Seascape By John F. Kensett Soars to Over $1 Million at Cottone's

  • GENESEO, New York
  • /
  • September 27, 2021

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John F. Kensett’s (American, 1816-1872) oil on canvas painting, “Singing Beach & Eagle Rock, Magnolia, Massachusetts,” tripled its high estimate at Cottone Auctions’ September 18 sale, realizing $1,080,000.
Cottone Auctions



Cottone's Sept. 18th auction featured roughly 170 quality lots from private institutions, estates and individuals. 

The truly sublime Singing Beach & Eagle Rock, Magnolia, Massachusetts by American landscape artist John Frederick Kensett (1816-1872) was the sale's top lot. The painting saw trade competition into the high six figures, and easily surpassed its estimate, selling to a private collector by phone.

Tiffany Lamps Top $1 Million, led by a Peony selling for $390,000.
Cottone Auctions

Cottone was candid. “It has been a privilege to market the painting. I was pleased for our consignor – the Doolittle’s – who could have sent their things anywhere but gave us the opportunity.”

The work was purchased in 1955 by Mrs. Adrian Smith (formerly Lusyd Wright Keating) of Buffalo, NY from Victor D. Spark, New York and bequest to her daughter Cynthia Doolittle in 1971. It has also been previously twice exhibited at the Albright Knox Art Gallery, first in 1958 and again in 1983.

Catalog notes included quotes regarding the painting, including a letter by John K. Howat, assistant curator of American paintings and sculpture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to Mrs. Adrian W. Smith, on May 25, 1965, stating “The Kensett strikes me as being a very fine one. The arrangement and colors are very clear and forceful — a good sign in Kensett’s work. The silence of these spare Kensetts is very impressive.”

Navajo (Second Phase) Chief's Blanket, circa 1860-1870. Late classic period. Sold for $162,000
Cottone Auctions

More recently, Susan Crane, associate curator Albright Knox Art Gallery, in a letter to Mr. & Mrs. Doolittle on March 24, 1983, said, “Your Kensett was an important element in the success of the show — it really made the room glow. Several art historians, in fact, commented on its excellence. It really does rank with the most magnificent of his works, and we are grateful to have been able to show it in the context of his ‘peers’.”

The many outstanding lamps were led by a rare Tiffany Studios Elaborate Peony lamp on a telescopic library base with a 22-inch shade that sold for $390,000; a fine Tiffany Studios Dragonfly table lamp on a reticulated Indian base with a 20-inch shade brought $153,600; a Tiffany Studios, Lily Pad table lamp on a twisted vine base with a 20-inch shade, sold for $127,200; a Tiffany Studios Bamboo table lamp with a 16 in. shade sold for $136,800 and a rare Duffner and Kimberly Poppy floor lamp on a renaissance floor base which sold for $98,400.

Modern and contemporary art included an oil on canvas designator by Ted Stamm (American, 1944-1984), titled DGR-32 (Dodger), selling for $55,200 to an overseas buyer. A gouache by Patrick Heron sold for $23,400 and Maternite by Vu Cao Dam brought $21,600. An oil on board by British artist Tristram Hillier titled “The Mud Berth” sold to a U.K buyer for $16,200.

An Early Tibetan Thangka from a private Rochester, NY collection sold to the phones for $30,000. A fine Turkish Sword (Kilij) from the historic Wadsworth family sold to a buyer in Istanbul for $24,000 and a rare 17th century scagliola table also from the Wadsworth family brought $12,000.

The clocks category featured a rare E. Howard & Co. No 49 astronomical hanging regulator, purchased directly from Edward Howard in 1875 by Henry Abbott, which sold for $174,000 to a bidder by phone. Other highlights included a rare D. J. Gale astronomical calendar gallery clock, patent model 1871 selling for $43,200 and a Robert Houdin, Paris mystery swinging clock sold for $12,000.

Americana featured two exemplary Navajo weavings, one a Second Phase chief’s blanket, circa 1860-1870, the other a Navajo transitional blanket, in near pristine condition. Both were descended in the family of Othniel Charles Marsh, a paleontologist at Yale University. The blankets were purportedly given to him by Red Cloud, the native American Sioux chief. After intense competition the blankets totaled $204,000.  

Period furniture was led by a fine and rare Chippendale serpentine blocked-end slant-front desk, circa 1770, figured mahogany with a deep rich amber patina, shell carved and blocked interior, block ends and bold ball and claw feet with original period brasses, from the Wadsworth family sold for $15,000; and a diminutive New England Queen Anne tiger maple highboy, circa 1740-1760, with a deep rich honey brown patina, cabriole legs and pad feet with period brasses, purchased from Israel Sack in the 1940’s selling for $18,600. 

For more information regarding upcoming sales .... visit

Cottone Auctions
120 Court Street
Geneseo, New York
Cottone Auctions

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