Published: November 9, 2021
Review by W.A. Demers, Photos Courtesy South Bay Auctions
EAST MORICHES, N.Y. – Featuring lots from New York estates and collections, South Bay Auctions presented a sale on October 30 that filled its gallery with paintings, prints, sculpture, antique American, English and continental furniture and decorations, nautical fare and more. The sell-through rate on 200 lots was 94 percent, according to auction house owner Jean-Paul Napoli, who added that 99 percent of the sale came from New York estates and collections, either directly or through pickers, with the largest estate represented being that of William Kranker, a collector and dealer from Greenport, N.Y.
Leading the auction was an oil on canvas by British artist Tristram Hillier (1905-1983), “Hommage à André Simon,” 1957, which surprised when it shot way past its $4/6,000 estimate to sell for $82,500 to a private online buyer. The oil on canvas, signed by monogram “TH” and dated upper right, measured 24 by 32 inches. Purchased by the consignor from a Long Island estate, the work was described by author Jenny Pery, who wrote, “Hillier was a serious connoisseur of wine,” adding that “‘Hommage à André Simon’ was inspired by a luncheon hosted that year by a new admirer, George Rainbird.” Hillier’s daughter, Anna-Clare Hillier, confirmed this, saying that the painting “was commissioned by George Rainbird, the publisher, and the bottles were consumed during the course of a long lunch. Among the guests was André Simon.” Simon (1877-1970) was a French-born wine merchant, gourmet and prolific writer about wine.
Fine art was plentiful in this sale, and etchings by blue-chip British and American artists found favor with bidders. An etching by David Hockney (British, b 1937) outperformed its $2/4,000 estimate to finish at $7,900. ”Gregory,” 1974, in colors on wove paper, pencil signed and dated, had an embossed copyright symbol at lower right margin and was numbered ”AP” in pencil lower left. Framed under glass, the 27-by-21¼-inch print had been acquired by the consignor from Maurice Payne of Petersburg Press.
A group of three etchings on wove paper from Donald Judd’s (American, 1928-1994) untitled (suite of 16 etchings), 1977-78, simple rectangular lines evoking boxes, reached $7,250. Each print was pencil signed, dated and numbered ”P.P. 2/6” at lower right. Printed by Styria Studio, New York, with their blindstamp lower left, the series was published by the artist.
“Portrait of Captain William Hansford, R.N.,” attributed to Thomas Beach (British, 1738-1806), more than tripled its high estimate of $2,000 to bring $6,480. Depicting a stern Royal Navy captain leaning against a rocky outcrop with a seascape in the background, this 50-by-40-inch oil on canvas was unsigned and came with provenance to Arthur Ackerman & Son, ex collection William Woodward.
Noted for his canine portraiture, English artist Reuben Ward Binks (1880-1950) was represented in the sale by a gouache on board depicting four dogs in a meadow with attentive poses. Titled “Me Too,” the work depicted a group of four pedigreed black Labradors owned by Jay F. Carlisle (esteemed breeder and exhibitor of black labs) and his wife Mary Pinkerton Carlisle (daughter of Pinkerton’s National Detective Agency founder) of East Islip, N.Y. Signed and dated lower right in gouache, the dogs’ names were inscribed along bottom, left to right, “Ch. Drinkstone Pons,” “Ch. Drinkstone Peg,” and “Bancstone Lorna,” with the fourth dog’s name “Pontoon of Wingan” included on plaque along with title and the other names. It was estimated just $400/600 but sold for $4,440.
From four dogs to four schooners, Thomas H. Willis’ (Danish-American, 1850-1925) “Sandy Hook,” harbor scene with four schooners at full sail and Sandy Hook pilot boat took $3,720. The oil on canvas with applied silk sails was unsigned and measured 20¾ by 43 inches.
A Stephen Westfall (American, b 1953) oil on canvas outperformed its $800-$1,000 estimate, topping off at $3,750. Titled “Peter’s Pond,” 1995, the minimalist oil on canvas, signed, titled and dated on canvas verso, unframed, sported an Andre Emmerich gallery label to stretcher verso and measured 48 by 64 inches.
Patrick Procktor (British, 1936-2003), a key figure in the bohemian set of London in the 1960s, sketched a supine figure in “Blue Jeans,” 1966. The minimalist watercolor and pencil attained a maximalist price of $3,625 against a $400/600 estimate. Signed and dated lower right, it measured 14 by 19½ inches.
Rounding out the fine art highlights was a Nineteenth Century oil on canvas, initialed “J.R.” and depicting a man in turban and livery uniform. Fetching $3,125, more than twice its high estimate, the oil on canvas was dated “99” lower left and measured 17½ by 22 inches.
Interesting miliaria lots from the Greenport, N.Y., estate of collector and dealer William Kranker included an early iron cannon with 3¼-inch bore and 2¾-inch diameter trunnions. Weathered, lacking its carriage and measuring 41 inches overall, the cannon sold for $3,360. From the same source came a US Coast Guard brass cannon jumping its $800-$1,200 estimate to finish at $3,000.
Two early telescopes got paddles wagging. A Bardou & Son telescope estimated $400/600 brought $3,480. The brass three-drawer instrument featured rack and pinion focus, dust slides to the eyepiece and was marked on backplate “Bardou & Son, Paris, G.B. Trademark.” The scope came mounted on wood tripod with a crank. Also, an Eighteenth Century James Champney brass tabletop reflector telescope with spotter and rack and pinion focusing was bid to $3,125, five times its high estimate. Signed on backplate “James Champneys, Fleet Street, London” and set on tripod, it also came from the Kranker estate.
Bidders were perhaps anticipating the upcoming late fall and winter holidays when they pushed a large English oak drop-leaf gateleg dining table from a $500/700 expectation to a final price of $2,875.
An autograph manuscript by Robert Louis Stevenson (Scottish, 1850-1894) checked off the literary box, garnering $2,625 above its $400/600 estimate. It comprised an unsigned fragment from In the South Seas (published 1896), Chapter VI, “Graveyard Stories,” together with cabinet card portrait of the author, circa 1890s, by James Notman Studio of Boston and came from a Long Island estate.
Rounding out the highlights was a 55-inch-high Georgian carved giltwood mirror having scrolled broken arch pediment centering a cartouche, rectangular plate flanked by carved drapery and tassels, the bottom with a central shell. It left the gallery at five times its estimate, selling for $2,375.
Pleased with the sale’s results, Napoli commented afterwards, “It was as predictably unpredictable as auctions go nowadays.” Prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house.
Next up for South Bay is its holiday sale, Saturday, December 4, with a large number of silver and jewelry lots. “We’re also working with the estate of Laura Fisher and are preparing for a single-owner sale in the spring of 2022,” said Napoli. For information, 631-878-2909 or www.southbayauctions.com.
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