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Remington Drawings Tower over Thomaston Sale

Mark Sisco | November 9th, 2013


Thomas Hart Benton lithograph, Wreck of the Ol’ 97, Associated American Artists 1944 edition, $11,500. Thomaston Place photo.


Two Frederic Remington ink drawings were the high lots of the sale. Shown is Sun Fisher, which brought $166,750. Not shown, A Running Bucker, which finished at $184,000.


This original 11" x 8½" unframed ink drawing on card stock of the Statue of Liberty by Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997) sold over the estimate for $12,650.


A large 34½" x 78" floral hooked Waldoboro hearth rug with sprays of carnation-like flowers and oak leaves on a background of shades of brown. Dating from the late 19th or early 20th century, it had been exhibited at the American Textile History Museum in Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1999 as part of the Barrie and Michael Pribyl collection. Here it fetched $8050, well above the $3500/4500 estimate. Thomaston Place photo.

Thomaston Place Auction Galleries, Thomaston, Maine

The Thomaston Place Auction Galleries sale on November 9 and 10, 2013, in Thomaston, Maine, contained two six-figure superstars. Only about 260 of the nearly 1100 lots offered failed to find new owners, and there were some key misfires, but two Frederic Remington drawings blew away their estimates.

The two runaways were ink drawings by legendary Western artist, illustrator, and sculptor Frederic Remington (1861-1909). Simple as they were, the drawings evinced a dynamic realism that was a hallmark of Remington’s work. Both had been laid down on board panels and were framed in later walnut frames. Sun Fisher, drawn on board with gouache clouds, was signed lower right and marked with an 1890 copyright for Davis & Sanford, but it wasn’t published until 1895. It sailed past the $20,000/30,000 estimate and finally settled in for a commanding $166,750 (with buyer’s premium). The second,  A Running Bucker, also carried a Davis & Sanford copyright but with an 1895 date. That one eclipsed the first, finishing at a sale-leading $184,000. According to Thomaston’s general manager Bob Grant, they had both been purchased by the consignor’s grandfather directly from Remington, and both went to the same Montana buyer.

An oil on canvas of the bark Western Belle by Massachusetts marine artist Charles Sidney Raleigh (1830-1925) showed the ship with her sails shredded by a violent gale. Raleigh was a self-taught artist who “lived his art.” He went to sea at the age of ten and later served in the American Navy and as a merchant seaman. The painting was accompanied by a handwritten journal titled World Travels of George E. Kuhnast, which recorded the voyage of the Belle from Gloucester to Nagasaki, Japan in 1888 and 1889 under Captain P.F. Butman. The ship was built in Bath, Maine, in 1876. I was able to locate numerous records of the ship and captain in those years. In a gilt Victorian gesso frame, the painting sold for $8050 (est. $5000/7000).

The rape of Europa is a scene that has been painted scores of times. It depicts the story of a Phoenician woman being carried away by the Greek god Zeus in the form of a white bull. This 20" x 25½" painting was attributed to Flemish artist Hendrik van Balen (c. 1575-1632). The signature and date in the lower right were listed in the catalog as “Aoverts/ 1610.” A close inspection of the signature seems to indicate that it may have been a partial monogram for “Goverts,” possibly indicating a relatively unheralded Dutch artist, Dirck Govertsz (1571-1643). Regardless of who painted it, someone was confident enough to shell out $5750 for it, against an $8000/12,000 estimate.

The original painting of the Wreck of the Ol’ 97 is one of Thomas Hart Benton’s best-known works. It captured the competition between the industrialization of the American West and the conflicting midwestern rural tradition. Here, a Benton lithograph from the 1944 Associated American Artists limited edition of 250 was signed in pencil lower right. It sold for $11,500, well over the $5000/7000 estimate.

For more information, visit (www.thomastonauction.com) or call (207) 354-8141.

It’s hard to tell if there was one particular piece in this collection of eleven 19th-century nautical charts that drove the lot past the $2000/3000 estimate all the way to $10,350. Makers included E. & G. W. Blunt, George Eldridge, J. S. Hobbs, W. H. C. Riggs, and others. Locations ranged from the Caribbean to Massachusetts, and the publication dates ran from 1842 to 1856. Thomaston Place photo.

This ancient stone bas-relief tablet of the Madonna and Child probably dated to 13th-century Siena, Italy. The catalog related that it resembled a similar panel above the Blue Pool at Peto Gardens, Iford Manor, Wiltshire, England that was brought from Siena by the architect and landscape gardener Harold Ainsworth Peto, who lived at Iford from 1899 to 1933. The one here sold for $9200 (est. $3000/5000). Thomaston Place photo.

This 18th- or 19th-century Chinese white jade seated Quanyin sculpture, 5 5/8" tall, is next to a child in a prayerful pose. It nosed just over the low estimate to sell for $12,075.

There seems to be no information available on an artist named L. G. Lamur, no dates, no nationality, or anything. An Internet search turned up only a few sales records reported in the low hundreds of dollars. So what made this 20th-century 30" x 24½" oil on canvas portrait of a young girl combing her hair worth an estimate of $15,000/20,000, and what made someone pay $21,850 for it? Obviously someone knew something about it. “We did the research on it and came up with the same thing you did,” Bob Grant of Thomaston Place confirmed, adding that it had been offered previously at James D. Julia’s with a $26,000/30,000 estimate, but it didn’t sell. “Kaja [Veilleux] looked at it and said, ‘This is one whale of a painting,’ so Julia took a shot at it, and so did we.” The bottom line is that there are at least two people out there who know who did it or perhaps they just fell in love with it.


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

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