• NEW YORK, New York
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  • February 03, 2016

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Richard Edward Miller (American, 1875-1943), "Woman at her Vanity with Earring," 1910-1914, oil on canvas
Keno Auctions

Despite a week long postponement due to winter weather, Keno Auctions’ Pop-Up auction boasted an 87% sell-through rate on Sunday, January 31st. After a brief introduction by Keno Auctions President, Leigh Keno, New York-based auctioneer Charles Antin led the auction, encouraging lively bidding on lots from excited bidders on the phone and internet.

A fresh to market American Impressionist painting from a Rhode Island Estate brought nearly a quarter of a million dollars. Richard Edward Miller’s Woman at her Vanity with Earring was in untouched condition and had been in the same family for more than a half of a century. “The painting is fresh and vibrant, as it displays the subject matter, light and color play that Richard Edward Miller was experimenting with successfully in Giverny, France from 1910 to 1915,” said Leigh Keno. “This is one of the finest works of his oeuvre, evidenced by the spirited bidding among several phone bidders and final sale result of $245,000.”

Gilbert Stuart (American, 1755-1828), George Washington, circa 1795, oil on canvas
Keno Auctions

A small box incited an extremely spirited battle between phone and internet bidders, resulting in a hefty price of $18,750, nearly five times the pre-sale auction estimate. Attributed to one of the Pennsylvania Compass Artists, the painted and decorated dome-top box, at just 3 15/16 inches tall by 4 7/16 inches wide, is perhaps the most diminutive example known. It also contained a hollow painted and decorated egg with a partially illegible inscription and the date, “1841”. Aside from missing its upper tin clasp, the box is in virtually untouched condition, with darkened original varnish covering bright painted decoration. James Bard’s Towboat William Tittamer brought in $35,000. Boasting an impressive provenance that includes the New York Historical Society, the painting reveals Bard’s characteristic naïve style yet exacting attention to detail.

An historic work of art painted by Gilbert Stuart sold for the second highest price of the day at $185,000. Painted in 1795, George Washington is certainly the rarest, and perhaps the most iconic, of Stuart’s two bust-length depictions of the president. “Vaughan Type” portraits (which show the right side of Washington’s face) resulted from his first sitting with the artist in the spring of 1795; only 17 other copies by Stuart are known. (Examples of the other bust-length version, with the sitter showing the left side of his face, are dubbed “Athenaeum Type” and number about 75). Leigh Keno commented “A Vaughan Type portrait by Stuart has not been recorded in auction records for the past 35 years, and the majority of the 17 other known examples are in the collections of major institutions such as Colonial Williamsburg, the Frick, the Metropolitan Museum, the National Gallery and Winterthur. It was certainly the buy of the sale.”  

Diminutive Paint-Decorated Pine and Poplar Dome-Top Box, Attributed to the “Compasswork Decorator”, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, 1810-1840
Keno Auctions

In order to exercise due diligence, Keno Auctions had commissioned Jennifer Mass, Ph.D., an internationally renowned museum scientist, currently consulting Senior Scientist at the Rijksmuseum and President of Scientific Analysis of Fine Art, LLC, to compare the palette of the Keno Auctions portrait with that of the well-known Vaughan Type portrait at Winterthur (commissioned by wealthy Philadelphian William Bingham).  “Keno Auctions is extremely grateful to the Winterthur Museum for allowing their portrait to be closely examined. In a detailed analysis of each painting and comparison of materials, as well as style, application of materials and techniques, Dr. Mass compiled a report of her findings. The two paintings were examined through x-ray fluorescence and cross-section photomicroscopy and the results provide, ‘DNA-like’ parallels, providing compelling forensic evidence that the present painting is by Gilbert Stuart, and in a date range of 1795-1796,” remarked Keno.

“We were certainly pleased with the results of this Auction and plan to have many more in the future. Fresh, quality merchandise and conservative estimates are a recipe for successful results. The added reach to bidders worldwide by using three bidding platforms - Invaluable, LiveAuctioneers and Bidsquare - insures that we reach the right collectors, institutions and dealers around the world,” said Leigh Keno.

Please note: All prices include buyer’s premium. For More information about the sale, please contact Leigh Keno.

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