Estate auction of beloved New Jersey political figure set for Oct. 23

CLOSTER, N.J. – For 16 years, the late John B. McDonald served as chief of staff to New Jersey State Senator Gerald Cardinale. A hands-on “people person,” McDonald immersed himself in the welfare and family activities of Bergen County residents. When not working alongside Senator Cardinale, McDonald was out coaching junior soccer, softball, volleyball and Little League Baseball; or entertaining friends in the inviting, always-open house he shared with his wife Maria. When John McDonald passed away in April, the community felt a deep loss.

The McDonalds’ collections of fine and decorative art, which will be auctioned by Sterling Associates on Oct. 23, reflect the couple’s traditional tastes – from a George Inness landscape to a drop-front desk that five generations of McDonalds used while students at Villanova University.

dore bronze sculpture

Emmanuel Fremiet (French, 1824-1910), dore bronze figural sculpture, signed E. Fremiet. Sterling Associates image

The McDonalds’ fine art collection consisting of 19th-century European and American paintings and sculptures will headline Sterling’s sale. French works include a signed Felix Ziem (1821-1911) oil-on-canvas landscape identified as “St. Peters Rome,” and a dore bronze figural sculpture by Emmanuel Fremiet (1824-1910).

This article originally appeared in Antique Trader magazine

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Other European oils include a signed 1885 Cesare Augusto Detti (Italian, 1847-1914) painting titled “On the River,” and Ladislaus Bakalowicz’s (Polish, 1883-1904) work titled “Archery Practice.” A monumental hunt scene, the oil on canvas titled “The Wolf Hunt” is artist-signed “R. Frentz” (Rudolf Fedorovich Frentz).

Several paintings lead the American art section. A beautiful George Inness (American, 1825-1894) oil-on-canvas landscape influence by the Hudson River school is signed “G Inness.” Displaying the Hudson River Luminism style, Francis Augustus Silva’s (American, 1835-1886) signed oil on canvas – which comes from a different consignor’s collection – depicts Hook Mountain in Nyack, New York. Rounding out the group is a patinated bronze sculpture titled “Child of Peace,” by Edward Fenno Hoffman III (American, 1916-1991). It is stamped on the base “Modern Art Foundry, New York, NY.”

The furniture section includes a round English table, 60-70 inches in diameter, with inlaid top and substantial, scrolled legs; and a burlwood side table with bowed legs simulating bamboo. Both tables are family pieces dating back 80 years. Also long on lineage, a 19th-century country pine drop-front desk with three-drawer chest combination was used by five generations of McDonalds who attended Villanova University, including John McDonald.

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Cesare Augusto Detti

Cesare Augusto Detti (Italian, 1847-1914), ‘On the River,’ oil on canvas, signed C. Detti July ’85.

A wealth of decorative art will be auctioned, including six hand-cut English crystal pitchers and a magnificent, 4-foot tall hand-cut crystal vase. The collection embraces many types of glass, such as ruby, Depression and carnival glass. There are four large porcelain washstand bowl and pitcher sets from Vermont and several American Victorian parlor lamps, each exhibiting a different motif or color scheme.

In addition to the McDonald estate, which is the auction’s centerpiece, Sterling will offer a smaller selection of carefully chosen, compatible antiques and artworks from other New Jersey-area estates and residences.

The auction will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 23, starting at 5 p.m. Eastern Time.

It is structured as a hybrid auction in which previewing is available at the physical gallery, but all bidding is exclusively absentee, by phone or live via or Artfact.

Rudolf Federovich Frentz

Rudolf Federovich Frentz (Russian, 1831-1918), ‘The Wolf Hunt,’ monumental oil on canvas, signed R. Frentz.

“The way our auctions work, all bidding is conducted remotely, but we’re very much a permanent brick-and-mortar company where anyone can come in to inspect the goods,” said Sterling Associates’ owner, Stephen D’Atri. “It will be run exactly like a live auction, but without a live audience.”

The gallery is located at 70 Herbert Ave., Closter, NJ 07624. The live gallery preview will be held on Oct. 17 from 10-7; Oct. 18 and 19 from 10-5; Oct. 22 from 10-7; and on auction day, Wednesday, Oct. 23, from 10-3. Also, preview by appointment only on Sunday, Oct. 20; and Monday, Oct. 21.

Felix Ziem

Felix Ziem (French, 1821-1911), landscape with plaque identifying St. Peters Rome; oil on canvas, signed Felix Ziem.

For information on any item in the auction, to reserve a phone line or to leave an absentee bid, call 201-768-1140 or e-mail View the catalog online at, or on the Sterling Associates website: Internet live bidding is available through or

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