Folk art portrait’s $1.2M bid breaks auction record

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A rare 18th century portrait of Abigail Rose, of North Branford, Conn., sold Nov. 5, 2011 for $1,271,000. Photo courtesy Skinner, Inc.

BOSTON, Mass. – A rare 18th century portrait of Abigail Rose, of North Branford, Conn., sold for $1,271,000 Nov. 5, 2011, breaking a record for the most expensive folk art portrait ever sold at auction. The painting, from 1786, depicts a fourteen-year-old Abigail seated in a Queen Anne chair next to a table on which rests a group of books and a Battersea patchbox.

The portrait was sold by Skinner, Inc., as part of its American Furniture and Decorative Arts auction, which brought $2.9 million. The portrait broke the previous record for American folk art portraiture, set in January of 2007, and is one of three folk art portraits to have passed the million dollar mark at auction.

The asymmetrical composition is unique for the time period. Well-preserved, in original condition, and not seen publicly since the 1930s, the portrait descended through the family of the sitter.

According to Stephen Fletcher, Director of American Furniture and Decorative Arts at Skinner, “I knew the portrait of Abigail Rose had potential, as it is the finest early American folk portrait offered here at Skinner in 40 years. There were a couple of quiet predictions in the trade that the picture might well bring a million dollars, and we were delighted that it brought a record-setting price.”

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