Published: August 9, 2021
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Catalog Photos Courtesy Eldred’s
EAST DENNIS, MASS. – Regardless of whatever market works of art and antiques are offered in, the rule one can nearly always put money on is that exceptional things bring exceptional prices. So, Josh Eldred was not too surprised that Eldred’s three-day Summer Sale July 28-30 did as well as it did, with the sale exceeding expectations and bringing $2.4 million in total.
“Yes, we’re very pleased. I knew it was an exceptional group of things so wasn’t too surprised at the results. I was particularly happy with the results on Nineteenth Century art, which was very encouraging.”
He had the right to be encouraged, with a moonlit seascape by Edward Henry Potthast (American, 1857-1927) bringing $162,500 from an estimate of $20/30,000 after a battle between three phone bidders and online competition; a phone bidder in the United States prevailed. The work had been off the market since the 1980s, when it was acquired at auction by the Boston collector who consigned it to Eldred’s.
Two whiteline woodblock prints done in 1945 by Blanche Lazzell (American, 1878-1956) shared the distinction of each bringing $150,000, which was the second highest price in the sale. Eldred noted that both were in exceptional condition. The works had come from the Provincetown, Mass., estate of Hilary Bamford and both were purchased by the same buyer who was, perhaps coincidentally, from Provincetown. “My Wharf Studio” and “Provincetown Water Front” each measured 19½ by 21¼ inches in the frame and had carried estimates of $35/45,000.
Bamford’s estate was also the source of “The Shoregoing Sailor,” a whiteline print by Bror Julius Olsson Nordfeldt (American/Sweden, 1878-1955), which is included in Fiona I. Donovan’s The Woodblock Prints of B.J.O. Nordfeldt: A Catalogue Raisonne. Eldred said it was a rare print and his team had not been able to find any examples of it selling at auction previously, so they put “an attractive” estimate of $3/5,000 on it; it sold to a phone bidder for $87,500.
Another artist represented by two works in the sale was Alexandre Evgenevich Yakovlev (Massachusetts / Russian Federation, 1887-1938); both were consigned from a Boston-area collection, and both had provenance to Alexandra Yakovleva, the sister of the artist. Each outpaced expectations and each sold to European buyers bidding on the phone. A 29-by-21½-inch charcoal and pastel on paper profile portrait of an African tribal chief from 1925 finished at $100,000, ten times its low estimate. Yakovlev’s “Portrait of a seated Sumo Wrestler,” which was done in sanguine on paper, finished at $81,250. Eldred deemed them each “wonderful and historically important.”
The result of several works with nautical and maritime interest – offered a few weeks ahead of Eldred’s Marine Sale – gives reassuring signs of strength in that market. Two paintings by Ralph Cahoon (Massachusetts, 1910-1982) both exceeded expectations, with “Cape Cod Patchwork Co., Inc.,” sewing up at $43,750 and “Cape Cod Sea Captains” sailing to $37,500. “The Cahoon market is coming back,” Eldred said. “It was flat for awhile but we’re starting to see new buyers.” He noted that both works were purchased by existing Eldred’s clients who were making their first Cahoon purchases. A small 13-inch diameter circular composition by Cahoon featured a ship and a lighthouse and finished at $11,250 against an estimate of $4/6,000.
With her death in 2020, Sandy Moran’s intricately worked sailor’s valentines are now in limited supply and, consequently, high demand. The sale offered five lots of them, with an octagonal example centering an American ship within an intricate compass-rose pattern of shells bringing $16,250 from a $3/5,000 estimate.
“Portrait of the Gold Rush steamer Wilson G. Hunt” by John and James Beard (New York, 1815-1897) was from the Kelton Collection, which Eldred’s has been selling for a couple of years. A lengthy catalog essay delineated the provenance of the painting and included the Mariner’s Museum in Newport News, Va., and a sale at Northeast Auctions in Portsmouth, N.H. According to the catalog essay, the painting, which was included in J&J Bard Picture Painters by Anthony J. Peluso (Hudson River Press, 1977), was one of the last paintings signed by both John and James Bard; after March of 1850, James was the only brother who signed the paintings and there is speculation that John left his brother to seek a fortune in the Gold Rush. An American buyer paid $40,625 for it.
Eldred’s offered nearly two dozen lots from India House, an organization and private social club in lower Manhattan devoted to the promotion of foreign trade that has a known collection of Maritime, Asian and New York Art. Eldred’s offered a dozen lots from India House in its Spring Asian auction and will be offering more in its upcoming Marine sale. Leading the offerings from India House was a circa 1922 specimen cabinet with 30 labeled drawers containing specimens and samples that had been presented to James A. Farrell. Estimated at $1,5/2,000, interest quickly pushed bidding up and it closed at $20,000 to a buyer in New England.
Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house.
Eldred’s will conduct its Marine Sale August 19-20.
For more information, 508-385-3116 or www.eldreds.com.
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