Morgan Rank Collection of Folk Art & Musical Instruments and 19th Century Paintings Highlight Eldred's Summer Americana & Paintings Auction

  • EAST DENNIS, Massachusetts
  • /
  • July 25, 2014

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Jane Stuart (attr.) portrait of George Washington after her father Gilbert Stuart's 1806 masterpiece.

The Robert C. Eldred Co. is excited to announce its flagship Summer Americana & Paintings Auction, being held July 30 through August 1, 2014, will feature the Morgan Rank Collection of Folk Art and Musical Instruments. Mr. Rank had operated an eponymous gallery in East Hampton, New York, from the 1970s through 2001.


Highlights from this one-of-a-kind collection include an impressive Tramp Art secretary, an exceptional Black Americana fiddle carved in the form of “Sambo”, a pair of Moravian wedding chairs, early Outsider art, a papier-mâché cigar store Indian, and five Amish or Mennonite carved figures. More than half of the 239 lots in the collection are unique handcrafted musical instruments. Mr. Rank amassed his collection during frequent travels across the United States, discovering spectacular pieces of American folk art in southern diners where he had stopped to grab a meal or at midwestern farmhouses where he paused to ask directions. The genre was especially appealing to him, he says, because of the ingenious craftsmanship exhibited in so many of the pieces. Many of the musical instruments in the collection, for instance, are made from cigar boxes, tin cans, matchsticks and other everyday materials.


The auction also features more than 250 paintings, including many from important 19th Century American artists. The cover lot of the auction catalog is a portrait of George Washington attributed to Jane Stuart (1812-1888), a copy of her father Gilbert Stuart’s 1806 masterpiece that hangs in Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. The consignor, who inherited the painting from her father, recalls him hanging it up to mark President’s Day sales at his well-known shoe store in Boston.


Bostonians would also recognize Lot 1325 as the First Church of Christ, Scientist. This depiction by John Joseph Enneking was commissioned by Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, in 1906, following a recent expansion of the “Mother Church”. She paid Enneking $10,000 for his work, an enormous sum at the time and probably the largest commission he ever received. The painting up for auction was Enneking’s first rendering; the second rendering still hangs in the Mother’s Room at the church.

John Joseph Enneking's view of the Boston's First Church of Christ, Scientist.


Jasper Cropsey’s “Interior of an English Cathedral”, James Fairman’s “Adieu to the Land”, his National Academy exhibition entry following his return to the U.S. in 1881 after ten years in Europe, an Albert Bierstadt view of Niagara, and a sill life of peonies by William McGregor Paxton are some of the other notable works also being offered.


Also included are more than 50 lots of sterling silver including a circa 1730 Irish silver coffeepot, a wide array of decoys and sporting art, approximately 80 Oriental rugs, antique furniture, pottery and porcelain, and much more.

Tramp Art Secretary, part of the Morgan Rank Collection of Folk Art & Musical Instruments.


The auction will take place at the company’s main facility located at 1483 Route 6A, in East Dennis, Massachusetts. Interested bidders can visit for a complete sale listing and to register to bid via phone, absentee bid or online. Those wishing to bid live in the audience may register at the offices the day of the auction.


The Robert C. Eldred Co., New England's oldest established antiques and fine arts auction house, holds approximately 25 auctions per year encompassing Americana, paintings, Asian art, European decorative art, maritime antiques and collectibles. It was recently named one of the top auction houses in North America by Blouin Art Info.


For more information about the Morgan Rank Collection of Folk Art and Musical Instruments, the Summer Americana and Paintings auction or the Robert C. Eldred Company, please call (508) 385-3116.  

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