Published: November 7, 2023
Review by W.A. Demers; Photos Courtesy Shannon’s Fine Art Auctioneers
MILFORD, CONN. — Shannon’s Fine Art Auctioneers presented a fine art auction on October 26, showcasing fresh-to-the-market artworks offered from numerous private collections, including prized pieces by renowned artists such as Frederick Carl Frieseke, Norman Rockwell, Scott Kahn, Winfred Rembert, Thomas Cole and many others. Frieseke’s elegant “Lady Trying on a Hat,” a masterpiece of American Impressionism, led the day, selling for $450,000, well above its predicted high of $350,000. Exhibited at the Carnegie Institute in 1909 and at the National Academy of Design the same year, the work carried provenance extending all the way back to the artist. In 1906, Frieseke spent the summer in Giverny and the influence of French Impressionism is apparent in this work. The sale totaled $3 million and was 90 percent sold, according to Sandra Germain, the firm’s managing partner, who added, “It was a great success!”
Scott Kahn’s (American, b 1946) “Circular Driveway,” 1983, also was an overachiever, the oil on canvas depicting a dense, tree-lined driveway with the sunlight creating shadows on the ground realizing $175,000, well above its $50/75,000 estimate. Signed and dated lower right “Scott Kahn ‘83,” the 30-by-30-inch painting was further signed, titled and dated on the reverse, inscribed on the reverse “© 1983 by Scott Kahn/all rights reserved.” It was one of a group of eight paintings by Kahn offered in the sale, each painting from a different period in the artist’s career.
Another Kahn work of note was “Full Moon Over The Channel,” 2006, an oil on canvas exhibiting the same leading line technique as “Circular Driveway,” in this case moonlight over the water drawing the viewer’s eye. Signed and dated lower right “S. Kahn ‘06,” titled, signed and dated on the reverse, the 20-by-17-inch work sold for $93,750, triple its high estimate. A final price was price of $68,750 was attained for Kahn’s “Sage Street, Sag Harbor,” 1979, oil on canvas, 26 by 31 inches. In this case, the leading line is the village street.
Hudson River School fans were rewarded with a Thomas Cole (American, 1801-1848) oil on panel, but the painting was of Mount Chocorua in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, circa 1827. Unsigned, the 9¾-by-14¾-inch work sold for $15,000, tightly within estimate. Provenance accompanying the painting included Florence Cole Vincent of New York having acquired it by descent directly from the artist, thence in 1969 to a private New York collection and two other private collections before being consigned to this sale. It was accompanied by a research report completed by leading Thomas Cole scholar Dr Alan Wallach.
From a private Connecticut collection, “When Youth is Beautiful” by Norman Rockwell had all of the artist’s homey charm and storytelling ability. The portrait of a stylishly dressed couple stepping out was originally an illustration to accompany a Booth Tarkington story of the same title published in the November 1933 issue of the Women’s Home Companion. Held in a private collection for more than 40 years, it sold for $125,000.
Esteban Vicente (1903-2001) was a Spanish American painter who was one of the first generation of New York School Abstract Expressionists. His untitled oil on canvas from 1958 brought $93,750, surpassing its $70,000 high estimate. Signed and dated on the reverse “Esteban Vicente / 1958,” it measured 30 by 38 inches.
Five works by New Haven artist Winfred Rembert (American, 1945-2021) were introduced in the sale, the top achiever being “Family in the Cotton Field” a colorful and dynamic dye on carved and tooled leather. The unsigned work was 12¼ by 8½ inches and sold below its low estimate for $50,000. The catalog noted that all of the Remberts offered were purchased by a New Haven high school principal, Dr Lonnie Garris Jr, who was a friend and early supporter of the artist.
“Near Deer Isle Village” by Wolf Kahn (German/American, 1927-2020) more than tripled its high estimate, bid to $38,100. The oil on canvas was signed lower right “Kahn” and measured 24 by 48 inches. Born in Stuttgart, Germany, Kahn immigrated from England to the United States in 1940. Five years later, he graduated from the High School of Music & Art in New York, and joined the US Navy. The GI Bill allowed him to study with renowned teacher and Abstract Expressionist painter Hans Hofmann, and he became Hofmann’s studio assistant. In 1950, he enrolled in the University of Chicago and graduated in 1951 with a bachelor of arts degree. His artist website describes his style as a “unique blend of Realism and…Color Field painting.”
Leading female artists represented in the sale included Alice Baber (American, 1928-1982), Alicia Perez Penalba (Argentine, 1913-1982), Peter (Henrietta) Miller (American, 1913-1996) and Priscilla Warren Roberts (American, 1916-2001) whose “Memory Quilt” set a new world auction record.
A colorful abstract painting by Alice Baber titled “The Blue Bow of the Jaguar” from 1981 was offered, the oil on canvas going out at $68,750 against a $15/25,000 estimate. The 30¼-by-50¼-inch painting was signed and dated “Baber 81” and signed, dated and titled on the reverse.
Penalba’s abstract bronze sculpture, “Rumeur D’Ailes,” 1974, was signed and numbered near base “A Penalba 2/8,” foundry Valsuani, Italy, and stood 28 inches high with base. It sold for $60,000.
Peter Miller, born Henrietta Myers, was an American Modernist who took an interest in art at a very early age and applied for study at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia. On her application form, she wrote, “I would rather fail at painting than succeed at anything else.” Miller remained a dedicated painter throughout her life. In this sale, her “Singers,” a 24-by-20-inch oil on canvas abstract, titled and signed on the reverse “Peter Miller,” estate stamped and numbered on the reverse, sold for $37,500.
Roberts’s record-setting “Memory Quilt,” an oil on composite board interior scene was estimated $3/5,000 but did much better, finishing at $32,500. It was signed lower right “P Roberts” and titled and signed on the reverse, measuring 29¼ by 22½ inches.
There were also European artists of note. Maurice Sievan’s (1898-1981)”Boozabek,” 1960, an oil on paper mounted on board made $18,750, while a swirling confection of fish by Pierre-Auguste Renoir (French, 1841-1919) titled “Les Rougets,” (Red Mullet) circa 1914, oil on canvas, left the gallery at $50,000. The unsigned work was 8¾ by 12¾ inches.
Prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. For information, www.shannons.com or 203-877-1711.
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