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Demand for Cape Ann art drives lot past $15,000

Cape Ann art, Native American carved folk art, silver, and maritime art all finished strong during Eldred's November Americana and Paintings Auction.
Gruppe "Unloading the Nets"

“Unloading the Nets,” by Emile Albert Gruppe, which nearly doubled its low estimate, finishing at $15,600. (All photos courtesy Eldred's)

EAST DENNIS, Mass. – The top lot in Eldred’s three-day Americana and Paintings Auction was a carved wooden beaver-form bowl. The piece brought $42,000, vastly surpassing its very conservative pre-sale estimate. In addition to American Native items, the sale included nearly 1,200 lots of paintings, including sought-after Cape Ann art. Plus, maritime art, furniture, sporting art, silver, and folk art. The sale took place in November.

Speaking of the Northwest Coastal bowl, Bill Bourne, vice president of the firm, reflected on the piece. “I loved it when it came in. It’s a rare piece with great patina and unusual form, and it brought an incredibly good price.”

Appeal of Cape Ann art

“Unloading the Nets” and "Church Gloucester were top lots. The first example of Cape Ann art was a 30 inch by 36 inch oil on canvas of nets, by Emile Albert Gruppe (Mass., 1896-1978). It sold for $15,600. This was above the $8,000 to $12,000 pre-sale estimate. “Church Gloucester” by Max Kuehne (New York/Germany, 1880-1968) sold within estimate for $9,600.

“We continue to see a strong demand for Cape Ann art, as evidenced by the Gruppe,” said Joshua Eldred, company president and head of the fine arts department. “But I was particularly pleased to see a lot of active bidding and sale prices on many of the furniture lots.”

Furniture highlights include a circa 1830 pier table. The piece is possibly from New York. It sold for $5,700 on a $1,500 to $2,000 estimate. A 1760 Queen Anne Highboy sold within estimate for $2,500. An assembled set of D.R. Dimes Windsor-style chairs sold for $2,200. This was more than triple the pre-sale estimate.

Sale of Fine Art Benefits Medical School

The sale also included 50 lots from the Jack Lichtenstein Collection of paintings and prints, including

Carved wooden bowl

Northwest Coastal carved wooden beaver-form bowl, which brought $42,000.

Cape Ann examples. Lots from this collection were auctioned to benefit the Lichtenstein Family Endowment for Hepatology. The endowment is at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Highlights from the expansive collection included five prints by Thomas Hart Benton. It sold for a combined $10,600. “Funeral” by Frank Stella from the “Moby Dick Domes” series brought $11,400. “The Entertainer” by Robert Longo sold for $2,000. Two paintings by Provincetown artist Henry Hensche brought $2,600 and $3,250.

Other top paintings include a charming genre painting by Charles Drew Cahoon (Cape Cod, 1861-1951) depicting a young boy watching an older gentleman repair his windmill toy, which brought $13,200 on a $6,000 to $9,000 estimate, a Dutch landscape by George Hitchcock (American/Continental, 1850-1913), which doubled its estimate, selling for $6,600, and “Mother and Child – A Study from Nature” by Benjamin West (American/English, 1738-1820), which soared past its estimate to finish at $5,400. A collection of five carved and painted wooden dogs by folk artist Moise Potvin (Canadian/American, 1876-1948), from a private Rhode Island collection, sold within estimate for $5,400.

Provenance of Boat-Building Family Prevalent

Another highlight from the sale was a 19th Century Chinese view of the Hongs at Cann with Spanish, American, English and Dutch flags, which sold for $21,600 to a phone bidder. The painting retained a label marked “Brought from China by Anson Burlingame Minister to China” and its provenance included the noted Herreshoff boat building family. The painting was one of the centerpieces of the maritime art section of the auction, which also included 74 lots items from the Howland Scrimshaw Collection. A whalebone busk with three vignettes of women sold for $8,400, one of the highest grossing lots from the collection, which was comprised primarily of utilitarian items like swifts, rolling pins and sewing implements. Pre-sale estimates on the collection ranged from $100 to $200 for a set of dominoes to $4,000 to $6,000 for the busk.

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