Daniel Garber (1880-1958), Spring Planting, Stony Ridge, circa 1947, signed lower left and titled and inscribed on the stretcher, oil on canvas, 25" x 30", $242,500 (est. $200,000/ 250,000).
Valley Landscape by John Frederick Kensett (1816-1872), monogrammed and dated "JFK '53," oil on canvas, oval, 13Â¼" x 10", $37,500 (est. $20,000/30,000) to a Connecticut dealer who said he would keep it for his own collection. The painting hung in the Trenton Falls Hotel in New York state until 1895 when it was given to Frederick Gouge, an architect in Utica, New York, and then it descended in the Gouge family.
Bonhams, New York City
by Lita Solis-Cohen
Photos courtesy Bonhams
Bonhams in New York City offered middle-market American paintings on May 15, and the market was spotty. Of the 109 pictures offered, 65 sold for a total of $1.2 million (includes buyers' premiums). The total fell below the $1.5/2.6 million presale estimate, and the sale was 59.6% sold by lot.
There were some successes. Daniel Garber's Spring Planting, Stony Ridge, circa 1947, sold for $242,500 (est. $200,000/ 250,000). An early portrait by George Bellows, inspired by Spanish 17th-century portraits, fetched $62,500 (est. $70,000/90,000). Condition kept its price down. A two-sided John Marin watercolor of New York City with a tug sold to New York City dealer Debra Force for $47,500 (est. $15,000/ 25,000). Force also bought a small (8" x 10") Anthony Thieme painting of a dock at Rockport, oil on paperboard, for $8125 (est. $6000/7000). It is a little gem filled with expressive color that turns paint into water, boats, and sails.
A collector paid $37,500 (est. $20,000/30,000) for Valley Landscape by John Frederick Kensett, a small (13Â¼" x 10") oval oil on canvas view in Trenton Falls, New York. The collector said he had waited a long time to find a Kensett he could afford. A LeRoy Neiman painting of Saint-Germain-des-PrÃ©s, Paris, fetched $50,000 (est. $12,000/18,000).
Dealers and collectors always check out Bonhams for discoveries. At this sale there was a view of Lake Winnipesaukee by John S. Blunt, a Portsmouth, New Hampshire, painter whose work was collected by Nina Fletcher Little and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller. Several pictures by Blunt are illustrated in Little by Little (1984); a pair of portraits attributed to Blunt is at the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum at Colonial Williamsburg; and at the Henry Ford Museum in Michigan is a double portrait of children from the Torrey family, Fitchburg, Massachusetts, that is attributed to Blunt.
Brooklyn dealer Steven S. Powers bought the landscape with cows grazing on a hill with views of the lake and a farmhouse, signed "J.S. Blunt PINX/ 1822," 21" x 26", for $16,250, well over its $6000/8000 estimate. The underbidder was a collector in the salesroom. Powers recognized the scene as Lake Winnipesaukee and said he thought he got a bargain.
Blunt's landscapes are rare. Once called the Borden Limner, Blunt was identified by Robert Bishop in a November 1977 article in The Magazine Antiques. The article illustrated portraits, a moonlit landscape, a portrait of a cow named Symmetry, and some painted fire buckets attributed to Blunt.
Dealers said the small number of paintings offeredonly 60 at Sotheby's, 100 at Christie's, and 109 at Bonhamsdeterred some collectors from making the trip to New York City from afar. The sales were fairly well attended; passionate collectors were in the salesroom and on the phones. The open houses at galleries during "Just off Madison" on Wednesday night were crowded but mostly with New Yorkers, who seemed to enjoy the revived tradition of visiting galleries, a practice that went out with the growth of the Internet where collectors can browse gallery Web sites daily.
"Just off Madison," the Wednesday evening gallery stroll, has become as much a tradition as the receptions at Christie's on Monday night and at Sotheby's on Tuesday night during the week of American paintings sales. For two weeks a year collectors and art lovers discover there is no substitute for standing in front of a picture or a sculpture.
For more information, contact Bonhams at (212) 644-9001; Web site (www.bonhams.com).
George Bellows (1882-1925), Portrait of Prosper Invernizzi, 1907, signed lower left and possibly dated upper right, oil on canvas, 38" x 30", $62,500 (est. $70,000/90,000). Condition kept the price down. Invernizzi was a fellow student at the New York School of Art. It is one of Bellows's first portraits, from a time when he was not known as a figure painter.
This oil on canvas by John S. Blunt (1798-1835) of cows grazing on a hillside with a view of a lake and farmhouse, signed, inscribed, and dated "J.S. Blunt PINX/ 1822" lower left, 21" x 26", sold for $16,250 (est. $6000/8000) to Brooklyn dealer Steven S. Powers in the salesroom, underbid by a private collector in the salesroom. "Blunt worked in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, died early at sea, and is known for portraits painted after 1825 that are moody and mysterious," said Powers. "I think his landscapes are exceptional. They tend to be his early works, and this is one of the earliest. It is of Lake Winnipesaukee. Blunt advertised it in an exhibition of his paintings in Portsmouth in 1828 and again when he showed it in an exhibition in Boston in 1835. I think it was the sleeper in the sale; Blunt's landscapes are rare."
John Marin, a sketch of the Brooklyn Bridge, 1925, signed and dated, pencil on paper, 11" x 8 3/8", $6000 (est. $2000/3000).
LeRoy Neiman (1921-2012), Saint-Germain-des-PrÃ©s, signed and inscribed lower right and titled and signed on the reverse, acrylic on masonite, 24 3/8" x 36Â¼", $50,000 (est. $12,000/ 18,000).
Autumn Landscape by Robert Reid (1862-1929), signed indistinctly lower left, oil on canvas, 26" x 29", $32,500 (est. $12,000/18,000) on the phone.
Jervis McEntee (1828-1891), figures by a river in an autumn landscape, oil on canvas, 16 1/8" x 28 1/8", $25,000 (est. $8000/12,000) to a phone bidder.
John Marin (1870-1953), New York City with Tugboat, a two-sided work signed lower right, watercolor and pencil on paper, 9Â½" x 8", $47,500 (est. $15,000/25,000) to Debra Force in the salesroom.