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American Art and Pennsylvania Impressionists

Lita Solis-Cohen | December 8th, 2013

Fairfield Porter (1907-1975), Morning after a Storm, signed and dated “Fairfield Porter ’73” bottom left, also signed and inscribed with title, medium, dates, and dimensions on the back, oil on board, 18" x 22", sold on the phone for $158,500 (est. $80,000/120,000).

William Trost Richards (1833-1905), A Long Island Beach, signed and dated “WT Richards ’95” bottom left, also titled on the reverse, oil on board, 9" x 13 1/8", sold on the phone for $18,750 (est. $5000/8000) .

Joe Jones (1909-1963), Winter in Dutchess, signed “Joe Jones” bottom left, titled on the reverse, oil on canvas, 24" x 36", circa 1942, sold for $56,250 (est. $20,000/30,000). According to the catalog, Jones, a regionalist and muralist, moved from St. Louis, Missouri, to New York City in 1935 and moved to Wappingers Falls, New York, in the early 1940’s. He celebrated American farm life in this scene depicting farmers at work in Dutchess County, New York.

Fern Isabel Coppedge (1883-1951), Artist’s Studio, Lumberville, signed “Fern I Coppedge” bottom left, oil on canvasboard, 10" x 12", sold for $40,000 (est. $12,000/18,000).

Roy Cleveland Nuse (1885-1975), Hanging Laundry, signed with a monogram and dated “’19” at the bottom right, oil on canvas, 20" x 24", sold for $40,625 (est. $12,000/18,000).

Freeman’s, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Photos courtesy Freeman’s

In early December snowstorm did not keep collectors from attending Freeman’s American art auction on Sunday, December 8, 2013. In addition to a collection of 19th- and early 20th-century landscapes, still lifes, portraits, and some Western art, this sale featured a special group of works by Pennsylvania Impressionists. Of the 183 lots offered, 160 sold, for a total of $2,168,099, toward the high end of expectations; the sale was 87% sold by lot. It was generally a good performance. “There was more participation by collectors, the saleroom was full, many stayed to the very end of the sale, and the phones were busy,” commented auctioneer Alasdair Nichol.

Winter Harmony (Winter Evening) by Pennsylvania Impressionist Edward Willis Redfield sold on the phone to a private collector for $187,000 (including buyer’s premium) and was the top lot of the day. It was estimated at $150,000/250,000. Although there has been some weakness in the market for Pennsylvania Impressionists, prices seemed robust again. George Sotter’s The Neighbor’s House,one of his signature night scenes in the snow, sold for $80,500 (est. $30,000/50,000). Fern Coppedge’s Coaling on the Old Canal far exceeded its $40,000 high estimate and sold for $98,500. Coppedge’s Winter on the River sold on the phonefor $53,125 (est. $25,000/40,000), and her small Artist’s Studio, Lumberville sold for $40,000 (est. $12,000/18,000). Redfield’s A River in Winter went for $59,375 (est. $25,000/40,000). Other Pennsylvania Impressionist works sold within estimates.

Paintings by Pennsylvania Impressionists made up nearly half the sale’s total. Morgan Colt’s painting of a Bucks County field, oil on canvas, 25" x 31", made a record for the artist when it sold to a midwestern collector for $31,250 (est. $15,000/25,000). Works by Colt (1876-1926) are among the rarest by Pennsylvania Impressionists because many of his paintings were destroyed after his death.

Another record was set when a large painting by Frederick DeBourg Richards, The Glory of the Alleghenies, a sweeping vista, sold on the phone for $68,500 (est. $12,000/18,000). It topped the artist’s previous record of $23,100 for The Meadowlands, which was sold at William Doyle Galleries in April 1989.

Fairfield Porter’s Morning after a Storm was a crowd favorite. It topped its estimate ($80,000/120,000) and sold for $158,500. A circa 1942 painting by Joe Jones celebrating farm work in Dutchess County, New York, fetched a respectable $56,250 (est. $20,000/30,000). Jones, who worked in St. Louis, Missouri, before moving to New York, painted several Time magazine covers in 1961.

Still lifes by Lemuel Everett Wilmarth don’t often come to market. His small Still Life with Wrapped Orange sold on the phone for $53,125 (est. $50,000/80,000).

Two pinups by Enoch Bolles were Freeman’s nod to the strong market for American illustration. Pin-up Girl with Mirror sold on the phone for $33,750 (est. $10,000/15,000), and Pin-up Girl with Muff went for $31,250 (est. $8000/12,000). A Jessie Willcox Smith study for a portrait of the children of Mr. and Mrs. Howard Butcher Jr. had a too ambitious estimate ($70,000/100,000), and it failed to sell.

 A collection of 22 Western paintings from the estate of Robert G. Luckie of Tucson, Arizona, mostly by 20th-century artists, some still living, sold for $165,102, well over the estimates. Hopi Future by William Acheff sold for $28,160 (est. $20,000/30,000), and Vagabonds by Kenneth Riley (b. 1919) sold for $17,500 (est. $6000/10,000).

Freeman’s next American art sale will be held in June. Contact Freeman’s at (215) 563-9275 or visit (

Fern Isabel Coppedge, Coaling on the Old Canal, signed “Fern I Coppedge” bottom right, also inscribed “Coaling on the old canal” in pencil on the stretcher, oil on canvas, 14" x 16", sold for $98,500 (est. $25,000/40,000).

George William Sotter (1879-1953), The Neighbor’s House, signed “G.W. Sotter” bottom right, also signed, titled, and labeled “Holicong, PA” on the back, oil on board, 15½" x 19½", sold for $80,500 (est. $30,000/50,000).


Edward Willis Redfield, A River in Winter, signed “E.W. Redfield,” oil on canvas, 20¾" x 25", sold for $59,375 (est. $25,000/40,000).


Frederick DeBourg Richards (1822-1903), The Glory of the Alleghenies, signed and dated “F. Deb Richards 1867” bottom left, oil on canvas, 54" x 84", sold on the phone for a record for the artist, $68,500 (est. $12,000/18,000). The underbidder was in the salesroom.

Originally published in the March 2014 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2014 Maine Antique Digest

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