Published: July 13, 2021
Review by W.A. Demers, Catalog Photos Courtesy Blackwood-March
ESSEX, MASS. – Summertime on the Cape conjures images of Ralph Cahoon’s (1910-1982) whimsical scenes of sailors and mermaids frolicking on the backs of whales, in hot air balloons, on majestic ships and countless other fantastic settings. So it was fitting that the top lot in Blackwood/March’s June 30 sale would be a Ralph Cahoon oil on board view of a sailor and mermaid on a velocipede, which sold for $20,060. It measured 12 by 16 inches and was signed lower right. Cahoon’s success as an artist derived not only from his unique and lively style, but also from his business acumen, as he would often incorporate his patrons’ businesses, homes or professions into his paintings along with mermaids and sailors.
There were more nautical scenes. A Frank Beatty acrylic on board, “Pigeon Cove Harbor,” 12 by 16 inches, depicting a mix of sailboats and commercial vessels in a small, but well-protected harbor on the north side of Sandy Bay, about two miles northwest of Rockport Harbor, realized $1,254. And an Eastern Point Gloucester estate contributed a pair of Samuel F. Badger oil on canvas marine scenes with schooner, one of which, 10 by 13 inches, signed lower left, “S.M.F. Badger,” earned $1,505. “First Light on Rockport Harbor,” an oil on board by Ken Knowles, 6 by 8 inches, signed lower right and nicely framed, went out at $877. No parade of Cape maritime scenery would be complete without Gloucester Harbor, deftly depicted in a Harry Ballinger oil on board, “Gloucester Wharf,” 9 by 12 inches. Signed lower right, “H. Ballinger” and framed, it took $561.
The sale was 90 percent sold, attracting 1,400 registered bidders on Invaluable, as well as a number of left bids and phone bids, according to owner Michael March. “I was most surprised by the Japanese woodblock print by Hasui Kawase,” he said. “As a rule, I refuse to take an artwork out of its frame out of consideration to the consignor. But in his case the seal was there, indicating it was an early work.” Selling for more than ten times its high estimate to a knowledgeable trade buyer, Kawase’s (1883-1957) “Snow of Shinkyo,” 9½ by 14 inches, finished at $2,508. Kawase was one of modern Japan’s most important and prolific printmakers. He was a prominent designer of the shin-hanga (“new prints”) movement, whose artists depicted traditional subjects with a style influenced by Western art. Like many earlier ukiyo-e prints, Kawase’s works were commonly landscapes, such as this one, displaying atmospheric effects and natural lighting. In a career that spanned nearly 40 years, Hasui designed approximately 620 prints, and towards the end of his life, the government recognized him as a Living National Treasure for his contribution to Japanese culture.
Also outperforming was a Glenn Cooper Henshaw pastel of the Flatiron building in New York City. It was supposed to top out at $500 but went on to capture $2,124. Measuring 14 by 9 inches, it was signed lower right “Henshaw N.Y.,” and framed. “It came out of a Rockport estate, having been in the family’s collection for many years,” said March. Henshaw was also represented in the sale by a pastel and drawing portrait of Karen Benzon, who, as it turns out was the consignor’s mother. Measuring 23½ by 18½ inches and signed lower right, “Henshaw,” it garnered $628.
Bidders liked a portrait of a young, good looking devil attributed to Charles Allen Winter, 10 by 8 inches, framed, taking it to $1,003. Winter (1869-1942) was active in Massachusetts and New York, primarily known for landscapes, seascapes and portrait painting and illustration. Born in Cincinnati, he received early training at the Cincinnati Art Academy with Thomas Noble.
Fetching $2,360 was an S. Kirk & Sons sterling silver tray, 26 inches long and 17 inches wide. Monogrammed, it weighed 90 troy ounces. Silver also weighed in as a 78-piece sterling silver flatware set, weighable silver of 69 troy ounces, was bid to $1,652. An ornate S. Kirk & Son Sterling silver teapot on stand, 11½ inches high, took $1,416.
Presentation sterling always stirs up interest. A presentation Stieff sterling silver three-piece tea set, with teapot 9¾ inches tall, 39 troy ounces and incised on bottom, “Presented to James Madison Rawlings P.H.D. by Baltimore Royal Arch Chapter No 41. …1911,” a Masonic group, rose to $1,062.
Prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. The firm’s next sale, slated for late August, will draw primarily from a one-owner estate of a Cape Ann woman with a wealth of material from that area. For more information, www.blackwoodauction.com or 978-768-6943.
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