Freemans Part II Fine American & European Paintings & Sculpture Results

Market trends notwithstanding, the trade still does play an important role in the auction world. With that fact in mind, and once again proving that marketing on each side of the Atlantic can pay off in droves, it is interesting to note the sale’s most expensive painting, a fabulous Roy Nuse painting entitled “The Children of James W. Hunsberger,” lot 116, was acquired by a prominent London gallery. They were made aware of the picture from an advertisement in the most recent Lyon & Turnbull catalogue, the prominent Edinburgh outfit and sister auctioneer to Freeman’s in the UK. An impressive and aesthetically appealing work with impeccable provenance, exhibition history with PAFA, the Nuse depicts four attractive children at play on the beach – a perfectly themed subject for a sale held on the first official day of summer – and following spirited bidding both in the U.S. and abroad, it realized a cool $115,000.

While both Nuse and Coppedge have well earned reputations in the sales rooms as ‘blue chip’ painters, these hammer prices were nonetheless achieved in a market environment currently characterized by arguably tempered expectations on the parts of buyer, seller and auctioneer. “The auction results were very good overall and not only show that there is strength in many sectors of the painting market, but also appear to point to a rebound in prices for works by the top artists,” remarked Alasdair Nichol, Vice-Chairman and Head of the Painting department.

Other Pennsylvania impressionist stalwart painters also fared well in this sale, with all five Walter E. Schofield painters offered selling, all four Walter E. Baum paintings offered selling, and paintings by William L. Lathrop, George W. Sotter, Henry B. Snell, John F. Folinsbee, Kenneth Nunamaker, Martha Walter and Henry B. McCarter all finding buyers.

While these results were welcome news to collectors and Pennsylvania art cognoscenti eagerly awaiting a return to the market’s salad days, this auction also proved that there is strength in the European painting and drawing market. A Cornelis Visscher II drawing of a lady lot 7, privately consigned and with excellent provenance brought $16,250, around seven times above estimate. That same price was realized for lot 10, “A Village Kermesse” by Cornelis Droochsloot, far exceeding its auction estimate. Rounding out the European Old Master portion of the sale, an intriguing unsigned “Pastoral Scene with Herdsmen and Livestock,” lot 12, painted on cradled panel and attributed to a Follower of Thomas Gainsborough also exceeded estimate, realizing $10,625.

Decorative 19th century European oils from the Collection of the Ritz Carlton Hotel, McLean, Virginia also found buyers, including paintings by Eugene Henri Cauchois, Antoine Perret, John Clayton Adams, and hammering down at $26,200, lot 37, a fine example of early-mid 19th century British equestrian art, William Barraud’s “A Bay, A Chestnut and a Grey by a Thatched Cottage.” That interest in good Orientalist-themed pictures appears to continue unabated was connfirmed by the results of two paintings by the relatively minor but nonetheless sought after Narcisse Berchere, lots 27, 28, which sold for $20,000 and $11,250 respectively, and by the $9,375 realized for lot 64, a small work by the American painter Frederick Arthur Bridgman, whose North African themed works were his stock in trade.

Finally, a small but good group of privately consigned modern paintings acquired from both the Wally and David Findlay Galleries fared well, with $20,000 realized for Mane-Katz’s “La Charette de Fleurs,” lot 42, and three oils by the Vietnamese/French painter LePho, lots 46, 47 and 48 bringing $20,000, $13,750 and $28,600, respectively.

Arguably, the American painting market did not, over the last decade, experience the same mercurial rise – and subsequent fall – experienced by some other picture markets, and sale results from the American paintings portion of the auction (excluding the aforementioned Pennsylvania impressionists) point to that market’s continued strength. Lot 65, “Rosy Clouds” by William T. Richards sold for $13,750, works by John F. Murphy, lots 70 and 71, each brought over estimate, realizing $5,000 and $8,750, respectively, and the continuing popularity of Charles W. Eaton’s paintings was revealed in the prices realized for lots 67 and 68: $25,000 and $12,500, respectively. Other highlights amongst the American paintings offered included: lot 84, a finely executed
4 3/8 x 2 9/16 inch Guy Wiggins New York in Winter ‘cabinet’ painting – apparently the smallest work by Wiggins to appear on the market in recent times – that brought $12,500, lot 85, a classic Ogden M. Pleissner oil of “The Upper Margaree-Cape Breton (Salmon Fishing)” that sold for $20,000, a good Dale Nichols landscape painting, lot 91, that sold for $16,250 and works by two prominent African American artists, Philadelphia’s own Humbert Howard, lot 105, bringing $7,500 and a rare Hughie Lee Smith “Dock Scene,” lot 104, realizing $26,200.

Finally, Gil Elvgren’s “Pot Luck,” lot 103, a typically racy work by the famed illustrator brought the top end of its range at $40,000, while Thomas H. Benton’s “Study for ‘American Historical Epic,” lot 96, sold for a very respectable $73,000.

Freeman’s next sale of ‘Fine American & European Paintings and Sculpture’ will be held on December 5th, with suitable consignments being accepted now through late October.

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