Published: January 30, 2007
Setting record prices and capturing a new market in early American furniture, Hudson River School paintings and important Americana, Neal Auction Company’s December 2–3 holiday estates sale was considered a huge success. Witnessing considerable international, national and local interest, the auction firm said that the two days of bidding realized a final sale total of $3.2 million.
The sale featured many important examples of American furniture from the early Eighteenth to early Nineteenth Centuries. Owing to the rarity of tiger maple in such a form, an American Chippendale carved maple and tiger maple reverse serpentine chest caught the attention of several serious American furniture collectors. With competing buyers on the telephones, the piece achieved a record price for a tiger maple example, selling for $86,250.
An American Federal mahogany library desk and bookcase attributed to Duncan Phyfe, circa 1790, also sold well, achieving $29,375 against competition from within the salesroom.
Also garnering a great deal of attention, a set of eight Federal carved mahogany side chairs attributed to Henry Connelley, Philadelphia, circa 1795, realized $23,500, after receiving competing bids from both the telephones and the floor.
A rare Federal carved mahogany extension dining table, circa 1815, sold to a collector in the room for $23,500. Given its historic provenance, interest in a “House of Derr” Pennsylvania Dutch dower chest was substantial. The chest brought $21,750. An American classical carved mahogany pedestal cabinet, circa 1830, attributed to Anthony Quervelle, Philadelphia, achieved $14,100.
Leading the auction was a rare collaborative sporting painting by American Impressionist artists Robert Wadsworth Grafton and Louis Oscar Griffith depicting “The Start” of a stakes race at the New Orleans Fair Grounds Racetrack. The monumental painting, measuring more than 13 feet long, had been commissioned for the St Charles Hotel in 1915 when the fair grounds horse racing track, the oldest operating track in the country, reopened after a gambling law was repealed. With interest from several southern institutions, the painting sold to the Morris Museum of Art in Augusta, Ga., for the record price of $278,750.
A selection of Hudson River School paintings offered included oils by Junius Brutus Stearns, Thomas Worthington Wittredge, Edmund C. Coates, David Johnson, William Lewis Sonntag and William Holbrook Beard.
A signed and dated painting of “The Capture of Major John André (1750–1780)” by Stearns depicting one of the more crucial turning-points in America’s War for Independence, sold for $44,650. An uninscribed Wittredge oil titled “Landscape Near Newport” also performed notably. Against a presale auction estimate of $5/7,000, the painting achieved $30,000.
A signed and dated 1854 Coates oil titled “The Hudson River below the Kosciusko Monument at West Point, N.Y.,” received considerable attention as well, with it selling to an absentee bidder for $14,400. The other Coates offered also did well with “View of Hudson Highlands from Fort Putnam, above West Point” selling to one of 12 phone bidders for $15,225.
A signed, inscribed and dated 1858 painting by Johnson depicting “The Side Yard of the Wynkoop House, Marbletown, New York,” which, per its inscription en verso, was “Occupied as a prison during the / sacking of Kingston by the British” in 1777 received its due, realizing $16,450.
“Columbus before the Council of Salamaca” by Robert Walter Weir; “Clement’s Falls, Shelburne, New Hampshire” by Sonntag; “An American Romantic Landscape with Bridges and Waterfall” by Joshua Shaw; “Lake George from Saratoga Side” attributed to Thomas Doughty; “An American Bear Feasting on Grapes” by Beard; and “General Washington’s Headquarters at Newburgh, New York” attributed to Charles Winfield Tice also sold well with prices realized of $10,575, $9,400, $10,575, $2,645, $5,875 and $3,230, respectively.
The auction included several major examples of important Americana, with many items relating directly to the nation’s Founding Fathers. “The Politician: Dr Benjamin Franklin,” a political portrait by Stephen Elmer, circa 1780, achieved $47,000.
A pair of American Federal coin silver presentation canns produced by James Musgrave, Philadelphia, 1797, together with an accompanying highly personalized 1797 autographed bestowal letter from Declaration of Independence signer Thomas McKean, were actively sought after with the lot selling at $47,000.
An 1820 prototype Isaiah Jennings 12-shot repeating rifle, engraved with the serial number “No. 1,” established a Louisiana record price for a firearm sold at auction as it was purchased by a local collector for $34,000.
Several lots of White House Porcelain also sold well, with a pair of Limoges porcelain oyster plates from the White House service of President Rutherford B. Hayes, circa 1880, leading the pack at $3,760.
Artwork in the auction included a Francois-Geoffroi Roux watercolor titled “The William Tell of New Orleans,” dated 1840, that sold at $16,450. An American School, circa 1826–27, miniature portrait of the young “Harriet Beecher” (later Stowe) brought $15,275.
A George Catlin “Portrait of Governor DeWitt Clinton of New York (1769–1828)” achieved $5,875, while a circa 1825 watercolor by Catlin depicting “West Point Military Academy,” went out at $5,400.
The auction also featured Part I of the Charles and Susan Murphy collection of Newcomb Pottery, which included exceptional examples decorated by Anna Frances Simpson, Mary Frances Baker, Henrietta Bailey, Mary Harrison Palfrey, Sadie Irvine, Marie de Hoa LeBlanc, Elizabeth Antoinette Horner, Aurelie Coralie Arbo and Juanita Mauras. The group sold well at $241,860.
Other items of interest included a pair of English 20-inch library globes dated 1850, Newton & Son, London, performed well above estimate and achieved $67,000. Additionally, a George III silver gilt fruit bowl from Robert Hennell I, London (circa 1801) and a Paul Storr silver gilt wine cooler, London, also achieved exceptional results, selling for $11,160 and $9,980, respectively.
Prices realized include the buyer’s premium. For further information contact Neal Auction at 504-899-5329 or www.nealauction.com.
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