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Gallery records prove invaluable for provenance

Gallery records confirm the history of two 19th century paintings, by Americans who studied in Europe, and lay the foundation for growing attraction of these pieces as they headline the Fine Art Summer Auction offered by Witherell's Antiques, July 9-23.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Two paintings by 19th century Americans who studied in Europe will highlight Witherell’s Antiques and Fine Art Summer Auction to be held from July 9-23, 2014.

When an estate dealer brought two paintings to owner Brian Witherell, the identity of the works was not known. With Vose Galleries’ name incised on the frame, Witherell hoped the century-old gallery would be able to trace their provenance.


“Courtship Days” by B.J. Blommers

Using a four-digit inventory number, the gallery was able to identify the artist, title and purchase date of both. “Our archives from this period are sparse, but I was able to find some information in our ledgers,” said Catharine Holmes, Vose Galleries assistant.

Vose Galleries were founded in 1841 and some records go back to 1866. Said Holmes, “People contact us every day about paintings in our records. As long as the owner of the painting has access to the inventory number on the back stretcher bar of the painting, or can provide us with the artist name and title, we can usually unearth some interesting tidbits, although we never release personal client information.”

Vose Galleries purchased Frank Duveneck’s “Reflections” from artist Theodore Wendel and sold it to a private collection in December 1922. In a Carrig-Rohane frame No. 3061, the 17-by-19-inch painting bears Vose Galleries Inventory No. 5873.
Born in 1848 in Covington, Kentucky, Frank Duveneck went abroad to study in 1869 at the Royal Academy of Munich, where he became one of the young American painters. By starting a new movement using a more realistic style of painting, he helped overturn the Hudson River School that was in vogue at the time. In 1878 Duveneck opened a school in Munich with students known as the “Duveneck Boys.”


"Reflections" by Frank Duveneck may fetch between $5,000 and $10,000 during the Fine Art Summer Auction at Witherell's. (Photo courtesy Witherell's.

“Courtship Days” by B.J. Blommers is another highlight of the summer auction that also was identified by Vose Galleries. The 18 1/2 by 14 1/2-inch painting is in Carrig-Rohane frame No. 2382 with Vose Galleries Inventory Number 5200. Born in The Hague in 1845, Blommers was a successful painter of genre scenes such as fishermen and their wives. The pieces are estimated at $5,000 to $10,000 each.

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