• EAST DENNIS, Massachusetts
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  • October 28, 2020

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Wedding Dance by Ralph E. Cahoon, Jr. is one of the top lots at Eldred's Fall Sale

East Dennis, Mass. – Described as an “American Masterpiece”, a circa 1770 Connecticut highboy leads Eldred’s annual Fall Sale, scheduled for November 19 and 20 at the firm’s headquarters in East Dennis, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod. The diverse 950-lot sale will also include important 19th Century and contemporary fine art, sporting art, decoys and firearms, marine art, Oriental rugs, and American and European decorative arts, and it features several estate and private collections.

“I was thrilled with how this sale came together with such a diverse offering of fine estate consignments,” said Joshua Eldred, president of the firm and head of its Fine Arts department. “We always try to offer as much fresh-to-the-market merchandise as possible, and this sale is no exception.”  

A Chippendale Bonnet-Top Highboy, described as an "American Masterpiece" carries a $40,000/60,000 estimate.

The highboy, in cherry with an old mellow finish, has a carved and molded bonnet fronted by two solid raised panels, very similar to that seen on Goddard-Townsend examples. It is believed this piece originated in north coastal Connecticut, well within the sphere of influence of the Newport-based cabinetmakers. 

“You wish the piece could talk so you could find out who made it,” said Bill Bourne, Eldred’s vice president and head of its Americana department. “When you look at how much work and detail went into the piece, from the beautifully carved finials and the dentil molding, to the fan and shell carvings, and the nice high feet, it could be considered museum quality.” The highboy is the anticipated top lot of the sale, carrying a $40,000/60,000 estimate.

The lot immediately following the highboy is a Chippendale bonnet-top secretary, also originating from north coastal Connecticut, which has similar plinths, construction and solid raised panels at the front of the bonnet.

“For a moment, when I first saw the secretary at the house, I thought ‘Wow – it could be the same cabinetmaker as the highboy’,” Bourne said. Upon closer inspection, however, he concluded it is not the same hand, and while it is a very fine example, the highboy “is a couple steps above.” The secretary has a more modest $3,000/5,000 estimate, though it has also garnered significant pre-sale interest.

Other top furniture lots in the sale include a Queen Anne lowboy attributed to Nathaniel Gould of Salem, Massachusetts, estimated at $20,000/25,000, a circa 1760 Boston Queen Anne tray-top tea table, estimated at $5,000/7,000, and a circa 1780 Massachusetts Chippendale oxbow bureau, estimated at $4,000/6,000.

The oxbow bureau comes from the estate of Carl and Mary Breyer of Massachusetts, one of the private estates and collections featured in the sale. The Breyers were avid collectors of 18th and 19th Century American furniture and paintings, and Carl Breyer served as trustee of Old Sturbridge Village for many years. Other highlights from their collection include a set of four Queen Anne side chairs signed “E Stephenson”, believed to have been signed by the widow Elizabeth Stephenson after she purchased the set with relief funds she received following the Great Fire of Boston in 1760, estimated at $2,500/3,500, and a circa 1800 Simon Willard tall-case clock with a mahogany and mahogany veneer Roxbury case, estimated at $12,000/18,000.

The sale features several important clocks, from tall-case clocks by Simon Willard and Aaron Willard, to a rare David Wood Massachusetts shelf clock, estimated at $8,000/12,000. Also included is a Blunt & Nichols astronomical regulator clock, believed to be have been a master clock used at Penn Station in Philadelphia. It carries at $12,000/15,000 estimate.

More than 300 paintings and prints are included in the sale, “running the gamut from traditional 19th Century American landscapes to modernist works,” Eldred said. “I think it is one of the more well-rounded groups we have handled in quite some time and I am eager to see how our clients react.”

Notable lots include a still life of fruit by Robert Spear Dunning (American, 1829-1905), the cover lot of the auction catalog, estimated at $20,000/30,000, a coastal landscape, possibly California, by John Ross Key (American, 1837-1920), estimated at $8,000/12,000, “Harmony in Broken Colors” by Charles Green Shaw (New York, 1892-1974), estimated at $5,000/10,000, and “Butterflies” by Hunt Slonem (American, b. 1951), estimated at $5,000/7,000.

An anticipated top seller is a proof for “Formulation : Articulation”, the limited edition set of iconic Josef Albers prints issued in 1972. Albers himself selected the images to include and chose to arrange them based on color relationships rather than in chronological order. The proof set, which bears printers marks and notations, includes three additional folders not present in the final version, though one folder from the final version is not included in the proof. The set was given by Albers to a friend and employee of Sirocco Screenprints, then it descended to the current consignor. It carries a $15,000/20,000 estimate.  

The sale also includes two works by modernist E. Ambrose Webster (American, 1869-1935), “The Cabbage Patch, Bermuda”, estimated at $15,000/20,000, and “Provincetown Garden, 1916”, estimated at $12,000/15,000. Both exhibit the Fauvist-inspired artist’s vigorous use of color and light.

The anticipated top-selling painting in the sale is “The Wedding Dance” by Ralph E. Cahoon, Jr. (American, 1910-1982), estimated at $30,000/50,000. The Chinese-influenced scene of sailors, women and mermaids dancing by a shoreside teahouse with Chinese junks and clipper ships anchored offshore, is one of five works by Cahoon or his wife, Martha Farham Cahoon (American, 1905-1999), included in the auction. It comes to market from a private New England Collection, another one of the featured groupings in the sale.

The Websters and Cahoons are part of a large selection of other Cape Cod and Provincetown art included in the sale, highlighted by two Anne Packard (American, b. 1933) large-scale oils featuring a red dory in a sparse seascape, estimated at $10,000/15,000 and $20,000/30,000. Paintings by contemporary artists William R. Davis, John Dowd and Robert Cardinal are also included, as are works by early- to mid-20th Century painters Karl Knaths (American, 1891-1971), William Formby Halsall (American, 1841-1919) and Hans Hoffman (American, 1880-1966).

Several of the Provincetown works come from a Provincetown-area estate, notably “After Church, Provincetown”, an oil on canvas by Ross E. Moffett (American, 1888-1971), estimated at $15,000/20,000, and “Moon Light (Sheepshead) Provincetown 1941”, a woodcut by Oliver Newberry Chaffee (American, 1881-1944), estimated at $3,000/5,000.

The estate also includes a significant collection of material pertaining to award-winning children’s book author and illustrator Maurice Sendak, including signed first editions, personalized sketches and ephemera.  

The other featured estates and collections in the sale include the contents of a home in Chatham, Massachusetts, highlighted by a Pennsylvania Queen Anne lowboy, estimated at $2,000/3,000, the collection of renowned craftsman Bill Roth and artist Sandra K. Bliss Roth, which includes several pieces of his period reproduction furniture as well as antique examples, and the Kelton Collection of Marine Art and Artifacts.

Eldred’s is auctioning items from the massive collection of businessman and philanthropist Richard Kelton over several auctions in 2020 and 2021. This sale’s offerings are focused around the “Clipper Ship Era” of the mid-1800s and include an important group of Nathaniel Currier prints depicting the most famous ships of the period, as well as fine ship models and ship portrait paintings by American, British and Chinese artists. Highlights include a view of the schooner George Bailey off Sandy Hook by William Gay and Mary E. Yorke, estimated at $8,000/12,000, and a builder’s plating half hull model of the ship Lismore, estimated at $2,500/3,500.    

Other highlights from the sale include an important and exceedingly rare political cartoon of Revolutionary War interest, estimated at $2,500/3,500, a rare copper and zinc Lady Liberty weather vane, estimated at $20,000/30,000, several lots of garden statues, notably a pair of French bronze gladiators estimated at $20,000/25,000, a large selection of A.E. Crowell decoys and bird carvings, ranging in estimate from $700/1,000 to $6,000/9,000, a cased Perazzi shotgun, estimated at $6,000/8,000, and a scarce Old Town Canoe salesman’s sample model, estimated at $10,000/15,000.

All lots in the Fall Sale can be viewed on Eldred’s website, www.eldreds.com, and a catalog is available to order by mail. Online, phone and absentee bidding are available; in-person bidding options are to be determined. A public exhibition is scheduled for November 17 and 18, and private preview appointments are also available. As Massachusetts advisories pertaining to the spread of COVID-19 could impact bidding options and exhibition schedules, prospective bidders are encouraged to confirm these by calling 508-385-3116 or visiting the website.   

About Eldred’s

The Robert C. Eldred Co. is New England's oldest established antiques and fine arts auction house, now in its third generation of ownership within the Eldred family. In addition to its headquarters on Cape Cod’s historic Old King’s Highway in East Dennis, Mass., the firm also has an office at 5 Roosevelt Avenue in Mystic, Ct. Eldred’s, the nation’s leading marine art auction house, conducts approximately 25 auctions per year encompassing Americana, paintings, Asian art, European decorative art, sporting art and collectibles in addition to marine art. It was recently named one of the top worldwide auction houses by Art + Auction and holds auction records across a wide range of collecting areas.  

For more information please call (508) 385-3116 or email info@eldreds.com. 


Cheryl Stewart
508-385-3116 x128

1483 Route 6a
East Dennis, Massachusetts
About Eldred's

Eldred's is New England's oldest established antiques and fine arts auction house. Approximately 25 auctions are held year-round encompassing Americana, Asian Art, Americana and European paintings, European decorative art, Maritime antiques, and collectibles.

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