The standing room only crowd at Grogan & Company’s Beacon Hill, Boston gallery was abuzz as President and Chief Auctioneer Michael B. Grogan kicked off the company’s annual Spring Auction at noon on Sunday, May 5. The auction, which totaled over $2,000,000 (including premium), saw widespread bidder interest across collecting categories, with an impressive 36% of lots selling above their high estimate.
The auction began with a bang, as Lot 1, a 48 x 60 in. still life by contemporary American artist Bruce Cohen, sold to a telephone bidder for $12,540 against a $3,000-5,000 estimate. A Mother and Child oil in a hand carved wooden frame by Puerto Rican artist Angel Botello soon followed, hammering for $24,400 against a $5,000-7,000 estimate. The work sold to a couple in the room, who remarked after the sale that they simply had “fallen in love” with the piece. Another happy couple in the room won a brightly colored 84 x 60 in. Sam Francis screenprint for $23,180 (est. $8,000-1,2000.) Also selling in the room for $9,760 against a $1,500-2,500 estimate was a mixed media collage by Gloria Vanderbilt. The happy purchaser had been seeking a Vanderbilt collage since she read about Vanderbilt’s artistic pursuits in 1969.
Examples of works by American artists such as Aldro Hibbard, John Joseph Enneking, Arthur Clifton Goodwin, and Abbott Fuller Graves all performing strongly. Two intriguing portraits of women from the same collection each drew considerable bidder interest. The first, a semi-nude woman set in a Japanesque landscape by American/Armenian artist Hovsep Pushman, sold for $36,600 against a $15,000-30,000 estimate, while the latter, a tranquil interior scene of a woman at a table with flowers by Gari Melchers, also exceeded its $8,000-12,000 estimate, selling for $18,300.
A nude oil by Sir William Russell Flint reaffirmed the market’s appetite for his depictions of women, selling for $48,800 against a $10,000-20,000 estimate, while a charming trio of female musicians by French/Vietnamese artist Vu Cao Dam sold to a Hong Kong buyer for $50,020 ($15,000-30,000). An intimate still life of roses by French artist Eduoard Vuillard drew much excitement from bidders both in the US and Europe, and flew past its $10,000-15,000 estimate, selling for $46,200. The work, which is noted in Salomon and Cogeval’s catalogue raisonne, was recently re-discovered in a New England home.
The top fine art lot of the day was 20 x 30 in. George Inness oil view of the Roman Campagna. The work, which is featured in Michael Quick’s catalogue raisonne, had been in a New England collection since 1940. Prior to entering that collection, the painting was owned by a Boston gentleman and exhibited at the Worcester Art Museum. “Inness’s delicate brushwork creates a misty, atmospheric mood that instantly draws the viewer into the scene. This painting was a sublime example of Inness’ sought-after Italian period,” remarks Fine Art Director Georgina C. Winthrop. The painting, which bore an estimate of $10,000-20,000, ended up selling to a private collector in Chicago for $52,560.
A collection of six works by contemporary Provincetown, MA artist Anne Packard drew much excitement from private collectors, with competing bids flying in from the internet, telephones, and, of course, in the room. Each work well exceeded its pre-sale estimate, with the top Packard lot brining $30,500 against a $7,000-10,000 estimate. Similarly, a collection of Martha’s Vineyard works by Ray Ellis fared well, with a view of Edgartown Lighthouse brining $15,000. Says Winthrop, “Overall, we were very pleased with the level of interest in the fine art offered in The Spring Auction, particularly from private buyers. We saw a continued trend among private buyers toward bright, cheerful, contemporary works, with savvy homeowners competing against each other for most of the top lots of the day.”
The top lot of the day was a platinum, 6.49 ct. Kashmir sapphire, and diamond ring from the collection of a Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts lady. The ring surpassed its $80,000-120,000 estimate and sold for $164,700, proving that sapphires from the Kashmir region of India remain the rarest and most desirable colored stones selling at auction today. Mined in the late 19th century in Indian's mountainous northern region along the Pakistan border, these stones exhibit a characteristic cornflower blue color and velvety quality considered to be superior to sapphires from other regions in the world.
Two additional blue sapphire rings offered in The Spring Auction also exceeded their pre-sale estimates. Both from Burma in Southeast Asia, a 8.65 ct. cushion-cut sapphire and diamond ring sold for $48,800 against a $20,000-30,000 estimate and a 6.52 ct. emerald-cut sapphire and diamond ring sold for $45,750 against a $25,000-35,000 estimate.
Signed period pieces of jewelry garnered interest, competitive bidding, and strong selling prices. A Van Cleef and Arpels gold and diamond brooch in the form of a snow flake from the 1940s sold for $23,180. An Art Nouveau Tiffany & Company gold, enamel, demantoid garnet, diamond, and ruby pendant watch, designed by Paulding Farnham in the 1890s, sold for $15,860. An Art Deco lady's wristwatch by Cartier with a black enamel, coral, and diamond bezel also sold for $15,860. The watch was accompanied by its original, fitted box. Finally, a 1970s pair of gold and carnelian pendant earrings designed by Aldo Cipullo for Cartier flew past their $1,500-2,500 estimate, selling for $10,980.
Silver performed strongly in The Spring Auction, with a 100% sell-through rate. A rare Paul Revere Jr. silver porringer brought $18,300 against a $10,000-20,000 estimate, while a fine Dominick & Haff aesthetic movement silver water pitcher sailed past its $3,000-5,000 estimate, selling for $11,880.
Grogan & Company’s is headquartered in Boston’s historic Beacon Hill, and also has offices in Portland, Maine. For more information, visit groganco.com or call 617.720.2020. Grogan & Company’s next Fine Art auction will be on November 17. All prices include 22% buyer’s premium.
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About Grogan & Company
Established in 1987, Grogan & Company assists the Boston and greater New England community with the sale of their fine art and antiques. Specializing in quality jewelry, fine art, silver, decorative arts, and Oriental carpets, Grogan & Company holds four to six auctions annually featuring items across all collecting genres.