Four phone bidders and dealer Andrew Schoelkopf in the salesroom competed for The Otter Cliffs, Mount Desert Island, Maine by William Trost Richard (1833-1905), 1866, oil on panel-backed canvas, 36Â¼" x 29", signed and dated lower right. Estimated at $40,000/100,000, it sold for $235,600 on the phone. Keno said it had not seen the light of day in 60 years; it was kept in a closet after it was bought at a tag sale in Vermont.
Hendrik Willem Mesdag (Dutch, 1831-1915), Morning Fishing Boats at Anchor, oil on canvas, 24" x 51", signed lower right, inscribed with title affixed to the stretcher, $198,400 (est. $40,000/80,000) to conservator Anna Moody from Amsterdam in the salesroom. She said she was bidding for a dealer from the Netherlands. The proceeds will benefit the Historic Park-McCullough Association in North Bennington, Vermont.
Keno Auctions, New York City
by Lita Solis-Cohen
Photos courtesy Keno Auctions
Leigh Keno's American and European paintings sale on June 12 was his first at his townhouse and company headquarters at 127 East 69th Street in New York City. The exhibition filled the second floor, and the galleries were rearranged to accommodate chairs for nearly 50 people who came to the sale to bid in person. There was a phone bank with half a dozen staffers taking bids and relaying bids from the Internet.
Keno called the sale himself and sold 50 of the 73 lots offered for a total of nearly $1.5 million, about a 70% sold rate. With after sales, the total rose to $1,512,000 and a 73% sold rate. Keno was pleased with his success.
The top lot was a painting of waves crashing against the Otter Cliffs on Mount Desert Island, Maine, by William Trost Richards, dated 1866 (est. $40,000/100,000). It sold for $235,600 (includes buyer's premium) to the most persistent of four phone bidders who competed with New York City dealer Andrew Schoelkopf in the salesroom.
The Otter Cliffs, a 110' high escarpment in Acadia National Park, has been a favorite subject of artists for generations. Keno said the Richards painting was bought at a tag sale in Vermont 60 years ago by the consignor and his father, and it was stored in a closet until it was sent to New York for auction. It was suggested that the crashing waves against the steep cliffs reflected the mood of the country just after the Civil War.
One European painting brought a conservator from Amsterdam to New York City to buy it. Anna Moody spent a day examining Hendrik Willem Mesdag's Morning Fishing Boats at Anchor, a large Hague school oil on canvas painted in 1903. Betty Krulik, Keno's paintings consultant, explained that the Hague school was the Dutch equivalent of the French Barbizon school, known for atmospheric paintings. This painting of fishing boats before the early morning haze had burned off shows the shoreline in the foreground with flat-bottomed fishing boats at anchor.
Mesdag was the first of the artists of the Hague school to settle in The Hague in 1869. The school was known for its "gray mood" paintings. Moody said that cleaning will reveal grays, pinks, and blues, and lining will flatten the crazing. Ignoring the $40,000/80,000 estimate, five phone bidders competed for the painting. It sold for $198,400 to Moody in the salesroom with a cell phone to her ear.
Keno said he is looking for modern and contemporary works for his next auction, which will be a general sale of furniture, decorations, and works of art on October 2.
For more information, contact Keno Auctions at (212) 734-2381 or visit the Web site (www.kenoauctions.com).
David Johnson (1827-1908), Sunset on the Unadilla River, New York, 1856, oil on canvas, 19" x 28 1/8", signed and dated lower left, inscribed and titled on a label affixed to the frame, retains its original frame, $167,400 (est. $50,000/80,000) to a phone bidder, underbid in the salesroom by a dealer.
Five phone bidders, two bidders in the salesroom, and an on-line bidder competed for Mountain Lake with Rocky Shoreline in Autumn by Alexander Lawrie (1828-1917), a 6 7/8" x 8 5/8" oil on panel, signed lower left. An old label on the back reads, "Curtis H. Moyer...Hartford, Connecticut." It sold for $8060 (est. $500/700) to the on-line bidder. "It is a little gem," said a dealer who bid but did not buy it.
Two collectors in the salesroom battled for this Charles Demuth (1883-1935) watercolor and pencil on paper on board, Two Men and a Woman on the Beach, 1912, signed and dated lower right, 8Â½" x 5Â¼". Estimated at $12,000/ 18,000, it sold for $58,280 to collector John McGraw in the salesroom, underbid by a collector sitting in front of him. As an early work, it shows that the artist was a master of the gesture and economical drawing before he spent time in Paris and was exposed to the drawings and watercolors of Matisse and CÃ©zanne.
Hamilton Hamilton (1847-1928), Sierras, a Luminist view, oil on canvas, 18" x 29 7/8", signed and dated 1873 and inscribed indistinctly with the title lower right, $74,400 (est. $20,000/40,000) on the phone. It is a record for the artist.
George Henry Hall (1825-1913), A Plea for Peace, 1861, oil on board, 18Â¾" x 15", signed and dated lower left. Hall painted red, white, and blue flowers in the barrel of a gun just as the Civil War began. According to Leigh Keno, the blue delphinium was used by soldiers to dress wounds; the blue delphinium with the red geranium, red salvia, white hydrangea, and ivy that decorated graves was the artist's clear plea for peace. In 1972 the still life was on loan to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. It sold in January 2012 at Steven Fusco's auction in Cranston, Rhode Island, for $31,625. Bought by a picker who consigned it to Keno five months later, it sold for $86,800 (est. $25,000/45,000) to a phone bidder.
Ilya Bolotowsky (Russian-American, 1907-1981), Geometric Abstraction, 1953, mixed media on cardboard, 7Â½" x 10", signed lower right, $21,080 (est. $3000/5000) to a bidder on the phone.