Published: July 18, 2023
Review & Onsite Photos By Rick Russack; Photos Courtesy Thomaston Place Auction Galleries
THOMASTON, MAINE — A new auction record for a work by Maine artist Emily Lansingh Muir was set when a phone bidder paid $24,000 for one of her paintings; it was one of several highlights in Kaja Veilleux’s Thomaston Place Auction Galleries’ July 7-9 “Splendor” auction that saw strong prices for automobiles, other fine art, Asian artifacts and jewelry.
The star of the sale, earning $120,000, was “Le Chariot d’Arras”, a mid-Nineteenth Century work by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, (French, 1796-1875). It depicted a family riding in a horse-drawn haycart approaching the town of Arras; a silhouette of a church belfry and windmill is on the horizon. It came from a Falmouth, Maine, home and was well documented, having been authenticated by Martin Dieterle of Paris and is published in Alfred Rabout’s catalog raisonné, L’oeuvre de Corot.
The runner-up, selling for $68,750, was a Twentieth Century oil by Lebanese/American artist Etel Adnan (1925-2021), an impasto knifework oil on canvas, its bright colors depicting mountain ranges under a hot sun, probably in California. In addition to painting, Adnan also worked in other media and her paintings and tapestries were included in the 2014 Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art included her work, and her poetry and essays have been published.
“Ames Brothers” sold on the third day and set a new auction record for works by Maine artist Emily Lansingh Muir (1904-2003). The oil on canvas of the brothers, who may have been seamen and who have appeared in other Muir paintings, depicts them seated, looking directly at the artist. Muir’s works are in the permanent collections of the Farnsworth Art Museum, the Portland Museum of Art and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Additionally, she was also a sculptor and a prolific architect, designing more than 45 homes near Stonington, Maine, where she lived with her husband, sculptor William H. Muir. “Ames Brothers” sold for $24,000 to a very determined phone bidder.
Other paintings that attracted interest included a summer landscape by French artist Alfred Sisley (1839-1899) which brought $53,125. Earning $51,000 was a mixed media work depicting a man in a top hat dancing with a dog signed “Bill Traylor,” which had been estimated $30/40,000. A collection of more than 20 paintings of the White Mountains included works by Edward Hill, Samuel Lancaster Gerry and Benjamin Champney, to name a few. “Cows in Autumn Valley Pasture, Mount Monadnock, New Hampshire,” an oil on canvas by William Preston Phelps (1848-1923) brought the highest price of the group, finishing at $18,750. Edward Hill (1843-1923) created many views of the Old Man of The Mountain, in many sizes. The example in this sale, 11½ by 7½ inches, earned $5,938.
Veilleux likes old cars, drives one, and includes them in many of his sales; this sale was no exception. A 2006 Jaguar Super V8, with a 400 horse-power engine, sold for $16,800. With just 26,000 miles, “luxurious” would be the word to describe its interior, which had cream colored leather upholstery with wood accents, four climate zones, one for each passenger, rear radio controls, headrest TV screens, integrated phone and power rear seats. The single-owner 2007 Mazda MX-5 Miata Roadster, with 66,000 miles, sold for $11,250.
The offerings of Asian works of art achieved several surprises. One such was a nearly 11-inch-long Chinese huanghuali box, estimated to bring $1,500 but which brought $33,000. It was inlaid with mother-of-pearl, jade, pink quartz, agate, lapis, carnelian, malachite, coral and silver wire, and depicted a scholar and students surrounded by bats and auspicious symbols. Prior to the sale, Veilleux said, “this box will do well. We’ve been getting phone calls on this from literally all over the world.” A pair of small side tables, also of huanghuali, earned $13,750.
Another Chinese piece that did well was a blue and white “bleu de hue” bowl made in the late Nineteenth or early Twentieth Century. Made for the Vietnamese market, the bowl was decorated with a mountainous landscape with calligraphic verse, had a metal rim, an underglaze blue “Nhat” (sun) mark and an incised two-character mark on its base. Though it was just three inches tall, it exceeded the estimate, selling for $10,000. A butterscotch jade carving featured a mountain landscape with details that included travelers sheltering under trees and several pagodas brought $4,063. The same price was realized by a 15-inch-tall pair of Chinese ivory covered vases with foo dog covers; each was deeply carved with interior and exterior domestic scenes.
American furniture was plentiful and affordable. An Eighteenth Century serpentine card table, with a shaped top and blocked corners on five cabriole legs, realized $3,125; the catalog noted it had two replaced knee blocks. Selling for $2,250 was a circa 1830 card table with a swivel top on a center pedestal which had heavily carved acanthus leaf scrolls above a rectangular base with paw feet. One of the few lots of American furniture to exceed estimates was a pair of Sheraton armchairs with pierced diamond crests, five carved spindles, and turned, tapered legs which sold for $2,375. A tall Hepplewhite five-drawer maple country chest brought only $594, while a five-drawer Chippendale maple tall chest on a bracket base went out for $1,000.
Thomaston Place sales often include works by members of the Wyeth family; this sale included 18 examples. Leading the selection and finishing at $34,375 was an original watercolor that Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009) had done on the front free endpaper of his book, Christina’s World (1982). He inscribed the watercolor to the book’s designer “Painted for Larry Webster with warmest thanks for the great design he did on this book, Andrew Wyeth.” The scene depicts the Olson House in Cushing, Maine. Bringing the second highest price of the selection was a graphite on paper study of pirates for one page of N.C.
Wyeth’s (1882-1945) 1941 calendar, “The Romance of Commerce.” With a circled W monogram, it went out for $22,800. Andrew Wyeth’s signed 1971 collotype, “Northern Point,” distributed by the New York Graphic Society, realized $6,600.
After the sale Veilleux said “this one was a lot of work. Each day we sold for between seven and eight hours. I’m pleased with the gross of $2 million and there was strength in every department. We used three internet platforms, and they had hundreds of people watching as we live-streamed all three days. There were bargains, as there always are. We’re already at work on our three-day sale next month. Before you ask, there’s some great stuff in that sale and most of it comes from local estates and has never been sold publicly before.”
Prices include the buyers’ premium as reported by the auction house. For additional information, 800-924-1032 or visit www.thomastonauction.com.
September 19, 2023
September 19, 2023
September 19, 2023
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