Published: June 29, 2021
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Catalog Photos Courtesy Bruneau & Co. Auctioneers
CRANSTON, R.I. – By Kevin Bruneau’s standards, the June 17 Estate Fine Art and Antique Auction was a small sale at just 334 lots, but it performed well, making about $125,000 all in, with bidding on several platforms.
“It was a good sale. In every sale we have some really nice things, then some filler lots. The things that we expected to do well, did. We’re seeing fine art performing very well, particularly for paintings that are very good that people are looking to invest in. On the other hand, paintings that are fun can be purchased very reasonably.”
Among the works that Bruneau included as one of the “very good” paintings was the top lot of the sale, a winter scene by Swedish American impressionist John Fabian Carlson that realized $8,125. It came from a Fall River storage unit that Bruneau was called in to go through. “It was a cool find,” Bruneau said. “To be selling a winter painting like that in the middle of summer. It blew me away.” The buyer was a collector from Ohio bidding online, underbid by a phone bidder.
Another painting that resonated with buyers was a New England landscape by John Appleton Brown (American, 1844-1902) that finished at $3,900, nearly eight times its high estimate. Appleton studied in France, where he was influenced by Emile Lambinet as well as Barbizon painters Jean Baptiste Camille Corot (1796-1875) and Charles-François Daubigny (1817-1878). After returning to the United States, Brown’s friendships with both J. Foxcroft Cole (1837-1892) and William Morris Hunt (1824-1879) also had an impact on his works. Bruneau thought that the reflection of the trees in the water was particularly well done and helped drive interest in the work.
A phone bidder beat out online competition to take an unusual hand carved Inuit walrus ivory chess set to $6,600, the second highest result achieved in the sale. The set was accompanied by a note that read “Chessmen They were made to order in Alaska of walrus… by an Indian for a consul there, from his ideas. The pawns are local animals. The carver had no idea of a horse – so the knights were made from description and only two of them. The walrus heads are the bishops – and two bears are knights. Bought in San Francisco November 1903.” Bruneau acknowledged the difficulty in selling restricted materials, saying it might have brought a higher price if it had been offered a decade or more ago; undoubtedly, it helped that the Barrington, R.I., estate that it came from had saved the documentation.
A couple of the top prices in the sale went for large things. Very large things. Among these was an Art Nouveau bronze fountain that stood 92 inches tall and was described in the catalog as “monumental.” Bruneau said that he had found it at an East Greenwich, R.I., property that was being listed for sale; if he wanted to sell it, he needed to remove it before the home was shown to prospective buyers and was given a short window of time. “We took that out of the pond ourselves and loaded it onto my pickup truck.” A buyer “down south” paid $3,900 for it, nearly twice its low estimate. Another lot of exceptional size was an early Twentieth Century Indian Laristan rug that measured 11 feet 8 inches by 17 feet 1 inch that made six times its high estimate and sold for $3,000. “The big thing, from what I’m hearing from rug buyers, is that the more worn a rug is, the better,” Bruneau said.
Conversely, small things also did well. A Lincoln, R.I., estate had four lots of gold coins that were offered consecutively and were purchased by two different buyers, for prices ranging from $960 for a group of three coins, to $3,600 for a group of nine coins.
All prices quoted include buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house but may not include additional online bidding surcharges.
Bruneau & Co. will sell comic books, trading cards and toys on July 10.
For additional information, www.bruneauandco.com or 401-533-9980.
September 14, 2021
September 14, 2021
September 14, 2021
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