Date: Fri 11-Sep-1998

Date: Fri 11-Sep-1998

Publication: Ant

Author: LAURAB

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Northeast Auction's August Sale In Manchester


MANCHESTER, N.H. -- After "How's the condition?" and "What do you think it

will go for?," the third question most commonly asked Ron Bourgeault must be,

"How do you do it?" With 24 highboys and 20 tall case clocks in the latest

line-up, quantity and quality seem to be the answers.

Northeast Auction's August 1-2 sale in Manchester, the kick-off to Antiques

Week in New Hampshire, generated $4.6 million, a record for the firm for a

single sale. Northeast's marine arts sale on August 15-16 added another $2.7

million, for a combined $7.3 million and a record August total.

Consignors included the Art Institute of Chicago and the Philadelphia Museum

of Art; the estates of Russell Carrell, Edgar Bingham, Jr., Sanka Grossman,

and Henry Everton Hosley, to name a few; a member of the Cadwalader family;

and, dealers told us repeatedly but we were unable to confirm, property of a

well-known dealer who is divorcing.

Keeping Up

With The Joneses

The sale's stunning highlight, of course, were seven framed watercolor

portraits of the Jones family of Farmington, N.H., attributed to Joseph H.

(Left Hand) Davis, a folk artist whose substantial legacy dates to a few years

between 1833 and 1837. Six children, framed individually, are shown in

profile, each standing on a flamboyant strip of carpet and dressed in his

Sunday best. The double portrait of Mr and Mrs Jones shows husband and wife

seated across the table from each other, the trappings of their prosperous

middle-class life around them. Each portrait is inscribed with the sitter's

name and dates.

"I got a set picture of them. So did a couple of competitors. I worked fast,"

said Bourgeault, explaining how he landed the lot. Though the auctioneer is

mum, the group is rumored to have been discovered in Florida by two dealers

anxious to preserve their anonymity.

The group sold to Stonington, Conn., dealer Marguerite Riordan for $200,000,

plus premium. The price is a record for a group of Davises; in fact, this is

the largest group known to have been sold. Sotheby's still holds the record

price for a Davis. In 1994, "A Double Portrait of Thomas Thompson and Betsey

Thompson," a 9‹ by 14 inch double portrait from the Little collection, brought

$90,500 with premium.

The Davis family has since gone to a good home in the New York area. In a

subsequent phone conversation, Riordan noted that, while the group's rarity

was unsurpassed, she generally prefers to see Davis watercolors in better

condition. These had stains and foxing, but, in their favor, no restoration.

"They are in their original frames and don't require treatment," she said.

Riordan is known for handling the occasional, brilliant Davis. "Portrait of

Jonathan and Mary Dockum," a watercolor on paper of April 30, 1837, appeared

in her Winter Antiques Show booth last January. Interestingly, another member

of that family, "Charles H. Dockum, Aged 23," dated March 10, 1837, was also

consigned to Northeast's sale, where it sold for $8,250.

Bert and Gail Savage organized the first exhibition of Davis watercolors, at

the Art Institute of Chicago in 1974, and wrote the extensive catalog entry

for Northeast's lot. "I live in the town, Strafford, where in 1836 Davis did

his most famous work. I now suspect after seeing this group that there were

many groups, but they were dispersed to family members over the years.

Families kept the watercolors because their inscriptions gave them meaning to

descendants." Savage said Davis watercolors are often in mediocre condition.

"Maybe they were left out or tucked in a book, rather than framed right away,"

he speculated.

Carrell Yellow

Riordan was also the buyer of a pair of signed portraits by New York State

artist Susan C. Waters (1823-1900), bid to $17,000 on behalf of the New York

State Historical Association in Cooperstown, N.Y. From the estate of Russell

Carrell, the two oil on canvas paintings depict Lyman Kingman and Helen M.

Kingman, who was 15 years old in 1845. Measuring 32 by 27 inches and 20 by 25

inches, the first painting is inscribed on the stretcher; the second, of

Helen, on reverse.

"We have had a pair of Waters portraits but they were unsigned," said NYSHA's

curator, Paul D'Ambrosio. "We bought these because they have been the basis of

a lot of attributions. They are much better documented, and make much more of

a contribution to our collection."

He continued, "We co-sponsor the Cooperstown graduate program. It was

Cooperstown graduate Colleen Heslip who did the original Waters research and

produced a catalogue in 1979. The Kingman portraits were key to her, so we

have a sense of buying back a piece of our own history, as well."

In 1999, its centennial year, the New York State Historical Association is

mounting an exhibition of New York State folk art, of which the portraits will

be part. The centennial will also be celebrated at the 1999 Winter Antiques

Show, where NYSHA's collections will be the basis of the loan show.

A second museum acquisition at Northeast was a pair of Ammi Phillips portraits

of Melissa and Ira Williams. The Sharon, Conn., couple sold to the Sharon

Historical Society for $14,000. The canvases were consigned by descendants,

who attended the sale.

Northeast's August sale is a social occasion, a chance for old friends to

catch up and do business. Single-owner collections and estates offered in

August often have special resonance for the trade. This round, it was Russell

Carrell's collection that conjured both bids and memories.

Two hundred sixty lots from the estate of the late dealer and show manager

were sold Saturday night for about $350,000. The collection reflected

Carrell's flair for decorating, his sense of humor, and his love of robust

color and form.

The evening began with four Sheraton fancy chairs selling to Carrell protegee

Marguerite Riordan for $4,000. The chairs were Carrell's signature shade of

yellow; like Carrell, aggressive, optimistic, unapologetic. To Greg Kramer

went the manager's New England dressing table, also yellow, for $10,500. In

the general sale, the Robesonia, Penn., dealer was an avid buyer of painted

furniture, claiming a yellow corner cupboard decorated with red spindles for

$36,000 and a miniature paint decorated slant-lid desk for $9,250.

"The corner cupboard was the best piece of paint that we bought, and it was

made right here in Berks County," Kramer said later. "The miniature desk is an

extremely rare form to have such interesting paint. The construction is

ultimate and it is totally untouched. As for the dressing table, we don't tend

to deal in New England furniture, but this has exceptional form and wonderful

paint. We had the yellow dressing table from the cover of Fales book at the

Philadelphia show two or three years ago. The form of this one is even


Dozens of lots -- including Carrell's straw market hat, $450; his Louis

Vuitton briefcase, $1,100; and his favorite captain's chair, $500 -- all

apparatus from his famous field shows -- sold to Malcolm Magruder. "Russell

was controversial and provocative, but he was a gentleman," said the Virginia

dealer, recalling the promoter's generosity to dealers and contributions to

the trade.

Lumber Tumbles

Easily the most striking piece of furniture offered was a Connecticut cherry

bonnet-top Chippendale secretary bookcase in its old, russet surface intact.

The delicate looking casepiece stood only 88 inches tall. In addition to a

fitted interior with scalloped valances, it boasted an upper case fancifully

ornamented with pierced fretwork, rosette carvings, and applied moldings.

Quarter columns and a gadrooned base enhanced the lower case.

The secretary desk sold to Harold Cole of Woodbury, Conn., for high estimate,

$90,000. There was pre-sale talk that it might go for $150,000. Cole has since

resold the piece that descended in the Aaron Hall family of Wallingford, Conn.

Experts are debating whether or not the cabinet was made by Eliphalet Chapin

of East Windsor, Conn.

Some of the top furniture lots went to Wayne Pratt. The dealer with shops in

Woodbury, Conn., and Nantucket, Mass., claimed a Massachusetts Chippendale

mahogany blockfront bonnet-top linen press, $75,000; a pair of shapely Boston

Chippendale mahogany side chairs, $47,500; a Hebron, Conn., flattop Queen Anne

maple highboy, $36,000; and a Massachusetts bonnet-top highboy, $20,000.

Sparking bids all over the room, a pretty tiger-maple six-drawer Portsmouth

chest with Levi Chandler's signature scrawled on it in chalk went to Arthur

Liverant for $29,000. The Colchester, Conn., dealer also got a Norwich, Conn.,

tall case clock by Thomas Harland, for $26,000.

G.W. Samaha bid a pair of Portsmouth Queen Anne walnut side chairs to $35,000.

Appropriately, an 1826 map of the Western Reserve also went to the Milan, Ohio

dealer, for $21,000.

An exquisitely proportioned New Hampshire candlestand in old finish had

Marguerite Riordan's name all over it. The Stonington, Conn., dealer said the

$24,000 stand will almost certainly be in her Winter Antiques Show booth if

she doesn't sell it first.

John Delaney said he had never seen a Simon Willard wall clock like the one he

got for $60,000. "It may well be one of a kind," said the Townsend, Mass.,

clock dealer, who acquired half a dozen timepieces at Northeast.

An assortment of Windsor seating furniture came from a Midwestern collection,

Bourgeault said. Heading the selection was a Philadelphia lowback armchair

illustrated in Santore, $27,000; a funky multiple-arm writing chair, $26,000;

a Pennsylvania comeback Windsor armchair in black paint, $12,000; and a set of

six Massachusetts white-painted bamboo turned side chairs, $10,500.

Folk Art

For folk art aficionados, there was enough to warrant attending the sale.

Among lots not pictured on these pages, an 1805 silk needlework memorial by

Mary Chapin Warren, together with Polly Chapin's 1792 silk needlework

depicting a cornucopia, fetched $26,000; a 48-inch J.W. Fiske horse

weathervane went to $20,000; a Charles Looff standing horse carousel figure in

old paint brought $14,000; a painted zinc hunting dog, 50 inches long,

achieved $17,000; and a watercolor of two children in a landscape attributed

to John Ritto Penniman crossed the block at $22,000.

Coming In November

With the ink barely dry on its August ledger, Northeast Auction was at work

photographing lots for its November 7-8 sale at the Center of New Hampshire

Holiday Inn in Manchester.

Featured will be four Gaines Portsmouth chairs from the Brewster family, on

loan to the Warner House for half a century. The auctioneer puts their value

at roughly $250,000. Also to be sold is property from the Betsy and Eddie

Vantine collection of American Queen Anne and Chippendale furniture; the Frank

MacGregor Smith collection of American country furniture and accessories;

selections from the estate of E. Hyde Cox of Manchester-by-the Sea; a

Connecticut tall clock by Thomas Harland of Norwich, from an American

collector; and selections from the early American collection of Esther and

Jack Larson.

The sale of the controversial, 1800-piece collection of parian deaccessioned

by the Bennington Museum has yet to be scheduled. "We just got the room to

unpack it," said Bourgeault. "But it will be sold over a period of a year."

Prices do not include Northeast's buyers' premium of 15 percent on the first

$50,000 and 10 percent on the remaining balance.