350+ ‘private reserve’ artworks heading to market

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Nearly all artists of renown have a private reserve of paintings they display in their own homes but never offer for public sale. Myers Fine Art’s April 7 auction features a connoisseur’s selection of artworks that qualify for this elite category.

Almost every painting, sculpture or work on paper was obtained directly from a noted

Emile A. Gruppe, ‘Shelling Longboat Key,’ 1958, oil on linen, signed, 26in x 30in framed, est. $4,000-$6,000. (Photo courtesy Myers Fine Art).

Emile A. Gruppe, ‘Shelling Longboat Key,’ 1958, oil on linen, signed, 26in x 30in framed, est. $4,000-$6,000. (Photo courtesy Myers Fine Art).

artist’s estate or from the recipient to whom the artwork was gifted or bequeathed. A sizable portion of the fresh-to-market auction trove comes from the estates of New York artists, with the remainder representing private holdings from now-deceased American and European painters. While all schools converge in this sale, with a dateline from the early 17th through early 20th centuries, the selection is “predominantly modern,” said Myers co-owner Mary Dowd.

The largest grouping from a single artist is the collection of 15 works by 1960s abstract minimalist Leon Polk Smith (Native American, 1906-1996). Influenced by Piet Mondrian, Smith’s highly original style is associated with the hard-edge school, of which he is considered a founder.  Among his paintings included in the April 7 sale is a signed 1970 acrylic on shaped canvas painting from Smith’s acclaimed Constellation series. Measuring 19 inches square, it is estimated at $4,000-$6,000. Also, a 31½in diameter oil and collage on canvas titled “Vermilion Black” is signed on verso and carries the inscription “Gift to Bob Jamieson 1956.” It is expected to make $6,000-$9,000.

The legacy of New York artists continues with three quintessential Johann Berthelsen (American, 1883-1972) oil-on-board snow scenes of Manhattan landmarks: Washington Square Park (18¾in x 22¾in sight, est. $4,000-$6,000), the Empire State Building (19 7/8in x 24in sight, est. $4,000-$6,000) and Central Park. Each of the paintings is signed and attractively framed.

Howard Gardiner Cushing’s (American, 1869-1916) signed oil-on-board “Portrait of Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney” depicts the famous New York art patron and museum founder in a fanciful Leon Bakst-designed costume. A pencil notation on the back of the 18in x 13¼in (sight) painting reads, in part, “Bought by Mrs. Delano, 131 E. 36…” It is estimated at $5,000-$7,000.

“It is interesting how the artworks acquired from completely different estates somehow came together in this sale so many years later,” Dowd said. “The ‘Mrs. Delano’ who purchased the Cushing painting was the wife of architect William Adams Delano of the firm Delano & Aldrich. After Howard Cushing died, Mrs. Whitney helped fund a gallery at the Newport Art Museum to memorialize Cushing’s work. Mrs. Whitney’s good friend, William Delano, was chosen to design the gallery.”

Additional pieces to go under the gave include:

  • Gustave Baumann (American, 1881-1971) woodblock print titled “Cholla and Sahuaro.” Pencil-signed with the artist’s chop mark, the 20in x 19in (framed) work is numbered 49/125 and expected to realize $10,000-$15,000 at auction
  • Dramatic oil-on-linen artwork depicting craggy rocks and chilly waters titled “The Cove” by Balcomb Greene, measures 60″ x 54″, is artist signed and estimated at $4,000-$6,000


    Gustave Baumann, ‘Cholla and Sahuaro,’ 18¾” x 22¾” framed, est. $10,000-$15,000. (Photo courtesy Myers Fine Art).

  • Alfonso A. Ossorio’s signed and dated 1952 freeform watercolor titled “Mononucleosis” measures 40″ x 26¼”  and could bring $3,000-$4,000 at auction
  • Joan Miro’s aquatint etching “L’aigrette Rouge,” 64″ x 46″ (framed), is estimated at $10,000-$15,000

Because the April 7 event is Myers’ first specialty fine art sale in more than three years, co-owners Mary Dowd and Michael Myers were both selective and inclusionary in their final choices. The auction features many excellent, fresh-to-market works by lesser-known artists in addition to elusive paintings by avidly collected, high-profile names.

Myers Fine Art’s Sunday, April 7 auction of fine art from New York, American and European artists’ estates will commence at noon Eastern Time. A preview will be held from 10-6 on Saturday, April 6, and from 10 a.m. till noon on auction day. The gallery is located at 1600 4th St. North in St. Petersburg, FL 33704. All forms of bidding will be available, including live via the Internet through LiveAuctioneers.com. For additional information, call 727-823-3249,  e-mail auctions@myersfineart.com or visit www.myersfineart.com.