Published: May 15, 2001
NEW YORK CITY – On May 1, Doyle New York offered a sale of Modern and Contemporary prints, followed by an auction of Rare Books, Autographs and Maps. The most anticipated lot of the sale was a print by Maurice Brazil Prendergast (American, 1859-1924), an artist whose prints are rarely seen on the auction market, that sold for $91,750.
Prendergast is perhaps best known for his outdoor scenes of elegant women and children. The top lot of the sale was his color monotype, “Recess,” which characteristically depicts children playing outside. Prendergast worked with monotypes between 1891-1902, and it is believed that he executed this work circa 1895-1897. He created monotypes by painting oil on a smooth copper plate, then placing a sheet of fine quality Japan paper on the plate and pressing down (probably with a spoon), to transfer the oil image to the sheet. After printing the image, Prendergast sometimes made additions in graphite, as he did with “Recess.”
Additional highlights included a color lithograph by Marc Chagall (French, 1887-1985), “The Orchard,” from Daphnis and Chloe, which sold for $28,750, and a color lithograph after Chagall by Charles Sorlier, “Sunset,” that brought $10,925. Also performing well was a color lithograph poster by Jacques Villon (French, 1875-1963), “Guinguette Fleurie” that achieved $19,550, and an early pochoir by Joan Miro (Spanish, 1893-1983), with a fresh colors and in excellent condition, “Cashiers d’Art,” that realized $17,250.
American historical manuscripts brought strong prices at the sale. In particular, a letter from George Washington, dated February 7, sold well over its $2/4,000 pre-sale estimate, for $11,500. According to Jerry E. Patterson, Doyle New York’s Specialist for the sale, this letter was consigned directly from the descendants of Colonel Elias Dayton, a distinguished patriot and soldier of New Jersey in the Revolutionary War.
It is an important manuscript because, not only has it never been on the open market, but also the subject matter relates to the War of Independence in New Jersey under Washington’s command. Specifically, the letter is addressed to the Commanding Officer of the New Jersey troops ordering him to bring his forces to Morristown, N.J., to relieve troops stationed at Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.
Another letter dated November 1780, sold well over its $3/5,000 estimate, for $10,350. The letter was written to the Commanding Officer of the New Jersey Brigade ordering him to march immediately to West Point to defend it against British troops moving up the Hudson River.
Other top lots from this section of the sale included a signed letter by Abraham Lincoln to A. Morton, signed 10 January 1863, thanking his correspondent for a gift. It sold over estimate for $8,625.
Additionally, a document by Thomas Jefferson signed 19 November 1806, granting 100 acres of land in the Northwest Territory to revolutionary soldier Robert Tompkins, and counter-signed by James Madison, realized $2,990.
Noteworthy among the books offered in the sale was a monograph of the Odontophorinae, or Partridges of America, by the famous bird artist, John Gould (1804-1881). The book, which is in beautiful condition, contains 32 hand colored plates, and was published in London by the author in 1850. This book is unusual in that Gould is best known for illustrating birds of Britain, not America. As a result, it brought a strong price of $19,550.
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