Published: March 9, 2021
Review by Greg Smith, Photos Courtesy Thomaston Place Auction Galleries
THOMASTON, MAINE – More than 1,200 lots crossed the block from February 26-28 at Thomaston Place Auction Galleries as part of the firm’s Temptations sale. With a by-appointment preview, the sale was sold entirely online with added absentee and phone bids. It sold just over $1.8 million.
“We try to have such diversity,” auctioneer Kaja Veilleux said. “All these things come from collections or homes and estates. When people say what kind of stuff do you sell? We handle everything before Christ to the Twenty-First Century.”
Much Americana was sold on the first day of sale, led by a $12,000 result for a Seventeenth Century American pine round top candlestand in original red paint with baluster pedestal and cross feet. On 37 bids, the small table with a 12¼-inch top went well over its $700 high estimate. It had come from the estate of Richard Suydam of Ellsworth, Maine.
“That was the earliest candlestand I’ve sold in 50 years,” Veilleux said. Suydam began his interest in antiques as a collector before he dealt for a little while in Ellsworth. He had a career in the US armed forces prior to that.
Also at $12,000 was a Nineteenth Century Shaker oval box with copper tacks and three-finger construction. It measured only 2 inches high and had originally been purchased from Avis Howell, the Belfast, Maine, dealer.
“The Shaker kicked ass,” Veilleux said. “It all came from one family. We had good estimates on it, but it did well.”
Other notable Shaker lots in the section had the same provenance. Included here was a Nineteenth Century three-tier sewing caddy with spool holders and a pin cushion that brought $5,400; a group of four natural brushes with horse hair bristles and turned handles at $4,800; two carved wooden scoops, including one in a vibrant red paint for $4,464; and a red painted oval pantry box with three fingers that took $4,200.
Two works by William Skilling (1862-1964), an early proponent of historical American art whose style reflected as much, were brought to sale from the estate of Barbara Chitwood. Both Skilling works featured dogs with a 37½-by-49½-inch oil on canvas featuring an adult and pup whippet taking the higher at $9,000. The adult holds a bone in its mouth and wears a collar with the initials VA. An oil on canvas measuring 29 by 35 inches featuring a hunting hound in a forest sold for $8,400.
The sale found its leader at $27,600 with a carved giltwood figure of a woman in a gown that measured 68 inches high. The firm attributed the work to Pennsylvania carver William Rush (1756-1833) and said it was a ship’s figurehead. The elegant woman was notable for the carving of her dress, which she holds up with one hand as if she’s wading into the water.
Other standouts on the second day include four porcelain Chinese blue and white vessels that went well over the $500 high estimate to take $14,400. The works were not pristine, each featuring chips, cracks or restoration, but the dragon brush pot, round cachepot, lidded jar and ewer with fish decoration found favor nonetheless. A small bowl, only 2¼ inches high, in a rich blackish-brown glaze and cataloged as a Song Dynasty Jizhou or Chi-Chou pottery tea bowl (circa 960-1276), went out at $11,400. Both had come from the Thomas Cox estate, an investor who assembled a noted collection of Chinese arts.
Pairs of tables were found desirable. A pair of English Hepplewhite demilune inlaid hall tables went out at $10,200. The pair featured exotic woods with ebony and inked decoration. At $7,200 was a pair of English Regency mahogany card tables from the early Nineteenth Century with provenance to Jorgensen’s Antiques. They opened to an attractive sunburst tooled edge leather surface that the auction house believed was a replacement.
Fine art was led by a $25,200 result for a landscape painting by Ivan Pavlovitch Pokhitonov (Russia, 1850-1923). The oil on panel measured a modest 6 by 10½ inches. The artist is known for his hunting and shooting scenes, which he accomplished en plein air as he traveled somewhat nomadically in a carriage that served as his studio.
At $24,000 was a view of Manhattan over the Hudson Piers by John Koch (American/France, 1909-1978), which went out at $24,000. The auction house said this was an early work from the artist’s Impressionist years in the late 1930s. It measured 52¾ by 59¾. Rising to $19,200 was a 1945 still life of fish titled “Peces” by Cuban artist René Portocarrero (1912-1985). The work had once belonged to Miguel Fleitas Rodriguez-Maribons (1926-2012), the founder of the Cuban Institute of Art and Industry Cinematografica (ICAIC), who received permission to remove this work from Cuba to the United States in the year 2000. Portocarrero, a self-taught artist, received his first international show in 1945 at Julien Levy’s gallery in New York City.
A Lincolnville, Maine, collection of instruments was led by a $16,800 result for a cello crafted by Gaetano Guadagnini II (1796-1852). The violin maker inherited his family’s workshop when he was 21 years old in 1817. He would soon start making guitars, for which he earned renown. Rising to $6,000 was a rare Amati pattern violin by the Hungarian Karolus Ertl (1812-1876). The auction house said works by Ertl are quite rare and few have ever come to auction. The collection had been assembled and added to by three generations of a family.
From a Wilton, Conn., estate came a Japanese gold Hiramaji-E letter box. “It had to be Imperial,” Veilleux said. “That was the finest piece of lacquer I have ever seen in 50 years. The quality was out of this world.” The box, measuring 17¼ inches across and 6¼ inches high, featured countryside scenes to its top and sides. It sold for $6,600. That estate proved particularly fruitful, including a $7,800 result for a Chinese Qing silk painting from the Eighteenth Century. The auction house said it was a Straits Settlements depiction of a child being presented to a noble on his open veranda. Found in the home’s garage was a Disney animation cel from Sleeping Beauty featuring Maleficent the Dragon fighting Prince Phillip. It was used in the movie and brought $6,600.
“Anything notable about this sale?” we asked Veilleux. “Other than it being a roller coaster like the last ten sales?” he replied. “You can’t count on anything, you don’t know what’s going to happen. Something that’s valuable doesn’t sell and things that aren’t do pretty well. It was a fun sale, we sold from 11 am to 9 at night.”
Thomaston Place will have premier sales in July and August, as well as smaller sales in between, Veilleux said.
All prices reported include buyer’s premium. For more information, www.thomastonauction.com or 207-354-8141.
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