Published: February 19, 2019
Review and Onsite Photos by Rick Russack
BEVERLEY, MASS. – Kaminski’s February 2-3 sale got off to a slow start but really picked up steam the second day. Plaster reliefs, Modernist paintings and other works of art led the sale, including a watercolor by Frederic Remington, a collection of bronzes from the studio of Kahlil Gibran, jewelry and more. It would have been a good day to buy American furniture as prices were soft. The crowd in the salesroom was light but internet and phone lines were busy both days. Kaminski sales include a variety of offerings. Much of the material comes from wealthy families in Florida and California, and auctioneer Frank Kaminski often includes high-end contemporary furnishings in his sales.
The highest priced lot was an abstract plaster relief by John Ferren (1905-1970), no. 29, signed and dated 1937. It was one of two in the sale and brought more than twice the estimate, finishing at $69,600. The other, no. 33, also signed and dated 1937, sold for $52,800. As a young man, Ferren was apprenticed to a stonecutter in San Francisco and later went to Paris to study art where he associated with Miro, Mattise and Picasso, who became a mentor. He was well thought of by his contemporaries, and his works today are in the collections of several museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Smithsonian Art Museum and others. Prior to the sale, Kaminski said that he expected that the two works would do well, based upon presale interest.
Other works of art were also among the higher priced lots of the sale. “Early Snow,” a winter scene by Antonio P. Martino (1902-1989), signed and dated 1929, realized $18,600, more than three times the estimate. The artist, whose works are in more than 25 public collections, originally studied at the Pennsylvania Museum School of Industrial Art, the Philadelphia Sketch Club, and much of his work was done in the area around New Hope, Penn. Also finishing over estimate, selling for $15,600, was “Gloucester Harbor, Town Landing,” by Rockport artist Emile A. Gruppe (1896-1978). The oil on canvas was signed and dated 1948. A Peter Max (b 1937) acrylic on canvas, signed and dated 2004, also exceeded the estimate, finishing at $10,800.
Perhaps a bargain in the painting category was a watercolor and gouache of a mounted Comanche brave, signed and dated 1890 by Frederic Remington (1861-1909). The Comanche was seated on a grey horse and displayed blankets and a rifle. The painting sold under the estimate, finishing at $4,500.
The buyer of a large poster advertising Job cigarette papers by Alphonse Mucha, (1860-1939), an iconic work of the Art Nouveau period, believed that he got a good buy on the poster. He paid $2,520 for it and left immediately afterwards. On his way out, he was asked if he thought the poster was of the period, and he said that he was certain that it was. “I’ve been collecting for more than 30 years and I know this one is right. It was a good buy.” The poster was created circa 1897. Mucha came to fame in the mid-1890s, when he created several posters for actress Sarah Bernhardt. An original signed ink drawing by Charles Schulz for a Peanuts comic strip, depicting the seven lead characters sold for $2,160.
Frank Kaminski was a friend of the family of sculptor Kahlil Gibran (1922-2008), and several works by him were included in this sale. The artist, who was related to the famous poet, author of The Prophet, Gibran Kahlil Gibran was a member of the “Boston Expressionists” and worked in a variety of mediums. He spent most of his life in Boston and studied at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, working first as a painter and later gaining a reputation as maker of musical instruments. Several of his larger works are in public places in the Boston area and there have been numerous exhibitions of his works. Prices Kaminski achieved were strong and may have set new records for the artist. Two of the works, a signed bronze head on a wooden base and a signed head of a woman each achieved $9,000. Each was about 15 inches tall. The sculptor’s widow has recently sold the Boston home they lived in for many years. The molds for the sculptures will be destroyed so that there will not be any confusion about when pieces were created.
Early American furniture was soft, but a heavily carved Horner Brothers library table with griffins and a carved top realized $4,920 on the first day. Also sold on the first day was a Nineteenth Century mahogany chest on chest that went for $1,200 and a step back cupboard with original glass in the doors, which went for just $600. A Salem Nineteenth Century mahogany drop leaf table with rope-turned legs went for just $180.
A selection of Asian items was well received. An early carved stone Buddha from Kashmir, cataloged as Tenth Century realized $4,200, and a large Eighteenth Century Chinese copper on enamel vase, decorated with the “Hundred Deer” motif, earned $4,200. A Ming dynasty pottery Zhenwu figure, 31 inches tall, realized $3,600. A large Rose Mandarin punch bowl with a 15½-inch diameter and exceptionally well-painted figures brought $1,440.
A few days after the sale, Frank Kaminski said, “Some things, like the Ferren reliefs, attracted the right people, and some things, like the American furniture, didn’t. Art in general was strong. Some of the better paintings came from a Boston financial institution, and the Gibran bronzes were fresh to the market. There was good interest in some of the Asian items, like the large Ming Zhenwu figure that brought more than we expected. All in all, it was a good sale. I was glad to see some new faces in the audience and the bidding was strong for the quality upholstered furniture.”
Prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house.
For additional information, www.kaminskiauctions.com or 978-927-2223.
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