Published: March 22, 2022
Review by W.A. Demers, Photos Courtesy Alderfer Auction
HATFIELD, PENN. – Alderfer’s March 10 auction featured fine and decorative arts, silver, jewelry, furniture and rugs, with art highlights including Fern Isabel Coppedge, Daniel Garber, Joseph Leyendecker, Laurence Campbell, Walter E. Baum and others. The sale was particularly strong in Pennsylvania Impressionist paintings, created by artists who in the first half of the Twentieth Century were centered in and around Bucks County, Penn., particularly the town of New Hope. The movement is sometimes referred to as the “New Hope School” or the “Pennsylvania School” of landscape painting.
“There were about a half dozen or so of Pennsylvania Impressionists that came from one collection,” said Brent Souter. “A couple had collected them, and the woman’s husband had passed away 16 years ago and she felt that this was time to let them go. And many of them had strong provenance, for example to Bianco Gallery, which has been out of business for about 20 years, Jim’s of Lambertville, the Peterson Gallery in Lambertville. Some fresh items to the market.”
The overall sale dispersed 250 of the 258 lots on offer, hosting 1,376 registered bidders on two online platforms.
On the cusp of spring, Fern Isabel Kuns Coppedge’s (1883-1951) oil on canvas, “Green and Gold,” a winter landscape of a snow-covered Boxwood, reminded bidders of the lingering transition and her love for the estate. In 1917, Coppedge made her first visit to Pennsylvania, falling instantly in love with its quaint hills and towns. During her three decades in Pennsylvania, Coppedge maintained homes and studios in Philadelphia, Lumberville and New Hope, including Boxwood, the early American-style stone house and studio Fern designed and built with architect Henry T. MacNeill in New Hope in 1929. Over the years, Fern painted dozens of pictures of Boxwood (also known as “Boxwood Studio” where she conducted many exhibitions). Estimated $20/30,000, the painting, 20 by 24 inches, signed lower right, sold for $57,000, going into a private collection in Upper Bucks County.
Another Coppedge oil on canvas, “Sailboats, Gloucester,” showed that she was equally adept at painting harbor scenes. This one, depicting a variety of sailing ships, was signed lower left and measured 14 by 16 inches. It sold for $16,800. “Typically, the Gloucester scenes don’t fetch as much,” said Souter.
Laurence A. Campbell, a modern painter whose snow-covered cities are depicted in the impressionist style, was born in Philadelphia in 1939. He studied architecture at Temple University, leading to the establishment of his own construction firm, also restoring artwork. Starting to paint commissions requested by clients for reproductions of their favorite works, he established his own gallery in 1970 and continued depicting his own favored subjects, scenes of city high rises in various seasons. In this sale, one of his oils on canvas, “The canal at Lumberville in Winter,” a snowy landscape of the canal, 16 by 20 inches, realized $14,400. His oil on canvas, “Evie Painting by the Canal,” an Impressionist landscape featuring his wife, went out at $6,000.
Another leading light of the New Hope School, Walter Emerson Baum (1884-1956), was represented in the sale by “The Brook,” a wintry landscape with the sun reflecting off the water. Signed lower left and measuring 25 by 30 inches, it was bid to $12,000.
Fetching the same amount was a double-sided canvas by Charles William Ward (1900-1962). On one side of the oil on canvas was “Prestons Tin Shop, House and Barn,” depicting the titled house and buildings. On the other side was a female nude. Both were signed and measured 34 by 38 inches and 26 by 30, respectively. Souter pointed out that this painting was featured in a retrospective exhibit at the Michener Museum.
Pennsylvania Impressionism gave way to its French counterpart with Mary Elizabeth Price’s (1877-1965) oil on canvas, “Avignon from the Ville Neuve,” a sprawling landscape overlooking the town in southern France, which earned $7,000. Price was an early member of the Philadelphia Ten, organizing several of the group’s exhibitions.
“Little Wills Limekiln,” a landscape with a view of someone working the kiln by William Langson Lathrop (1859-1938), American Impressionist landscape painter and founder of the art colony at New Hope, sold for $8,400. The oil on canvas was signed lower right and measured 22 by 25 inches.
German-American illustrator Joseph Christian Leyendecker (1874-1951, considered one of the preeminent American illustrators of the early Twentieth Century, brought $6,000 for his oil on canvas study of General Douglas MacArthur, circa 1943. This final version eventually became part of nationally known “Leyendecker MacArthur Series” by Timken Roller Bearing Company. Unsigned and the bottom border featuring a pair cat sketches, the portrait was 22¼ by 14 inches overall.
Sculptural and decorative arts highlights in the sale included a Harry Bertoia (1915-1978) bronze and copper “Sonambient” sculpture, circa 1970s, designed with rows of 27 rods in a “V” configuration, it was purchased directly from Bertoia Studios. Includes certificate of authenticity from Bertoia Studios, 23 inches high, it left the gallery at $24,000.
A Claude Conover (1907-1994) “Hool” vessel, glazed stoneware with engobe decoration, signed and titled to base, 26 inches high, surpassed its high estimate to finish at $13,200. And a Rene Lalique Vitesse car mascot sold for $12,000. The Art Deco opalescent glass hood ornament of a nude female was molded “R. Lalique” and “France” at the base.
Complementing the Pennsylvania Impressionist paintings in this sale were a couple of Nakashima-style furniture pieces by Gino Russo. A live edge walnut dining table featured a single-board top with pierced supports, one leaf and was signed and dated 1972. It surpassed its high estimate by nearly a factor of ten, going out at $20,400. The craftsman’s live edge walnut hanging cabinet also outperformed, garnering $18,000 against $1/2,000 estimate. The hand crafted cabinet with live edge featured a figured walnut top over six doors, the outer doors with pierced decoration and open to reveal shelf space, the middle doors with carved scalloped decoration and open to reveal four drawers. The piece was signed and dated 1972 and measured 20½ by 88 by 20 inches.
“The item that surprised us the most was the Gino Russo dining room set,” said Souter. “A lesser known craftsman that apprenticed in the Nakashima workshop, and there are not a whole lot of comparable records of sale for his work.” There were bidders from Florida and Bucks County that were competing – one person was going to use it as a dining table, the other was going to use it as a desk. The dining table went to Florida and the console ended up staying in Bucks County.
Small in stature but not in price, a miniature rolltop desk took $6,000 against its $1/2,000 estimate, It was inlaid with cross banding and parquetry, stood on tapered legs, with two drawers below a roll top, which opened to a pull-out, felt-covered writing surface and fitted interior, below another drawer and brass gallery.
Prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. The next fine arts auction is set for June 9. For information, 215-393-3000 or www.alderferauction.com.
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