Published: September 25, 2007
Auctioneer Kaja Veilleux and his crew at Thomaston Place Auction Galleries welcomed more than 850 people to the auction preview during the week leading up to their annual two-day September auction. The sale, September 1′, featured just over 1,000 lots and spirited bidding was recorded across the boards with huge numbers of phone and absentee bidders competing with a standing-room-only crowd.
A twilight preview reception on Thursday evening, August 30, set the tone for the sale as the gallery was filled to the brim and enthusiasm was high. “The tremendous preview traffic undoubtedly led to strong participation by bidders from the auction house floor,” commented Veilleux. While the gallery welcomes and encourages telephone and Internet bidding, the overflow crowd that attended the auction “took home a healthy share of the merchandise,” stated Veilleux. “The face-to-face interaction with active bidders was quite invigorating,” he said.
A varied range of merchandise included a good selection of paintings, including numerous important marine examples, a nice assortment of furniture, good estate jewelry and an interesting selection of porcelains ranging from Chinese Export to Liverpool. As always, the merchandise offered at the Thomaston sale is drummed from local homes, either by Kaja and his crew, or by a host of local pickers that often times feed the gallery with select trinkets.
The top lot of the auction came as a surprise to many in the gallery as a set of four British steeplechase scenes by Samuel Henry Alken was offered. With each of the scenes featuring fallen riders and their tumbling horses that failed to clear hedgerows or ravines †much to the delight of spectators †the lot carried a presale estimate of $25/30,000. Bidding on the lot was brisk with it hammering down at $60,500.
An easel study of goslings by Jamie Wyeth with two renditions on a single sheet was another of the lots to handily exceed estimates. Provenance on the pencil signed lot listed it as a gift to the consignor from the artist. Estimated at $8/12,000, the lot left the auction block after spirited bidding at $23,100.
A dramatic watercolor by John Whorf titled “Moonpath #3, Schooner Island” depicted a monochromatic moonlit scene of a tender tied alongside a schooner. The 32-by-39-inch piece, which sold at $22,000, was described as being in untouched condition. A monumental German gouache titled “The Lichtenstein Caf_, 7 Dec” by Christian Wilhelm Faber du Faur, a lieutenant in Napoleon’s Grand Army during the Invasion of Russia, also sold at $22,000. Part of a series of paintings that were later produced as lithographs, the work depicted the ragged remnant’s of an artillery regiment attempting to regroup.
Marine paintings attracted a great deal of interest with portrait of Glory of the Seas by Maine artist Percy Sanborn selling above estimates as it garnered a final bid of $38,500. An oil on canvas by Antonio Jacobsen depicted the unusual steam/sail ship Adula under full sail with three masts flying six sails above the lanky freighter-style vessel. Consigned from a home on Cape Cod, the painting sold at $22,000.
A portrait of the schooner John J. Hanson by William Pierce Stubbs depicted the vessel sailing past a spit of land with a lighthouse. Consigned from a Bath, Maine, estate, the painting sold at $19,800. A set of four rare Chinese Export watercolor ship portraits, circa 1840, mounted as pairs with two images per frame, had also been consigned from a Cape Cod home. Nicely matted and framed, the pair sold at $15,400.
Two marine paintings that sold at $11,000 each included an oil on canvas portrait of the Ella M. Willey by William Pierce Stubbs and a portrait of the Blue Star Line steamship freighter Antinoni by Edouard Adam.
Other marine-related items included a whale ivory pie crimper in the form of a seahorse that hammered down at $8,800, a scrimshawed whale tooth with engraving of a female pirate, $6,600, and another whale’s tooth with horse and rider that sold for $3,300.
A good selection of Liverpool was sold, with a large pitcher decorated on each side with sailing ships flying American flags and the central panel bearing the Seal of the United States selling at $6,600. A 9-inch-high Liverpool pitcher with ships transfers sold at $4,950, another 9-inch pitcher with ships had a small repair and brought $2,750, and a large 6-inch-tall mug with a sailing ship flying the American flag realized $3,630.
The top lot of the furniture offered came as a boudoir desk with applied Favrile glass accents designed by Tiffany Studios was sold. The desk, in the Art Nouveau style, was made for Sarah Hanley, who was described in literature Veilleux had compiled to accompany the desk, as Tiffany’s mistress.
“Following the death of his second wife, [Louis Comfort] Tiffany turned to drinking and took up with Sarah Eileen ‘Patsy’ Hanley, described as an ‘adventurous redhead’ from Ireland,” stated the paperwork. The desk, designed with Favrile glass iridescent scarabs incorporated into the applied foliate decoration on the fall front, glass pulls on the serpentine front drawers and bronze rosette knobs on the interior drawers, was more than likely a production piece of furniture with accents added by Tiffany.
The desk had been used in the Oyster Bay home that Tiffany provided for Patsy, whose relationship with the artisan had been aptly summed up by one descendant: “Patsy got him off booze and on her.”
A wonderfully controversial lot that Veilleux had plenty of fun with, it carried a presale estimate of $5/7,000 and had been consigned from a home in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. Bidding on the lot was brisk, with it selling at $34,100.
“The Washington Chair” was another lot in the auction to attract serious attention. A ball and claw foot carved mahogany Chippendale armchair, it had descended in the Meade family and had come from the bedroom on their estate at Dawsfield where George and Martha Washington often stayed while visiting. Cataloged as “in fine untouched condition,” the chair doubled presale estimates as it hammered down at $27,750.
A nice Rhode Island Eighteenth Century wingchair did well, selling at $7,700, while a country Chippendale tiger maple slant front desk with blocked interior seemed a bargain at $3,300.
Eagles were offered in a variety of forms and the prices achieved were solid. A monumental calligraphy that was termed a “remarkable and rare example of Civil War vintage patriotic penmanship” sold for $20,900, while a large pair of carved spread winged eagles facing each other brought $14,300.
A carved and painted eagle by John Bellamy failed to elicit the strong bids that other examples sold at Thomaston Place have in the past. This white painted eagle with a banner that read “Don’t Give Up The Ship” had been consigned from a Massachusetts home and had several condition problems. Bidding on the lot ended at $13,750. A nice pilot’s house eagle consigned from a Cape Cod home sold at $8,580, and a patriotic themed sand-filled bottle with eagle decoration realized $3,850 despite some small areas of distortion resulting from shifting sands.
An early Korean carved jade urn in bulbous form with vertical square-formed handles came as quite a surprise. Estimated at $800․1,200, the lot was chased by a host of clients, with it leaving the block at $29,150.
A pair of Nineteenth Century Chinese garden seats in the famille rose pattern went out at $7,150, while pair of Rose Medallion garden seats realized $4,510. Chinese Export tureens in the famille rose pattern also did well, with a large example with undertray selling at 3,850, while a pair of smaller tureens with undertrays brought $3,300.
Estate-fresh jewelry commanded a great deal of interest with a platinum, sapphire and diamond bracelet selling at $25,300, a Tiffany 18K gold lady’s ring with a cushion-cut 2.5-carat green demantoid garnet flanked by pinkish red rubies bringing $15,400, and a gem-studded bumblebee brooch hammered down for $13,200.
Prices include the ten percent buyer’s premium charged. For information, 207-354-8141, or www.thomastonauction.com .
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