One-day survey of American history in Brunk auction Nov. 14

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Attention history lovers: Brunk Auctions is offering a one-day survey of America from the 18th to the 20th century on Nov. 14. It comes cleverly disguised as an auction.

In terms of record-setting potential, few items in the sale compare to Grandmother’s House We Go by self-taught artist Grandma Moses (Anna Mary Robertson Moses, New York and Virginia, 1860-1961). Her 1940 painting depicts a family in a horse-drawn sleigh crossing a bridge over a frozen stream with ice skaters in the foreground and a snow covered valley in the distance. Grandmother’s cottage with smoke billowing from the chimney lies ahead on the right. The painting is inscribed front middle and verso. The 19 1/8-inch by 23 1/8-inch oil with mica flakes on Masonite in a hand-carved wood frame has been in the consignor’s family for the past 50 years.

A label verso shows a price of $50 for Grandmother’s House We Go. Grandma Moses may have entered the painting in a local competition for prize money in 1940. She was then 80 years old. The painting predates her first exhibition at the Galerie St. Etienne in New York City. Expect more than $50 Nov. 14; a 1950 Grandma Moses summer scene Country Fair sold in May 2009 at Sotheby’s New York for $1,082,500.

“There is a genuine charm and honesty to the work of Grandma Moses,” said Andrew Brunk at Brunk Auctions. “She captured rural America as we wanted it remembered.”

Grandmother’s House is conservatively estimated at $60,000 to $90,000. The painting, once part of the personal collection of artist Leon Salter, is #24 in the 1973 Grandma Moses catalog raisonné by Hildegard Bachert and Otto Kallir.

George Washington dominated the War of Independence and he rules the central portion of Brunk’s November sale. The 29 Washington lots range from a bust and political banner to portraits and a lock of the general’s hair (estimate $400-$800). The most notable is a signed and dated letter from Washington to Sam Hodgdon of Philadelphia. Dated, “Mount Vernon Decr. 29th. 83.” In the letter Washington requested compensation for the late arrival of a stagecoach bringing important papers to his home. The 9-inch by 15 3/4-inch hand-written letter on laid paper is estimated at $10,000 to $20,000.

Also Washington-related is a pine traveling desk dated 1812 for the Washington Benevolent Society, a fraternity that operated secretly in support of the Federalists (estimate $8,000-$10,000). The desk includes an engraved portrait of George Washington inside the lid. The desk and Hodgdon letter come from the estate of the late William and Priscilla Carlebach of Mystic, Conn., and Bedford, N.Y.

From this same historical period is the autograph of Benjamin Franklin to a document pertaining to Peter Stephen du Poncheau. Franklin signed the notary public certificate as president of the Supreme Executive Council of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (estimate $3,000-$6,000).

Charles Willson Peale (1741-1829) painted portraits of America’s founders among them George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and John Hancock. The Peale painting in Brunk’s November sale is more personal. The half portrait of Edward Burd (1751-1853) was painted for Peale’s daughter-in-law, who was Burd’s niece. The circa 1820 oil on canvas, once listed as “unlocated,” descended in the families of Rubens Peale and Anthony Morris (estimate $40,000-$60,000).

Items from the Civil War focus on our sixteenth president: a portrait of Abraham Lincoln by G. V. Cooper, circa 1865 (estimate $12,000-$16,000) and a Lincoln-signed presidential appointment from 1862 (estimate $3,000-$5,000).

Tiffany Studios, New York City, was a leader in the late 19th and early 20th century American decorative arts. Among the studio’s elegant creations was a six-socket floor lamp on a circular cushion base with a serpentine band of acorns around the a glass domed shade. The acorn lamp in the sale is estimated at $30,000-$50,000. Also from Tiffany Studios is a 22 3/4-inch diameter dogwood stained glass shade (estimate $20,000-$30,000). Two Tiffany Favrile lots – a vase with pink nasturtiums and a lava vase – carry identical $8,000-$15,000 estimates.

Brunk Auctions is located at 117 Tunnel Road, Asheville, N.C. For more information, visit or call 828-254-6846.

Photos courtesy Brunk Auctions.


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