Shannon Fine Art Auctioneers enjoyed a banner year in 2011, grossing over $7.6 million in just two sales. It was a record year for the firm, which conducts two auctions per year (in April and October) in its gallery located at 354 Woodmont Road in Milford, Connecticut. Shannon’s is currently accepting quality consignments for its next big sale, planned for Apr. 26.
While the October 2011 event was a solid, respectable auction, grossing $2.5 million, the April sale was the real barn-burner, with some spectacular consignments and eager bidders combining for a $5.1 million gross. That was by far the most Shannon’s had posted in one sale, and that came as good - but not unexpected - news for Gene Shannon, the owner of the company.
“We were fortunate in two respects last year,” Mr. Shannon remarked. “First, we had some truly wonderful consignments that made holding a successful sale almost easy. But more importantly, we had – and still have – aggressive client-collectors who aren’t shy about spending money to acquire the pieces they want. As long as the quality is there, the clients will step up.”
The top lot of the April sale (and the top lot of the year) was an oil on canvas landscape scene of trees, water and mountains by Louis Remy Mignot (Am., 1831-1870), initialed and dated (“M/61”), 22 inches by 36 inches ($516,000). The top lot of the October auction was an oil on canvas landscape scene by Jasper Francis Cropsey (Am., 1823-1900), dated 1873 ($252,000).
Works by 19th century American artists continued to be in high demand (and fetch high dollars). An oil on paper on canvas landscape of a sunrise (or sunset) with trees, mountains and figures by Sanford Robinson Gifford (1823-1888), titled Bend in the Juanita River, hit $204,000.
There are two other noteworthy examples from the same category. One was an oil on board self-portrait by John F. Peto (1854-1907), showing the artist seated in his studio, holding a palette. The 1904 work made $156,000. Also, a signed and dated (1888) oil on canvas of a still life with apples, grapes, peaches and pear by Robert S. Dunning (1829-1905) garnered $48,000.
Impressionism also proved to be popular, with three original oil on canvases topping the $100,000 mark. The top earner was a signed work by Mary Bradish Titcomb (Am., 1858-1927), executed around 1905 and titled Two Girls, Old Lyme. The 40 ¼ inches by 30 ¼ inches work showed two women, outdoors, one knitting and the other one looking on. It sold for $120,000.
The other two were a signed 21 inches by 28 inches snowy landscape scene by Walter Launt Palmer (Am., 1854-1932), showing a river and snow-laden trees ($114,000); and a portrait of a little girl in a doorway dressed in a white dress and hat and with a white cat by her side, by Charles S. Hopkinson (Am., 1869-1962), titled The Piazza Door, executed in 1911 ($108,000).
Modern Art also fared well. A signed and dated oil on Masonite work by Theodoros Stamos (Am., 1922-1997), titled Venetian Mirror (1949), 24 ½ inches by 39 ½ inches, changed hands for $123,000; and a large (69 inched by 98 ¼ inches) acrylic on canvas rendering of vertical red and black lines by Gene Davis (Am., 1920-1985), titled Night Rider, made $55,200.
Other Modern Art works included an acrylic on canvas by Paul Jenkins (Am., b. 1925), showing an L-shaped image rendered in bold, vivid, striped colors. The 78 inches by 58 inches work, titled Phenomenon – Shoulder to Sun (1981), went for $27,060. Also sold: a signed 1973 oil on canvas by Ilya Bolotowsky (Am., 1907-1981), titled Variation in Red Diamond ($26,400).
Collectors gobbled up Pop Art with gusto. A screenprint in color on white wove paper by Roy Lichtenstein (Am., 1923-1977), titled Reverie (1965), from the 11 Pop Artists portfolio Vol. II, brought $120,000; while a wood, paint, clay and graphite rendering of a tall, slim saxophone player by Marisol Escobar (Fr., b. 1930), titled Zoot (83 inches tall), topped out at $92,250.
A signed and dated (1965) stylized oil on canvas by Gerald Laing (Br., b. 1936), titled Number 71, showing a girl at the beach, wearing a hat and pink and white bikini, 46 inches by 30 inches, breezed to $96,000; and an acrylic on canvas work of a rearview mirror, left turn sign and asphalt highway by Allan D’Arcangelo (Am., 1930-1998), titled Straight Ahead, rose to $84,000.
A signed and dated (1964-65) oil on canvas of a nude woman kneeling on a suitcase by John Wesley (Am., b. 1928), titled Suitcase, knocked down at $84,000; and an oil and collage on canvas rendering of a dog perched atop an assortment of stacked objects by Robert Smithson (Am., 1938-1973), titled Bronze Dog Over Compression (dated 1962), commanded $39,360.
Two sculptures sold for similar amounts. A bronze with brown patina by Medardo Rosso (It., 1858-1928), titled Gavroche and showing the head and collar of a young woman on a small stone base, achieved $36,000; and a 1904 bronze with brown patina by Bessie Potter Vonnoh (Am., 1872-1955), depicting a mother and child and titled A Modern Madonna, fetched $33,600. Rounding out a list of last year’s top lots: a clever oil on board trompe l’oeil of three guns shooting paper currency, with bullets and coins, by Otis Kaye (Am., 1885-1974), titled Gunfight Today O. Kayes Corral, hammered for $72,000; and a signed and dated (1961) oil on canvas by William Ronald (Am./Can., 1926-1998), showing colorful bold vertical strokes, made $60,000.
Already Shannon’s is anticipating a record-shattering auction this spring. “Based on what has already been consigned, and what’s waiting in the wings, the April 26 auction could very well be our best sale ever,” said Mr. Shannon. “To have secured so many great works so soon is remarkable. The economy overall might be soft, but the market for high-end artwork is strong.”
Shannon’s Fine Art Auctioneers is one of only two auction houses in the country that sells only fine art. Its auctions include paintings, watercolors, drawings and rare prints. Historically, Shannon’s has specialized in American and European art executed between 1840 and 1940. But in recent years the firm has expanded more into post-war Modern and Pop art.
Shannon’s produces a 180-page, full-color catalog and an eight-page, oversize color brochure that is mailed to 18,000 clients. Paintings consigned to Shannon’s are viewed by collectors, museum directors, appraisers and clients with an interest in fine international art. The firm markets itself online worldwide and in newsletters and magazines in Europe and the U.S.
Shannon’s Fine Art Auctioneers will be accepting quality consignments for the Apr. 26 sale through Mar. 10. To consign a single piece of artwork, an estate or an entire collection, you may call them at (203) 877-1711; or, you can e-mail them at email@example.com. To learn more about Shannon’s and the upcoming Apr. 26 fine art auction please log on to www.shannons.com.