Clarke Auction Uncovers Two Jasper Cropsey Hudson River Oils

On March 5th, 2011, auctioneer/owner Ronan Clarke of Clarke Auction had provided his company’s premises, and along with other local appraisers, volunteered his expertise for an antiques appraisal day to benefit the Larchmont Historical Society.

While over a hundred people over four hours paid up to forty dollars apiece to have their treasures or mysteries evaluated, the last two couples squeezing in the door were a mother and daughter with a vintage toaster, and a husband and wife with two older framed pieces of art.

What crops up?
The art initially appeared to be chromolithographs or European oils bearing spurious signatures as one was faintly signed Cropsey. However, Ronan Clarke pointed out the great quality of the oils, found a faint inscription on the back, and noticed the small figures of Indians among the dark foliage of one of the paintings. Mr. Clarke called over his colleague Tom Curran for a second opinion who agreed with his assessment, and quickly found a similar record of a Cropsey painting by the title “Autumn in America” in the archives of the Smithsonian.

The couple who brought the paintings in had little knowledge of their history other than they had been in the family for three generations, hanging in the parents’ recreation room since the 1960’s. In fact, they had already been offered $250 for the paintings by a cleanout service disposing of their mother’s estate. Instead, the couple brought the paintings home, and spotted the local ad for the Historical Society’s appraisal day.

Each painting was sized and framed identically in the inner lining of what were obviously much larger giltwood frames. The painting faintly inscribed “Autumn in America” depicted a majestic fall landscape framed by mountains with small Indians in the foreground. The other oil was a winter scene of Niagara Falls with hunters trudging through the snow.

Ronan Clarke noted that “the paintings obviously had age and superb quality, and the consignor’s story rang true to me.”

Based on his gut feeling that the paintings were right, the consignors signed over the works for further evaluation. Although initially skeptical, after reviewing images, the Newington-Crospey Foundation in Hastings New York agreed to see the paintings in person. Nelia Moore of Clarke then brought the paintings to Hastings for the decision of the experts.

The verdict?
Both paintings were quickly authenticated by the Foundation as genuine and rare Cropseys, each are signed, with “Autumn in America” known through a similar work at the Minnesota Museum of Art, and the Niagara oil, now identified as “Prospect Point, Niagara Falls in Winter”, previously known only through a sketch in the collection of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

Each 15″ x 24″ Cropsey oil is conservatively estimated by Clarke Auction to sell between $40,000 to $60,000. The vintage toaster, not consigned to this auction, was estimated to be worth $50.

While the Cropsey oils are expected to be the May 15th highlight, the auction will consist of over 400 lots including fine art by Jerome Myers, Hermann Herzog, William Zorach, Andre Albertin, E.H. Boddington, and Eugene Courteille; Art Deco vases by Roger Guerin and Louis Paul Mergier; silver such as a 1880 Gorman ornate tea service, a pairt of Gorham midcentury “Celeste” candelabra, a 19th C. 950 French flatware service; a pair of Persian candelabra marked 84 and Vartan; period American Empire antiques; 19th C. French marbletop and ormolu mounted pieces; semi-antique Persian carpets; examples of Midcentury Modern design, and a large single owner collection of gold, diamond, emerald, pearls, and micromosaic jewelry.

Previews onsite are Thursday, Friday and Saturday, May 12-13-14, 12 Noon to 6:00 pm. The auction will take place on Sunday, May 15th, at 12:00 Noon. Full catalogue at

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