Published: May 17, 2016
Review by W.A. Demers;
Photos Courtesy Shannon’s
MILFORD, CONN. — Shannon’s Fine Art Auctioneers on April 28 presented the spring edition of its twice-annual sale of American and European paintings, drawings, prints and sculptures, posting a $2 million gross and 77 percent by lot sell-through rate, which was “great,” according to co-principal Sandra Germain. Gene Shannon added that there were 400 phone bidders for this sale and 11 percent of the lots went through the Invaluable online platform.
The top lot of the auction, as expected, was a Luminist work by Louis Remy Mignot (American, 1831–1870), best known for his tropical-seasonal landscape paintings and who made a pair of journeys to South America with the renowned American artist Frederic Edwin Church. The museum-quality Mignot, 24 by 39 inches, sold for a within-estimate $120,000, its subject a tropical landscape that transports the viewer to a realm of imagination and reverie. The painting, signed and dated ’64 lower right, came out of a private Swiss collection.
Mignot is today remembered as one of America’s leading Luminist painters. He started his career in New York City where he became associated with the artists of the Hudson River School, including Church. His images, like Church’s, derive from direct confrontation with the landscape; but through selection of place, moment of day and painterly stroke, he imparts the quality of dreamlike romance to places perceived in reality.
In “Tropical Landscape with Camels and Bedouins,” Mignot imaginatively inserted camels and Bedouins into a distinctively Ecuadorian landscape view along the Guayaquil River. Art historian and Mignot expert John Coffey reviewed the present landscape noting, “Perhaps the painting is Mignot’s attempt to broaden his repertoire of subjects to appeal to a British public more engaged with the Middle East than South America. He simply substitutes camels and Bedouins for llamas and Ecuadorian Indians.”
The 1860s saw an increase in Orientalist subjects from British and Continental artists. Mignot explored Orientalist themes in at least one other canvas, “Mosque and Minaret,” exhibited first in New York in 1868 and again in London in an 1876 posthumous exhibition.
Another early highlight of the sale was a sculpture by Cyrus Dallin (American, 1861–1944), after his famous monumental sculpture, “Appeal to the Great Spirit.” The evocative sculpture, depicting a Sioux Indian chief engaged in prayer after his defeat by the US Army, is model #73 of the 107 castings authorized by Dallin to be made by Gorham. Dated 1913 on the base, it trounced its high estimate to bring $84,000.
Shannon’s tapped into a favorite subject for American artists — New York City and its pulsing, colorful, sometimes more somber landscape with more than 40 lots ranging from the early Twentieth Century to the present. “Overall, we sold 80 percent of the New York scenes,” said Shannon. Perennial favorite Guy Carleton Wiggins (American, 1883–1962) was represented in the sale by one of his iconic scenes of a wintry city scene in “5th Avenue,” an oil on canvas, 24 by 20 inches, signed lower right, which brought $84,000.
Moving from Fifth Avenue to “Washington Square in Winter” was Paul Cornoyer’s (American, 1864–1923) somber-toned oil on canvas, 18 by 24 inches. From a private New Hampshire collection, the painting finished at $72,000, above its high estimate.
People as well as places inform the American and European art scene. A New York private collection was the source of a linocut work in colors by Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973). “Tete de Femme” measured 25 by 20 inches (plate), was signed lower right and numbered 32/50 lower left. It achieved $72,000.
“We had a good result with our Charles Webster Hawthorne paintings,” stated Germain, referring to a collection of seven works by the artist that traced provenance to the Provincetown artist’s estate, thence to his son Joseph Hawthorne, and then to a Provincetown family. Hawthorne founded the Provincetown Cape Cod School of Art in 1899, where he taught summer classes from his home and studio. Notable students of his include George Elmer Browne, Childe Hassam, Ernest Lawson and Frederic Judd Waugh, among many others. In this sale’s top ten, Hawthorne’s double-sided work “Women and Figures Under White Umbrella / Man Carrying Two Cheeses” had carried a conservative $1/2 ,000 estimate, but soared to $66,0000.
“It [the painting] was rolled up under the bed,” said Gene Shannon. “As a major but unfinished work, I suggested to the family that we estimate it conservatively and they were willing to do that.” Obviously, they were very pleased, he added.
French Vietnamese artist Le Pho (1907–2001) created a scene of domestic tranquility with three female figures in a floral garden luncheon setting. Titled “Le Gouter,” the 45½ by-35-inch oil on canvas signed lower left finished at $50,625 and is heading to Hanoi.
Additional highlights in the sale included Julio Larraz’s (Cuban, b 1944), “Flotilla,” 1976, pastel on canvas, signed and dated ‘76 upper right, $33,600; Paul Lacroix’s (American, 1827–1869) “Still Life with Pineapple, Grapes and Orange,” circa 1860, $33,000; and Isaac (Itshak) Holtz’s (Polish American, b 1927) “Going to Synagogue,” $31,200.
Prices reported include the buyer’s premium.
Shannon’s next sale is a June 16 online-only fine art Discovery auction at 2 pm.
For additional information, www.shannons.com or 203-877-1711.
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