GENESEO, N.Y. – A truly sublime painting titled Singing Beach & Eagle Rock, Magnolia, Massachusetts by American landscape artist John Frederick Kensett (1816-1872), was the top lot in Cottone Auctions’ Fine Art, Antiques and Clock auction held on Saturday, September 18th. The painting saw trade competition into the high six figures, and easily surpassed its estimate, selling to a private collector by phone for $1.08 million. Overall, the sale grossed $3.7 million.
The Kensett painting was purchased in 1955 by Mrs. Adrian Smith (formerly Lusyd Wright Keating) of Buffalo, New York, from Victor D. Spark of New York, and bequested to her daughter Cynthia Doolittle in 1971. It was previously twice exhibited at the Albright Knox Art Gallery, first in 1958 and again in 1983.
“It has been a privilege to market the painting,” said Matt Cottone of Cottone Auctions. “I was pleased for our consignor – the Doolittles – who could have sent their things anywhere but gave us the opportunity.”
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.”
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’.”
There were also many outstanding lamps in the auction. These were led by a rare Tiffany Studios elaborate Peony lamp on a telescopic library base with a 22-inch shade ($390,000); a fine Tiffany Studios Dragonfly table lamp on a reticulated Indian base with a 20-inch shade ($153,600); a Tiffany Studios, Lily Pad table lamp on a twisted vine base with a 20-inch shade ($127,200); a Tiffany Studios Bamboo table lamp with a 16-inch shade ($136,800); and a rare Duffner and Kimberly Poppy floor lamp on a renaissance floor base ($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, New York 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, which 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 ($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 ($18,600).
For more information about Cottone Auctions and the firm’s calendar of upcoming auction events, please visit www.cottoneauctions.com; or, call (585) 243-1000.
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About Cottone Auctions
Cottone Auctions is a full-service auction company based in Geneseo, New York.