On January 17, Copley Fine Art Auctions will conduct its first Winter Sale, offering 430 lots of top-notch American paintings, decoys and related folk art. The first lot will cross the block at 11 AM, and all items will be available for preview from 10 AM to 8 PM on Saturday, January 15 and Sunday, January 16 in Wallace Hall at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola, 980 Park Avenue. Copley is pleased to be teaming up with Keno Auctions, which will conduct its Winter Sale the following day, January 18. These auctions will kick off Americana Week in New York.
Headlining the painting selection is a noteworthy oil on canvas by Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait (1819-1905) titled Guarding the Catch ($125/175,000). Tait, who is known as one of America's earliest sporting artists, was drawn to art and the outdoors early in life. He trained in England but found success after his move to America, where he settled in New York and spent time painting in the Adirondacks. Tait quickly gained membership to the National Academy of Design, and Guarding the Catch is a classic example of his ability to tell a story in paint, as the objects surrounding the dog, a predecessor of the Labrador Retriever, engage the viewer in a unique way. Of this impressive work Copley Chairman and Fine Art specialist Stephen O’Brien, Jr. notes, “It is one of the most important American dog paintings that we have ever had the privilege to bring to market. The composition, subject, condition, and provenance are all first rate. Very few of Tait’s large oils are held in private hands, and this is a rare opportunity for the right acquisitor.”
Also crossing the block will be a number of fine Western and wildlife scenes, led by an oil painting by artist and sportsman William Harnden Foster. Foster was one of the founders of skeet shooting, and the rules appeared on the pages of National Sportsman, where the artist served as editor. Across the Canyon ($30/50,000), a rare and important western scene, appeared on the cover of the October 1930 issue of the same magazine. Other wildlife and western works in the sale include a depiction of mountain goats by Michael Coleman titled In The Cliffs ($10/15,000), an oil painting of Jenny Lake by Ogden Pleissner ($15/20,000), and an outstanding offering of big game etchings by Carl Rungius from a single private collection.
A fine watercolor by New England artist Frank W. Benson, featuring a dramatic view of the Maine coastline near the artist's North Haven summer home, is also included. Western Bay ($30/50,000) was painted in 1922, the same year the artist was awarded a medal by the Art Institute of Chicago for his outstanding watercolor work. Western Bay displays the confident brushstrokes of an American master.
An exceptional selection of upland shooting and salmon fishing scenes by Ogden M. Pleissner will be offered, including The Orchard Cover ($40/60,000), which showcases Pleissner's ability to recreate the fleeting moment of suspense during a hunt. Grouse Shooting ($30/60,000) typifies his mastery of composition and balance, and five fishing scenes round out the fine selection of works by Pleissner. These include a study for Upper Malbaie, Grande River ($3/6,000) which was reproduced as a print, three additional studies, and a full-sheet watercolor of Stanton's Camp ($30/40,000), a classic lodge in the Miramichi system built for Seabury Stanton, who headed the New England textile firm of Berkshire Hathaway until the 1960s.
Copley continues its tradition of bringing exceptional works to the market by top artists who painted dogs, with a notable oil on canvas of a setter and ruddy duck by Percival Rosseau ($30/50,000), two works by Edmund Osthaus, and a cover piece for Field & Stream by Arthur D. Fuller, among others. The selection of waterfowl paintings reads like a who's who of sporting art, with works on offer by Harry Adamson, George Browne, Roland Clark, R. LeBarre Goodwin, Lynn Bogue Hunt, Francis Lee Jaques, and Sir Peter Scott. For the avid waterfowl art collector, a stunning custom-presented set of fifteen early Federal Duck Stamps and Prints will be offered ($15/25,000), from the very first - Ding Darling's 1934 design - through Roger E. Preuss' 1950 work (the set does not have the 1942 stamp). This set includes the very rare first edition of Francis Lee Jaques' 1940 stamp of black ducks, of which only 30 were printed.
The selection of American paintings is headlined by a large-scale ski scene by Eric Sloane, who depicted traditional New England scenes and activities. In this work, titled Rhone Valley - Sunrise on Pennine Alps, two skiers descend the slopes in the fresh morning powder ($10/20,000). Harold M. Brett, who made his name creating works for Harper's Weekly at the turn of the century, is represented by an important oil of a checkers game ($10/15,000), and a delightful campfire scene by Karl Witkowski will also be on display ($10/20,000). Two idyllic pastoral scenes by Aiden Lassell Ripley join with a dramatic cliff scene by William Trost Richards ($5/10,000) to round out the offering of American paintings.
Fishing highlights include three fine works of leaping billfish. The dramatic Frank Hoffman painting of a sailfish, titled Excitement a-Plenty!, was reproduced for a Brown & Bigelow calendar in 1943 ($8/12,000), and two works by British wildlife artist Keith Shackleton that are characteristic of the artist's action-packed paintings full of vibrant colors, animated brushstrokes, and unique stylized waves (each $1/3,000).
Nine original works by Massachusetts artist Aiden Lassell Ripley will come across the block. Prominent paintings by the artist include Landlocked Salmon Water ($25/35,000), a watercolor featured in The Ultimate Fishing Book, and a classic life-size winter grouse scene titled Grouse Budding ($10/20,000), which is joined by a study for the same painting. Trout from Laurel Brook ($5/10,000) and Buck Deer ($5/10,000) round out the watercolors on offer by Ripley.
The second portion of the Winter Sale will feature two hundred and thirty decoy lots by renowned craftsmen such as A. Elmer Crowell, Lee Dudley, Albert Laing, Joseph Lincoln, and John Tax, in addition to thirty lots of assorted sporting books from the collection of H. Wendell Endicott. The color catalog is available for $40 and is posted online. Auction highlights and information on consigning and bidding is also available online. To order a catalog or for more information, www.copleyart.com or (617) 536-0030. Copley Fine Art Auctions, LLC is at 268 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02116.
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