trade, was $58,750 against a combined estimate of $20/32,000.
Another phone bidder in Italy was the successful bidder on “Rocky Neck, East Gloucester” by the American painter Emile Albert Gruppe (1896-1978). The harbor scene, a small example of Gruppe’s work at 12 by 6 inches, came to Freeman’s from a private Bucks County collection and sold for $30,550 against an estimate of $15/25,000. A portrait of Sir Walter Scott by Thomas Sully, painted after the portrait originally executed by Sir Thomas Lawrence, was one of the surprise results of the day. The portrait sold to a private buyer in Texas for $19,975, well above the presale estimate of $2/3,000.
Other Pennsylvania Impressionists that did well at Freeman’s are Fern Isabel Coppedge’s “Autumn Gold, Lumberville,” sold for $52,875; Edward Willis Redfield’s “Flock in a Snowy Field,” $41,125 (this painting last appeared at auction at Freeman’s in 1991, when it sold for $9,500); and Walter Emerson Baum’s “April Spring Day,” $14,100.
All listed prices include Freeman’s buyer’s premium of 17.5 percent up to $50,000 and ten percent thereafter.
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