Thomas Worthington Whittredge river landscape brings $18,000 at American and European Continental antiques auction

Strong interest across the board and much activity was received in all categories of Litchfield County Auctions’ July 20, 2011 American and English and Continental paintings, furniture and decorations auction.

Sterling Silver Flatware

Paintings, American and Continental furniture, decorations, Americana, folk art, and silver stood at the top of the list.  Selling close to 85 percent of the lots offered in the sale, many items grossed well above their high estimate and received a high number of bids.
The top selling lot was by American artist Thomas Worthington Whittredge (1820-1910) a river landscape with hunter and dog, which sold for $18,000 after 17 bids.

Following that lead was a rare and complete 24-panel set of scenic wallpaper, the ‘El Dorado’ suite designed by Joseph Fuchs for Zuber et Cie, dating to the Mid-20th century. The El Dorado series was produced by Zuber in 1849, and was so popular that it was re-issued in 100 sets every two years until about 1870. It continued in production, and is still available today, retailing in the range of $60,000. This set hammered at $16,260 and came from the estate of a Stamford, Conn., interior designer. The third most valuable lot in the sale was one that received a tremendous amount of interest – a musical automaton figure of a French or Swiss writer, dating to the third quarter of the 19th century. With a pre-sale estimate of $700-1,000, it sold for $13,800, receiving a whopping 56 bids before it finally closed out after a bidding war and lot extension of 42 minutes.

Scale Train Model of the Empire State Express No. 999, sold for $4,359
This scale train model of the Empire State Express No. 999 sold for $4,359.

Some fine examples of American cabinetmaking included a Classical carved, gilded and ebonized pier table, attributed to Anthony Quervelle of Philadelphia, and previously owned by Andy Warhol, circa 1820, which sold for $7,320, more than tripling its starting bid. A Chippendale Cherrywood Bonnet-top Chest-on-Chest from the Concord area of Massachusettes, circa 1760-1780, sold at a bid of $9,075. Continental furniture highlights included a North Italian carved walnut Cassone from the 16th or 17th century, which sold after 12 bids for $4,323; and a Hispano-Moresque ‘Vargueno’ writing cabinet, datign to the first half 17th century, which sold at $4,080 after receiving 15 bids.

Decorative objects in the sale included a Neoclassical style gilt metal and clear glass six-light chandelier which sold for $12,900 with 27 bids; a sterling silver champagne pail by Tiffany and Co., circa 1854-1869, selling for $11,700, far surpassing its starting bid of $1,950 after receiving 20 bids. A near pair of 19th century monumental carved limestone romanesque style jardinieres sold for $6,240; a tabriz carpet, circa 1900, sold at a bid of $5,520; and six 19th century Continental carved wood cherubs sold for $3,420 after 23 bids, far exceeding the presale estimate of $3-500.

One very unusual lot in the sale was a Victorian automatic crystal table fountain by Tufts, circa 1870-1880.  These luxury table fountains were designed to spray water 8 inches into the air, making quite a showing as the centerpiece at a formal Victorian table setting. It sold for $5,400 after receiving 18 bids. Another item which received a great deal of interest was a scale train model of the Empire State Express No. 999, which was one of three made for the 1929 New York City World’s Fair, and was reputedly on exhibit there in the New York Train booth. It sold for $4,359 after receiving 15 bids.

Also standing out in the sale was a grouping of more than 30 carved decoys in the form of game birds and fish.  The price ‘flew away’ on one special decoy of a Merganser drake, carved and paint decorated by Nate Frazier, N.J., circa 1900, which sold for $2,220 with 19 bids. Others also sold well in the range of $100-$700 apiece. 

Other highlights in the Americana section included a group of wallpapered hat boxes selling for $3,240; a full-bodied gilt and painted copper rooster weathervane, attributed to Thomas W. Jones, N.Y., circa 1870, sold for $2,700; and a 19th century carved and painted folk art lion which sold for $1,622. There were also some surprises found in the book section of the sale, most notably an eight-volume set of The Plays of William Shakespeare, London 1837, which sold for $1,680 after 24 bids. 

Artwork was also a strong section in this auction, with a nice grouping of Old Master paintings, together with some strong American Landscapes and Portraits. Highlights included: a river landscape by William McDougal Hart, circa 1860’s, which sold for $9,300, nearly doubling its starting bid; a Venetian scene by Warren W. Sheppard, American, 1882-1937, that sold at the opening bid of $5,850; a handsome portrait of a gentleman by Samuel F.B. (Finley Breese) Morse (American, 1791-1872) sold for $6,240; while other works sold with great interest included artists such as: Eric Sloane, Frank Alfred Bicknell, Thomas Bigelow Craig, Irving Sinclair, William Trost Richards, a work attributed to Susan Waters; two drypoint etchings by Mary Cassatt; along with works in Manner of Giovanni Antonio Canaletto, After Bernard Van Orley, Circle of Francesco Zucarelli, a painting of Madonna of the Chair After Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino and others.

All in all, 698 of the 832 lots received bids for a total of more than $618,000, of a sale which had a presale estimate of $500,000 to 800,000. The simultaneous tag sale held in conjunction with a weekend auction preview accounted for approximately $38,000 of this total, and more than 1,000 items which were sold. In this sale, held on, there were 3121 online bids placed in the auction, with more than 250 winning bidders hailing from 29 different states and nine foreign countries: Austria, Australia, Canada, Ireland, Netherlands, Spain, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

Litchfield County Auctions is accepting consignments for future sales. Their upcoming sale in October will feature 20th century modern art and design, Asian art and antiques, and ethnographic art and antiquities.

The following sale will be held over Thanksgiving weekend and will host estate and fine jewelry and vintage and couture clothing and accessories, together with books and historical documents. To consign an item, visit  Litchfield County Auctions.

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