FREEPORT, MAINE — Of the 537 lots offered in Casco Bay Auctions’ August 13 Summer Americana Auction, a rare sailor themed hooked rug sailed into first place, achieving $10,200 against an estimate of $1,2/1,800. Worked in the early Twentieth Century, and inscribed “A Sailor Thinks of Distant Friends / Of His Wife and Humble Cot / And From His inmost Heart Ascends / The Prayer ~ Forget Me Not,” the 30-by-49-inch rug was attributed to possibly the work of James and Mercedes Hutchinson. It sold to a local collector bidding online. Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium; watch for a longer review in a future issue.
BUFORD, GA. — “In the Beginning…” of Slotin Folk Art’s August 6-7 Fun Folk Art & Paradise Garden Fundraiser auction were a favorite biblical couple. Levent Isik’s Adam and Eve were presented holding hands in a lacelike garden of trees and took the sale’s penultimate price of $4,875, well over the $2/3,000 catalog estimate. The signed, dated and titled enamel on board from 1997 measured 20½ by 17½ and had provenance to Jim and Lynne Browne. It was being sold to benefit the Paradise Garden Foundation, one of 23 lots in the 755 lot auction to do so. Only two lots were passed from the podium, with the sale totaling $426,000. Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house; a more extensive sale recap will appear in a future issue.
By Madelia Hickman Ring NEWTOWN, CONN. — The Smith family announces with sadness the passing of R. Scudder Smith on August 14, 2022; he was 87 years old. Born on April 12, 1935, Robert Scudder Smith was the elder son of Paul Scudder Smith and Mary Starr Conger Smith, and older brother to Mary Starr Adams and Ted Smith. He attended his father’s alma mater, Amherst College, briefly, in 1953 but in 1954, he enlisted for three years with the United States Marine Corps, where he trained as a navigator at Cherry Point, N.C. There, he met and married Helen Willis, settling in upstate New York in 1957 where he attended Union College in Schenectady, N.Y. Smith’s family company has owned and published The Newtown Bee for 141 of its 145 years; Scudder worked at the paper beginning in 1961; he succeeded his father Paul as editor in 1972. On June 28, 2022, local luminaries, including Newtown’s First Selectman, both of Connecticut’s US Senators and the Fifth District US Congresswoman, honored The Newtown Bee for its longevity and to celebrate Smith and his family’s love for and dedication to the community. Scudder’s passion for antiques manifested in The Newtown Bee’s sister paper, Antiques and The Arts Weekly, which he founded in 1963 and began as four pages of antiques coverage in The Newtown Bee. It has covered antique shows, auctions, museum exhibitions and related art-world events since then. In 2006, the Antiques Dealers Association of America (ADA) honored Scudder with its Award of Merit for his contribution to the industry that has been substantially shaped by Antiques and The Arts Weekly. Scudder and Helen began buying antiques during their life in Schenectady, gradually gravitating to folk sculpture, with weathervanes, game boards, whirligigs and carousel figures forming the core
SARASOTA, FLA. — A one sheet lithograph titled “Annie Oakley The Peerless Wing and Rifle Shot,” printed by the Enquirer Printing Co., in Cincinnati, in 1901, scored top marks in Freedom Auction Company’s August 6 Circus, Wild West & Sideshow Memorabilia Auction. Centering a portrait of Annie Oakley surrounded by scenes of her in various performances, the rare poster had been professionally conserved and was now on linen in a matted gilt frame measuring 50 by 37½ inches. Estimated at $80/120,000, the poster, which had provenance to the Ken Harck Collection, sold to a private collector buyer, bidding on the phone, for $98,875. It was the high price in a 776-lot sale. Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium; watch for a roundup of highlights in an upcoming issue.
Pair of chairs designed by actor and interior designer William Haines seated the top price at $11,250. Review by Z.G. Burnett, Photos Courtesy of Capsule Auctions WESTHAMPTON, N.Y. – The Capsule Gallery Auction continued its sale of entertainment magnate Seymour Stein’s collection with an onsite auction in its Westhampton Beach warehouse on July 28. The sale was part of an ongoing series hosted at the warehouse and follows Capsule’s Deco + Design II show featuring Stein’s ceramics collection on June 15. With a few fine works of art and large-scale advertising pieces in the catalog, the majority of lots offered were early Twentieth Century decorative arts, predominantly furniture. With almost 200 items to be picked up at the warehouse within the next two days following the auction, the sales totaled $186,464. First among these was a pair of sculpted leather chairs with a distinct stitching chain down the center, as well as an old Christie’s tag, designed by William “Billy” Haines (American, 1900-1973). A man with a colorful past, Haines had a host of jobs after running away from home at 14, eventually being spotted by a talent scout and becoming an actor in the early film industry. Haines was an openly gay man whose sexuality made him a target for the law and society at large, and after being fired from Metro Goldwyn Mayer he and his longtime partner began an interior design and antiques dealing business. These chairs are believed to be from a limited production run, showcased in the “Desert Living Room” at the Golden Gate International Exposition in 1939, and they sold for $11,250. Second place belonged to “The Competitor,” an almost-nude bronze of a runner by Robert Tait Mackenzie (American, b Canada, 1867-1938), kneeling to lace his shoe
NANTUCKET, MASS. — Rafael Osona Auctions had a whirlwind weekend with its August 6 Americana, Fine Art and Decor sale, followed by a Marine Auction on August 7. The highest price between both days was achieved by Anne Ramsdell Congdon’s (1873-1958) “View From Monomoy,” which sold for $123,000 ($60/80,000). Painted circa 1941, the oil on canvas shows a view of Nantucket from Monomoy Island, which is part of Chatham, Mass., and just north of Nantucket. Congdon began her career as a watercolorist and was a member of the of The Society of Arts and Crafts in Boston, later moving to Nantucket and joining the island’s then-burgeoning Art Colony. She and her husband lived at 5 Orange Street, and she exhibited regularly at the Easy Street Gallery through the 1940s. More on these sales to follow in an upcoming issue.
Grogan & Company is an institution of the Beacon Hill neighborhood of Boston, selling across the globe from its Charles Street showroom. Founded by Michael B. Grogan, the auction house is operated by a team of young professionals, most of whom are women. Georgina C. Winthrop is the vice president, fine art director and auctioneer at Grogan & Company, also sitting on the steering committee for the museum council for the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and is on the board of governors for the nearby Nichols House Museum. Taylor P. See is the auction house’s jewelry director and is currently working towards her graduate gemologist degree at the Gemological Institute of America. We spoke with these two women to learn more about their backgrounds and positions within Grogan & Company. Congratulations on your appointments to vice president and jewelry director! Tell our readers about your backgrounds. Georgina C. Winthrop (GW): Thank you! My background is Boston through and through – I grew up in Beacon Hill, just around the corner from where our auction gallery is today. I earned my undergraduate degree at Harvard, where I majored in art history. After graduating in 2014, I joined Grogan & Company as the auction coordinator. Since 2015, I have been running and growing our fine art department and continue to do so while also working closely with Michael Grogan, our president, in my role as vice president. Taylor P. See (TS): Thank you! I am a New England transplant – I grew up in Las Vegas and went to Texas Christian University, where I was a world-ranked equestrian. I’ve lived in Boston for about ten years, seven of which have been spent at Grogan & Company. Like Georgina, I began as the auction coordinator, before transitioning into the jewelry department
SPARKS, MD. — It is customary at Crocker Farm auctions for the first lot across to provide the sale’s fireworks, and that was again the case on August 5 when the firm’s summer stoneware auction closed with Lot 1, a highly important cobalt-decorated stoneware Grover Cleveland pitcher, signed and dated “Anna Pottery / January 15, 1885,” selling for $120,000, including buyer’s premium. By Wallace and Cornwall Kirkpatrick, Anna, Ill., the wheel-thrown, ovoid-bodied pitcher with wide pouring spout was extravagantly decorated around the body with a sculpted figure of President Grover Cleveland flanked by three other figures. Cleveland assumes a confident pose with coiffed hair and hands tucked in his pockets, wearing a double-breasted suit and checkered pants, his chest emblazoned with the incised title, “President / 1885.” As with most Anna figures, the message behind the figure is clearly social commentary. Two goateed figures flanking the president grab his shoulder and whisper in his ear, one with open jacket pocket, inscribed “Change,” the other also with jacket pocket opened and inscribed “Reform.” Both images follow the Kirkpatricks’ oft-repeated commentary on American political corruption and the idea of money buying power. A fourth, subtly smiling goateed figure with hands plunged deep in his pockets appears on the reverse. Acquired by the consignor from a Kirkpatrick family descendant in 1985, the figure stood 11¾ inches high. Watch for a more extensive review of this sale to follow.
“Large Turquoise Urchin Basket” by Jeremy Frey (Passamaquoddy, b 1978, Indian Township, Maine), 2019, brown ash and sweetgrass, overall: 5¼ by 11½ inches diameter. Museum purchase through the Kenneth R. Trapp Acquisition Fund. By James D. Balestrieri WASHINGTON DC – Craft has come into its own. At a moment when the word “craft” is everywhere – think “craft beer” – you might think that craft would be relegated to the position of art’s poorer cousin, as it has in the past. Where “artisan” sidles up to “art,” craft, as demonstrated in “This Present Moment: Crafting A Better World,” now on view at the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, blurs and smashes any remaining boundaries with art, even as it asserts its own identity. It wasn’t that long ago that craft could be defined – generally by non-craftspeople – as utility of form expressed through exceptional skill. There’s always been a sort of Taoist condescension towards craft, a “Truly the great cutter does not cut” attitude that single-minded repetition and a oneness with the tools of the trade are the hallmarks of craft, as opposed to the flashes of inspiration and lofty aspirations that mark the true artist. Take one quick look at a great piece of stained glass, however, and this false dichotomy breaks down in a hurry. Many of the objects in “This Present Moment” play with utility, repudiate utility entirely or repurpose utility into unique, one-of-a-kind works of art that unite beauty with activism. Meaning is their utility. And, after all, craft throughout the ages – baskets, furniture, textiles, pottery, glass – to name five forms, has sprung in large measure from the work of women, people of color and the laboring class. The evolution of these, and
EAST DENNIS, MASS. — There were exciting times on the water during Eldred’s two-session Marine Sale, conducted on August 4 and 5. The prize of both auctions was an exceptional scrimshaw whale’s tooth by the “vignette artist” of the Nineteenth Century. At 6¾ inches in length, the tooth was almost as wide, providing a broad expanse for the anonymous scrimshander’s work. The whaling scene, although jarring to some modern viewers, was magnificently rendered and showed five boats in pursuit of sperm whales. In addition to the main action, there was also a detail panel showing an enlarged boat with sailors cheering on their crewmates in the hunt. The tooth achieved $106,250, well within its $90/120,000 estimate. More on the bounties of these two sessions in an upcoming issue.