Published: April 17, 2018
EAST DENNIS, MASS. – A winter landscape by Nineteenth Century Dutch German artist Barend Cornelis Koekkoek (1803-1862) may have been the top lot at Eldred’s April 6-7 Americana + Paintings auction when it sold for $132,000, but the star of the sale was the collection of Lewis “Julian” Kotekas, an art dealer and collector from Manchester, N.H., which sold for more than double its estimate.
“It was a resounding success and a testament to Julian’s eye,” said Joshua Eldred, president of Eldred’s and head of its fine arts department, speaking about the collection, which included 84 lots of paintings, prints, sculpture and decorative art. Kotekas passed away in 2017 and Eldred’s has handled the bulk of his vast estate in a variety of auctions over the past several months, with the best American pieces grouped together in this sale.
Two of those unsigned Nineteenth Century works, an expansive mountain landscape and a scene of haying in the mountains, flew past their $1/1,500 and $1,5/2,500 estimates to each finish at $25,200. Other highlights include a Tiffany Studios “Greek Key” table lamp, selling for $54,000; two oils by John Ross Key (American, 1837-1920) brought a combined $75,600; and a Cyrus Edwin Dallin (American, 1861-1944) bronze, “On the War Path,” sold for $25,200. Many of the pieces in the collection had never been offered publicly or had been off the market for many years, and it was all offered without reserve, which Eldred said helped generate excitement in the sale.
“It garnered an unprecedented amount of interest from both trade and private buyers, and bidding on nearly every lot was vigorous. Twelve phone bidders chased a Neville T. Johnson view of Mount Chocorua upward of $20,000 on a $3/5,000 estimate, plus there was healthy bidding from the audience and online. Having known Julian for more than a decade, I was thrilled to see his collection perform as well as it did.”
Eldred was also delighted with $132,000 result of the Koekkoek, which came from a private collection in Massachusetts and carried a $30/$50,000 estimate. “It more than exceeded my expectations,” Eldred said. “I thought it was an exceptional price given the current market for European art. It was a fresh-to-market museum-quality work in excellent condition and I’m delighted the buyers responded so positively to it.” Koekkoek was known during his lifetime as the “Prince of Landscape Painting” and is regarded as a founding father of Dutch romantic landscape painting.
Eldred said that provenance plays an important role in today’s market, citing two other private collections featured in the sale – the estate of Ambassador Charles Richard Crane and the Claflin Estate of Marion, Mass. – both of which saw very strong results.
Highlights from the estate of Ambassador Crane (1858-1939), an American businessman and diplomat, included a Russian icon depicting the Theophany, which sold for $13,200 on a $1,5/2,500 estimate, and three lots of Kornilov Bros. porcelain, which brought a combined $3,937, more than three times their estimate. Early textiles and Oriental rugs, however, were the biggest draw from the collection, with an Eighteenth/Nineteenth Century Caucasian embroidery selling for $6,875, a central Asian Suzani bringing $6,250 and a Shirvan rug selling for $3,000. Each were estimated below $1,000.
The top lot from the Claflin estate, which Bill Bourne, head of Eldred’s Americana department, described as “a really nice batch of mostly New England antiques and accessories,” was a portrait of a young woman attributed to Zedekiah Belknap (New England, 1781-1858), which brought $9,600 on a $5/7,000 estimate. An early Nineteenth Century fire bucket with spread-wing eagle decoration brought $7,200; a New Hampshire tall case clock by Elisha Smith, Jr realized $3,900; and a lot of 11 pieces of blown glass closed at $2,875, all exceeding expectations. “It’s getting rarer to see this kind of old estate collection,” Bourne said. “Bidding was energetic, and prices were good across the board.”
Both Eldred and Bourne mentioned how encouraged they were by strong prices on American furniture, including pieces from the Claflin estate. A Hepplewhite secretary brought $2,750 on a $900-$1,200 estimate and a Hepplewhite lolling chair sold within estimate for $1,320. The sale’s top furniture lot was a Seymour sideboard, which brought $19,200, followed by a Queen Anne bonnet-top highboy, which sold for $13,200. A pair of Regency-style girandole mirrors sold above estimate for $3,900, and a two-drawer stand, also attributed to Seymour, sold within estimate for $4,800. “Many of the furniture lots were purchased by new bidders, which is a nice thing to see,” Eldred remarked.
More than 550 bidders took part in the auction. Other highlights from the sale included an abstract “Flight Form” by Charles Green Shaw (New York, 1892-1974), which sold for $15,600, a Newport, R.I., needlework sampler, which brought $4,800, an illustration of factory workers by Gordon Ross (California/Scotland, 1873-1946), which sold for $11,400, and a Pauline Lennards Palmer (1867-1938) oil depicting three women, which brought $15,600.
The firm’s Summer Americana sale is scheduled for August 1-3 and will feature a large collection of Native American material, as well as items from the noted folk art collection of Carl and Sonia Schmitt, showcasing a cigar store figure of Punch and an L.W. Cushing & Son gilt grasshopper weathervane. Consignments for the summer sale are still being accepted. The firm’s next auction, its Spring Asian Art Sale, will be conducted May 3-4. Both sales will be conducted at the firm’s headquarters.
Quoted prices include buyer’s premium and any applicable internet surcharge.
Eldred’s is at 1483 MA-6A. For more information 508-385-3116 or www.eldreds.com.
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