EAST DENNIS, Mass. – If you were late to Saturday’s session of Eldred’s two-day Spring Sale April 5-6, you missed a few of the day’s most exciting lots, notably a portrait of a Mongolian man attributed to Russian artist Alexandre Yakovlev, just the ninth lot to cross the block that day, which sparked a flurry of bidding and soared past its $4,000-$6,000 estimate to sell for $72,000. The diverse sale, held at the firm’s headquarters in East Dennis, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod, also included historic and political ephemera, Sporting Art and important sculpture.
Fine art sold at auction
The auction session kicked off with four Albrecht Durer (Germany, 1471-1528) etchings, all of which also sailed past their combined $9,100-$12,800 presale estimate to sell for a $40,040 total.
Also coming in the day’s first twelve lots were a bronze of a couple in a winter troika by Evgenii Aleksandrovich Lanceray (France/Russia, 1848-1886), which netted $51,000, and “Accident in a Mine,” an oil on canvas by D.H. Lawrence (United Kingdom, 1885-1930), which sold for $28,800. Lawrence, much better known as a writer, became a painter in his later years. This painting was included in a show of his works at the Warren Gallery in London in 1929, but many of the pieces were deemed extremely controversial and were seized by the police and nearly destroyed. James Joyce and other of Lawrence’s literary contemporaries wrote letters condemning the destruction; Joyce’s letter accompanied this painting.
“The typed note defending Lawrence’s work, signed by fellow author James Joyce, added another layer of interest to this painting,” said Annie Lajoie, the Eldred’s specialist who catalogued the lot. “We were pleased the Lawrence painting achieved this recognition and realized this price – there are virtually no auction records for his artworks.”
The portrait of the Mongolian attributed to Alexandre Yakovlev (Russian Federation/United States, 1887-1938) was painted circa 1918 and purchased by the consignor from the artist’s family in Paris in 1978. At 61” x 25”, the portrait was nearly life-size. It sold to a phone bidder after fierce competition from other phone, online and floor bidders.
The sale’s other top seller was a freestanding woven enameled copper wire basket by Ruth Asawa (California/ North Carolina, 1926-2013), which more than tripled its presale estimate to sell for $72,000. Dating from the 1940s, this was an early example from the artist, who is internationally recognized for these types of wire sculptures. It was exhibited by Sillman and McNair Associates, New Haven, Connecticut, in the fall of 1953 and afterward owned by the gallery owners, one of whom attended Black Mountain College with Asawa.
Other standouts from the day included “Fishing Village, Perkins Cove,” a 24” x 30” oil on canvas view of Ogunquit, Maine, by Charles H. Woodbury (Maine/Massachusetts, 1864-1940), which sold for $24,000, and “Missouri Farm,” an egg tempera by regionalist painter Roger Medearis (California/Missouri, 1920-2001), which settled at $21,600. A brilliantly colored view of Il Molo, Venice, painted by Robert Salmon after he left Boston around 1842, sold for $13,200, and a scene of a captain delighting over a mermaid on a swing by Ralph E. Cahoon Jr. (Massachusetts, 1910-1982), sold over estimate for $7,800.
Historic documents sold at auction
The historic and political documents and ephemera in this auction were all fresh on the market, coming from a variety of private collections. The selections covered an array of material from early American imprints to Civil War-era maps. Highlights include a rare song sheet “Two Favorite Songs Made on the Evacuation of the Town of Boston …,” which sold for $8,400; a 1776 Massachusetts Proclamation of Independence broadside, which brought $19,200; and three 1784-85 journals belonging to Rhode Islander John Francis while conducting business in Haiti, which brought $6,000.
The two top lots were a 1777 pamphlet copy of the Articles of Confederation, a precursor to the U.S. Constitution, which netted $36,000, and a collection of maps and pamphlets pertaining to the annexation of Texas, which sold for $26,400.
Garnering the most attention prior to the sale was a rare 1862 gameboard with portraits of presidents and generals published by the National Chess & Checker Board. It sold online for $2,040.
Highlights of the antiques auction
Rounding out the sale were antique furniture and clocks, silver, Oriental rugs, ethnographic art, marine art and sporting art. Top sellers include a rare, nearly life-size circa 1930 carving of a snowy egret by A. Elmer Crowell (East Harwich, Massachusetts, 1862-1952), purchased directly from Crowell by the consignor’s father. It sold for $48,000. Two Oushak rugs sold for a combined $6,120, a Riley & Whiting tall-case clock with a sponge-painted case brought $2,760, and an oversize silver-plated lighthouse cocktail shaker netted $2,520.
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All images courtesy of Eldred's.
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