Published: July 6, 2021
Review by W.A. Demers
BRANFORD, CONN. – A portrait of American artist William Trost Richards (1870-1952) painted by his daughter, Anna Richards Brewster, sold for $175,000, nearly 70 times its estimated high value and doubling the previous record price for the artist, on the first day of Fred Giampietro’s New Haven Auction’s back-to-back sales June 26-27. Dated 1904 and signed lower left, the 9-3/16-by-11-15/16-inch canvas depicting Richards at work painting a Lake Placid, N.Y., landscape was from the collection of Jo Ann and Julian Ganz Jr of Los Angeles. Giampietro said that painting went a collector in Canada.
The sale’s first day offered fine art, Oriental carpets, period European and American furnishings, Americana, Asian antiques and more, while the second day, led by an abstract watercolor on paper, presumably Russian judging by a stamp on the back, focused on pop culture, folk, funk, cowboy culture and fun. The abstract art was lifted by 42 bids from a $100/200 estimate to $5,000. Overall, the two days of sales grossed a little more than $1 million with about 7,100 registered bidders. Of the 850 lots offered, just 12 were passed and three of those found buyers postsale, resulting in a sell-through rate that was close to 98 percent.
The Brewster painting was clearly the top lot of the June 26 sale and of the two days overall. She was born in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia. In addition to her landscape painter father, her mother was poet and playwright Anna Matlack. A brother, Theodore William Richards, won the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1914.
Studies were at Cowles Art School in Boston, as well as with William Merritt Chase and John LaFarge at the Art Students League of New York in 1890. Periodic trips to Europe with her father between 1890 and 1895 and a nine-year stint as a resident in London further informed her oeuvre.
A founding member of the Scarsdale Art Association, she died at her home there in 1952.
Another woman artist was represented in the sale by Grace Hudson’s (1865-1937) portrait of a Native American child with dog. The oil on canvas was signed lower left and dated “’83 Ukia, Calif.” More than doubling its high estimate, it was bid to $18,750. The Grace Hudson Museum in Ukia highlights regional art, culture and natural history in the tradition of Hudson (1865-1937), her ethnologist husband, Dr John W. Hudson (1857-1936) and her pioneer ancestors.
Asian material, jewelry and Oriental rugs also performed notably on the first day. What was described as a “good pair” of Chinese porcelain vases surely redefined the meaning of “good” when the lot shot from its $250/500 estimate to finish at $100,000, going to a buyer in Beijing. Signed on base, standing 7 inches high, the two white vases were in fine original condition.
Fetching $50,000 against a $3/6,000 expectation was a Cartier Art Deco diamond, rubies and jade brooch. Stamped Cartier, gemologist inspected and appraised, the brooch’s platinum mounting was forged and hand assembled and the piece featured three carved green jadeite Buddhas, the largest in the center. They were in a geometric frame set with 86 diamonds melee and accented by three round bezel ruby cabochons and five bezel square step cut rubies.
A semi-baroque cultured Akoya pearl diamond necklace also outperformed, bringing $20,000 ($2/4,000).
Also finishing at $20,000 was an early Italian marble stone head. Minus the base, the head was 7 inches high. It had been expected to bring $400/800.
Two antique Oriental rugs earned $17,500 and $16,250, respectively. The first was a Serapi from the late Nineteenth Century whose dimensions without fringe were 193 by 144 inches. The second was a large, semi-antique Heriz with good colors, 18 feet 8 inches by 13 feet 6 inches.
On New Haven’s second day sale, four folk art carved and painted store displays handily beat their $250/500 estimate and earned $4,063. Wood with original paint, circa 1930, they sported period fashions and heights ranged from 25 to 26½ inches.
Also notable in folk art was a painted parcheesi gameboard. Estimated $400/800, the gameboard in original condition with checkers on the reverse sported original paint and gold leaf on panel wood. Measuring 18-3/8 by 18¼ inches, it was taken by 23 bids to $3,375.
Highlighting the second day were collections of Michael Friedman and Stephen Hofheimer. A Connecticut antiques dealer, Friedman’s areas of interest are varied and include Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century American country furniture and accessories, American folk art, cowboy and Western art, Native American, rustic and Adirondack material. In 1992 he wrote a book titled Cowboy Culture, The Last Frontier of American Antiques. Hofheimer, a Fairfield, Conn., retired teacher and collector who died in 2020, was a client of Friedman’s and amassed objects that caught his extraordinary eye for art and design, such as a Seeburgh jukebox, midcentury furniture, a 1950s desk, Art Deco chairs and sofa, a 1960s dinette set, 1950s upholstered bar and the like. Friedman collects all things cowboy, from Native American items to antler chandeliers, chaps, cowboy boots and lots of Western memorabilia and artwork. Downsizing his seemingly endless collection, Friedman will be consigning more items in New Haven Auction’s October sale.
Audiophiles with retro sensibilities were all over a Krell-Appogee-Rega Planar stereo system. Pushed to $3,500, the vintage outfit comprised a Music Hall 253 tube converter, Rega Planar turntable, Kiseki Blue, Krell CED player, Krell KSA 100MK, Krell pre-amp, Apogee Stage with stands and a Krell remote.
Eight times its high $400 estimate, a Jean Besnard (1889-1958) French studio pottery bowl, diameter 15-7/8 inches, pulled in $3,250 despite a small, repaired rim chip. Besnard employs a palette of grays, pinks, pale ochre, rust, greens and blues. He is also credited as the father of the so-called “crispé” white enamel, a process that gives granite the look of shagreen to ceramics. He never molded his pieces, therefore, all his works are unique. They are represented in the collections of the Luxembourg Museum, at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris and at the Museum of Fine Arts in Lyon.
Bidders liked an early painted face cloth doll and pushed her from $200/400 all the way to $3,125.
Notable furniture in the sale included a set of Brown Jordan 1960s outdoor table and chairs, circa 1965, in an old second coat of Chinese red. Cast aluminum with original glass top, the table was accompanied by four side and two arm chairs, and the lot went out at $3,125. Fetching $2,750, a Gustave Stickley bookcase with label was 56¼ by 53½ by 13 inches.
Prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. New Haven Auction’s next two day sale will take place the third weekend in October, and enthusiasts of American Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century decorative arts should watch for an auction date in January when items from the collection of Ohio dealer David Good will cross the block. For information, 475-234-5120 or www.newhavenauctions.com.
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