Published: November 22, 2011
Diversified offerings, along with the usual cast of characters, set the stage at Shannon’s recent auction of fine American and European paintings, drawings and sculpture, conducted October 27. “It is a mix-master of things,” commented auction house principal Gene Shannon during preview for the auction. “We are pushing forward with a larger selection of Pop and Modern art,” he said, along the way adding more of what the auction house refers to as “breathers,” living artists, to complement the usual assortment of premium grade paintings.
The auction featured 216 lots and this was the first Shannon’s sale in recent memory that did not feature large quantities of paintings consigned in groups from corporate collections. “Things came in one painting at a time,” said Shannon’s daughter and auction house co-owner Sandra Germain. “It was a lot more work putting the sale together, but I think there is a lot of diversity and an excellent level of quality from start to finish,” she said.
Modern paintings continued to excel at Shannon’s, with the offering of works by Rolph Scarlett, which Shannon commented are “coming out of the woodwork” after several of the artist’s works established record prices at the gallery. It is the classic works, however, that continues to make Shannon’s a hot spot in the art world, with important paintings such as Jasper Cropsey’s dramatic landscape “Greenwood Lake” once again bringing premium prices.
The Cropsey had been consigned from an upstate New York home and when the painting was first viewed, it not only retained the original frame, but the oil on canvas was behind glass. “It was gorgeous,” stated Shannon of the painting, and it needed only a light cleaning to bring it back to its original luminosity. The autumn colors dramatically muted by a backlit sunset, the 12-by-20-inch work was termed by more than one viewer as “majestic.”
Bidding opened at $75,000 against a $100/150,000 estimate and two phone bidders immediately engaged in a battle to claim the lot. Progressing initially in $5,000 increments, it was not long before the painting hit the $100,000 mark, where advances jumped to $10,000 at a clip. The two phones pushed each other rapidly until the lot paused momentarily at $180,000, when a third phone bidder jumped into the fray and hit the lot at $190,000. A counter bid came at $200,000 and again the new bidder hit the lot, ultimately claiming it at $252,000, including premium.
Previously sold at Shannon’s in 2007, Dale Nichol’s dramatic oil on canvas titled “Arizona Twilight” showed a substantial increase in price when it crossed the block this time around. Sold in October 2007 to a private collector, the painting had been reconsigned and sold for $72,000.
A selection of Martha Walter paintings met with mixed results, with one of the three pictures failing to meet reserves. “The Blue Umbrella,” however, was hotly competed for and beach scene realized $66,000.
A painting that had hung in New York City’s Russian Tea Room for many years had additional interesting history. Howard McLean’s work “Mott Street Fiesta” was painted in the Ashcan School style. The talented and successful artist had been friends with George Bellows, William Glackens and John Sloan, yet he “eventually became an illustrator and at some point he just fell off the map,” commented Shannon. The moody “Mott Street” oil on canvas did well, selling at $48,000.
Shannon’s has demonstrated strength with paintings executed by Luigi Lucioni, including establishing a record price paid at auction for the artist with a portrait titled “Bob.” Shannon was quick to point out another standout work by Lucioni in the most recent sale, “The Pine Through The Birches.” “‘ ‘Bob’ is as good as it gets in portraits,” said Shannon of Lucioni’s work, “and this is as good as it gets in landscapes.” Bidding on the lot was brisk, with the painting hammering down at $43,200.
“Fruit on a Tabletop,” an oil on canvas measuring 14 by 18 inches, by Robert S. Dunning was a stunning picture with a half-eaten peach in the foreground. It attracted considerable interest, selling at $33,600. A Severin Roesen oil on panel titled “Fruit Still Life with Lemon” sold at $40,800. A rare outdoor still life scene by John Francis, “Cherries in a Basket,” realized $36,000.
Recently discovered in a small Pennsylvania auction was Charles Courtney Curran’s oil on canvas “Playing Red Riding Hood.” Shannon’s termed the 18-by-32-inch painting a “quality Curran”; it sold for $36,000. An Elizabeth Gilbert Jerome painting titled “Tropical Sunset” displayed characteristics of numerous Hudson River Valley School artists and realized $38,400.
Modern art included a Gerald Laing oil on shaped canvas depicting a race car driver that went out at $38,400. Several works by Rolph Scarlett were offered, with a watercolor and gouache abstract painting selling at $12,000. Charles Green Shaw oil on panel titled “Polychrome II” realized $16,800.
Shannon’s next art auction will take place April 26, consignments are currently being accepted. Prices reported include the buyer’s premium.
For additional information, www.shannons.com or 203-877-1711.
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