Rare swan decoy may earn $120K in wildlife art auction

BOSTON – Following the success of last year’s inaugural Winter Sale of wildlife art, Copley Fine Art Auctions, LLC is returning to New York City for their premier American art event. Held in conjunction with Keno Auctions, the Winter Sale marks the start of Americana Week on Jan. 16, 2012, in Wallace Hall at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola on Park Avenue. This major sale of sporting and wildlife art includes over 500 lots of paintings, prints, decoys, duck calls, fish carvings, rods, reels, Navajo blankets, Nantucket baskets, folk art, and over 300 books from a sporting library.

Charles Birch rare swan decoy  Charles Birch (1867-1956), Swan, Willis Wharf, Va. Estimate: $90,000-$120,000. Photo courtesy Copley Fine Art Auctions

After a stellar performance at the July 2011 Sporting Sale, Copley has assembled several significant collections containing outstanding decoy and decorative bird carvings. Among the most important decoys offered is a Charles Birch (1867-1956) swan ($90,000-$120,000). This graceful carving is not only one of the maker’s best, but one of the finest swan decoys known to exist.

Copley will offer numerous works by East Harwich maker A. E. Crowell (1862-1952), including a complete set of 25 miniature waterfowl ($100,000-$150,000). In addition to the diverse selection of over seventy miniatures, several full size birds will cross the auction block. Among them are two outstanding decorative shorebirds, a preening greater yellowlegs ($40,000-$60,000) and a preening curlew ($60,000-$90,000).

Another notable lot, consigned by a direct descendant of John Blair, includes a swimming bluebill drake ($20,000-$40,000) by John Blair, Jr. (1881-1953) and John Blair Sr.’s (1843-1929) Belgian side-by-side, muzzle loading, eight gauge shotgun.

Alexander Pope waiting for its master  Alexander Pope, Jr. (1849-1924), Waiting for its Master, Oil on canvas, 36.5 by 30.5 inches, Estimate: $100,000-$200,000.

Birds from the Mason Decoy Factory (1896-1924) are well represented, with offerings including a pair of premier grade mallards ($50,000-$70,000) from the coveted “G.K. Schmidt” rig.

Among a number of important late additions to the sale are a high-head pintail hen ($50,000-$70,000) from the Kankakee marsh and a three-piece Dexter/Gardener (Dr. Clarence T. Gardner, 1844-1907 and Newton Dexter, d. 1901) Willet ($40,000-$60,000).

In part two of the sale a stately oil of moose by Carl Clemens Moritz Rungius (1869-1959) titled “In the Cedar Swamp” ($150,000-$250,000) aims to follow the success Copley saw with other works by the artist in its 2010 Sporting Sale, when they sold five oils out of the H. Wendell Endicott Rungius collection for a total of $1.34 million. A large Louis Agassiz Fuertes (1874-1927) depiction of wild turkey ($20,000-$40,000), perhaps the most important painting by the artist to be offered at auction, is one of the premier depictions of this North American game bird ever to come to market.

“Waiting for its Master” ($100,000-$200,000), a canine painting by Alexander Pope Jr. (1849-1924), is among the artist’s finest achievements and is another of Copley’s highlights.

For more information contact Aimee Stashak-Moore at 617-536-0030.

Copley Fine Art Auctions, LLC is located at 268 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02116.


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