Published: July 31, 2007
Record prices paid at auction were established during an action-packed sale on Wednesday, July 26, conducted by Stephen O’Brien, Jr, and his crew at Copley Fine Art Auctions. The sporting sale, the auction firm’s second sale in its brief history, was attended by a large and active crowd. The auction house reported a great deal of interest expressed in a wide variety of items, and especially heavy activity was witnessed at the upper tier of the merchandise offered.
Unlike the two other major auction houses that were conducting sales in the region during the same period, Copley distinguishes itself with a top-shelf selection of paintings being sold alongside a strong assortment of decoys and sporting-related items.
The first lot to establish a record price paid at auction was an Elmer Crowell decorative curlew in a bold running pose. A large carving for Crowell, the exquisitely painted shorebird measured 17 inches from the tip of its bill to the tail. An early example of the carver’s work, the decorative shorebird carving was said to have been executed circa 1912. Bidding on the lot opened at $40,000 and progressed steadily with a host of telephone bidders keeping the action alive. Three bidders were still active as the lot crossed the $100,000 mark, with it finally selling to the telephone at $186,500.
Other carvings that did well included an Elmer Crowell life-sized woodcock carving selling at $66,125, and a Joseph Lincoln brant hammered down at $48,300.
Lynn Bogue Hunt paintings took top billing during the second session of the auction featuring paintings and prints. Two works sold exceeded the previous record for the artist, each more than doubling his previous high water mark. A rare gouache executed for Remington/UMC, titled “Bobwhite Covey,” 1916, depicted several startled birds winging toward the viewer from an autumn cornfield with an alert English setter pointing from behind. The artwork was used on a calendar for Remington/UMC and proved to be the most popular image in the company’s history. It is also believed to be the most reproduced sporting image of all time. Bidding on the lot was brisk, with it selling at $92,000.
The top Lynn Bogue Hunt lot came as a surprise to many at the sale, although it is surmised that the crowd’s waterfowl/upland hunting mentality overshadowed the lot. “Blue-Fin Tuna,” an 18-by-24-inch oil on canvas, depicted a large tuna in the foreground breaking a wave and about to strike a lure that had been cast from a fishing boat in the background. Estimated at $15/20,000, the painting, consigned from a private Texas collector, was actively bid, with it selling for a record price of $126,000.
A complete report of the auction will appear in a future issue.
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