“I like to call this art for the common man,” stated auctioneer Gene Shannon prior to Shannon’s October 26 auction of Fine American and European Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture. In light of the $100 million Klimt paintings and the other multimillion dollar works selling on a regular basis just down the road in Manhattan, Shannon’s under-a-quarter-million-dollars selection of quality art was particularly appealing.
“The primary market for good Twentieth Century art is poised to do very well,” stated the auctioneer as he glanced around the gallery during the final moments of preview. Hours later his statement would be confirmed as yet another solid sale had been logged into the books with a gross total of $4.3 million achieved.
The auction gallery had bidders from 38 states participating in the auction as well as telephone, Internet and absentee action coming from ten different countries around the world, confided Shannon principal Sandra Germain. Record prices paid at auction were established for 21 different artists during the course of the evening ranging from a Joseph D. Strong, Jr, painting that eclipsed his previous record nearly ten-fold, to a Clara McChesney painting at $5,078.
“We have had a lot more in this sale than we normally have,” commented Shannon, in regard to the voluminous offering. “It was like we had opened the spigot and couldn’t turn it off. Quality paintings just kept coming in and we couldn’t say no to them,” stated the auctioneer. Overall the auction had roughly 75 more paintings in it than a normal Shannon auction. “The overall quality for this sale is the best we have ever had, even the end of the auction was exciting and interesting,” he said.
As the auction house prepared to get the sale under way, it was noted that a record number of absentee and telephone bids were registered. Bidding was brisk throughout the night, although the large crowd in attendance managed to claim a great deal of the lots offered.
“Because the sale was so large we had more buy-ins than usual,” stated Shannon, “but, the flip side of that is we had a lot more to offer post sale.” The auction house reported more than $150,000 worth of paintings sold in the days following the sale.
Leading the auction was a small Martha Walters oil on board, 14 by 18 inches, titled “Bathers on the Beach, Bass Rocks” that listed a provenance of the estate of the artist and a private collection in Greenwich, Conn. Estimated at $80/120,000, bidding on the lot was active with it selling at $153,100.
Another of the top lots came as a William Bradford painting titled “Arctic Explorers” was offered. The painting depicted men on the ice around a small dory with two clipper ships in the background and in front of a large iceberg. The dramatic scene was another of the lots to carry the provenance of a private collection, this one from Maryland, and it sold for a respectable $119,500.
One of several paintings that came as a surprise to many was an Italian interior genre scene by Guiseppe Magni and titled “Amusing the Baby.” The well executed oil on canvas depicted three women and a young girl all entertaining the child as it gazes towards a hen and brood of chicks pecking corn from the floor. A gentleman lighting a pipe was seated in the doorway of the 28-by-40-inch painting. Estimated at $40/60,000, the unusual painting sold for $107,550.
One of the lots that attracted the most attention was a Joseph Dwight Strong, Jr, Hawaiian painting that had been discovered in an attic. “We got a call from this old-time New England dealer that had saved virtually all of the paintings that he had come across during his career. He was sort of a pack-rat and had more than 300 of them in his attic. After spending an entire day looking them all over, we left with eight, including this Strong,” said the auctioneer. Initially estimated at $5/7,000 by the auction gallery after basing his worth on the previous auction record from 2003 of just under $10,000, Shannon’s got a wake-up call as the interest began mounting.
The painting depicted a Hawaiian fisherman near Diamond Head preparing to launch his out-rigger canoe. An oil on canvas, measuring 10 by 22 inches, the painting was signed lower right and dated ’95. Bidding on the lot was frenzied with a host of telephones hammering away at the lot with it eventually selling at $95,600.
A Modernist painting by Manierre Dawson (American, 1887–1969) titled “Desdemona” sold between estimates at $95,600, while an interior portrait of a young woman by William Worcester Churchill titled “The Chinese Vase” brought $89,625.
A stylish Birger Sandzen Western Impressionistic scene titled “Timberline Lake, Colorado,” attracted a lot of attention. The painting listed a provenance of a private collection in Ohio where it had been under glass since it had been executed by the artist. “The painting is as bright and clean as the day he finished it,” stated Shannon. “There is not a speck of dirt on it.”
The colorful scene depicted a small rocky outcrop into the lake that had wind-blown and stylized Cedar-type trees growing from it. With a mountainous backdrop and clouded blue sky, the painting possessed a Van Goghish air. Estimated at $40/60,000, bidding on the lot was active with it selling at $83,650.
“We had an excellent selection of New York City street scenes,” stated Shannon, pointing to works by Guy Carleton Wiggins, Johann Berthelsen and contemporary artist Laurence Campbell. The top lot from the selection was a Wiggins snow scene depicting horse-drawn carriages awaiting a fare in front of Central Park. Titled “Plaza and The Park,” the painting sold between estimates at $71,700. Another of the Wiggins to do well was a snow scene of “Wall Street” with a flags, Packard style cabs and pedestrians slogging through the storm. The painting attracted a good deal of interest with it topping estimates at $57,360.
Paintings by Berthelsen included a night scene of the United Nations building as seen from across the East River. The painting depicted tugs and also included the Chrysler and Empire State buildings. Estimated at $15/25,000, it sold for $23,900. A more typical snow scene of Washington Square with pedestrians braving the storm also did well with it selling at $17,925.
Laurence Campbell, the only living artist whose work Shannon’s had yet to sell, fared well once again with “5th Avenue at 29th St. — Blue Version” selling at $16,730, while a street scene titled “The Hotel St Pierre” went out at the high estimates at $11,950.
A nice Daniel Ridgeway Knight scene titled “A Country Wedding” and depicting a group of female laborers in the foreground watching a wedding taking place in the distance elicited strong bids with the 20-by-26-inch oil selling for $65,725.
A record price paid at auction was established for a Dale William Nichols painting, “Putting Up Ice,” a scene depicting a group of men cutting and loading ice from a farmstead pond onto a horse-drawn sled. Estimated at $20/30,000, the painting attracted a great deal of interest with it selling at $65,725.
A “small and intense” still life painting by Severin Roesen was another of the lots to attract strong attention from the crowd. With an impressive provenance of Coe Kerr Gallery, Hammer Galleries, and an estate in Florida, the painting carried a presale estimate of $25/35,000; the well executed 11-by-15-inch oil on panel, “Fruit Arrangement,” sold for $65,725.
Prices include the buyer’s premium charged. For further information contact Shannon’s at 354 Woodmont Rd, Milford CT 06460, 203-877-1711 or email@example.com or view www.shannons.com.