Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information
Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

Bill Bunch Antiques Art Silver Jewelry Auction

William Bunch Auctions & Appraisals of Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, will conduct a two session sale of antiques, fine art, decorative arts, silver, jewelry, and other items on October 20 and 21.

The fine art section is anchored by a major, previously unknown religious theme work by Henry Ossawa Tanner, the African-American artist who, while Pennsylvania-born in 1859 and trained early in his art education at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, moved to Paris in 1891. He enrolled at the Academie Julian, studying with many other young American artists and became determined to enter the annual Salon Exhibitions held in Paris. The 1890’s was a formative decade in Tanner’s professional and personal life, resulting in several iconic works of Tanner’s including The Banjo Lesson, owned by Hampton University Museum, and The Thankful Poor, purchased by Bill Cosby at Sotheby’s in 1981 for $250,000, a record for Tanner, and indeed any African-American artist at that time. In 1899, he married Jessie Macauley Olsen, a San Francisco-based singer who was his model for another early major work, The Annunciation, created in 1898. They had a son, Jesse.

This auction market record stood for almost 20 years until October of 2000, when William Bunch Auctions offered a monumental 54-inch by 79-inch work by Tanner; depicting a powerful view of Christ and a circle of maidens at an altar table. The painting was discovered in a northern Pennsylvania barn some years before and languished for over 10 years in the back room of a Philadelphia area art gallery. Bunch attracted nationwide attention as the painting brought a record $560,000, purchased by a well known mid-west art foundation. This record stands yet today, even as auction prices for Tanner’s works have escalated to a second highest of $541,000, achieved at Sotheby’s in May of 2008 along with several in the $200,000 to $300,000 range.

On the strength of this result, Bunch attracted two other fresh to the market works by Tanner, consigned by the grandson of Charles Hovey Pepper, an American artist who studied in Paris with Tanner. The two works, gifted to Pepper by Tanner, brought $113,000 for a view titled Entrance to the Casbah and $169,500 for an early work depicting the Interior of a Mosque. These works currently are in the collections of the Saint Louis Museum of Art and The Boston Museum of Fine Arts, respectively.

The work being offered on October 21 was brought to Bunch’s attention last spring when a West Coast appraiser emailed him about valuing the painting for an estate. When Bunch spoke with the family members who inherited the painting, they agreed to consign the work for inclusion in his fall art and antique sale. This oil on canvas is signed and dated 1910 in the lower right corner and is titled Mary on the back of the canvas. It measures 28.5 inches by 23 inches and depicts the Virgin Mother seated with the swaddled infant Jesus with a halo over His head at her feet. The work is estimated at $200,000 to $300,000. Bunch says of the painting: “It exhibits the characteristic glazed blues, greens, and purples of which he was the master as well as a luminescence about the face of Mary that was also seen behind the figure of Christ in the work I sold in 2000. It is a very moving painting. It is exciting to once again be a part of bringing another major and previously unknown work by Henry Ossawa Tanner to the daylight of the market and to give dealers, collectors, and institutions the opportunity to add this picture to the already substantial body of known works by Tanner.”

The 700 plus lot 2 session sale also includes estate silver and jewelry, New England Indian beaded whimsies, rare buttonhook collection, Oriental carpets, other Orientalia and ivories, Staffordshire and American pottery, sculpture, European porcelain and glass, tall case & other clocks, early metal ware, a rare 1775 “Map of the Most Inhabited Part of Virginia …” by Joshua Fry and Peter Jefferson, estimated at $8,000 to $12,000, other early maps, many other paintings, prints, and works by 18th- to 20th-century artists as well as a small selection of autographs. Over 100 lots of 18th- to 20th-century American, English, and Continental furniture will also be sold.

There are two early collectors cars in the sale, including a 1940 Buick Series 40 Model 41-C Five Passenger Four Door Sports Phaeton, estimated at $15,000 to $25,000, a restored 1924 B-70 four door Chrysler Phaeton with the same estimate. More recent and reasonably priced is a 1967 Buick convertible for restoration, estimated at $500 to $1,500!

A fully illustrated catalog will be available on Bunch’s Web site,, 10 days prior to the sale. Absentee and phone bidding is available on all lots and Internet bidding is also available. For further information, call (610) 558-1800, or e-mail [email protected].