William Bradford’s ‘The Whaleship Speedwell’ brings $248,000

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William Bradford
‘s (American, 1823-1892) “The Whaleship Speedwell of Fairhaven Outward Bound off Gay Head” unsigned oil on canvas sold for a breathtaking $248,000 against a presale estimate of $100,000 to $200,000 in Skinner, Inc.’s March 6 auction of American Furniture and Decorative Arts.

The 1853 work, measuring 24 inches by 36 inches, was accompanied by the “Speedwell’s” daybook, kept by Benjamin J. Gibbs, master, dated Sept. 1, 1857, through Feb. 5, 1861, the ship’s final voyage. The painting descended in the family of Benjamin J. Gibbs, the ship’s first and only master.

The auction house condition report stated “There are some areas of retouch to sky between sails and on sails, sparsely scattered specks of retouch in sky; a fabric strip has been applied with staples around the tacking edge. The painting was cleaned in 2002.”

Skinner, Inc. has two galleries – 63 Park Plaza in Boston’s Back Bay; the other, about 40 minutes west of the city, at 274 Cedar Hill Street, Marlborough, Mass.

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