Purchase Story

American Art at Bonhams

Bonhams, New York City

Photos courtesy Bonhams

Bonhams held its American art sale on November 20, 2017, the Monday of Thanksgiving week, and a small crowd gathered on the second floor of the Madison Avenue auction house to bid on the 71 lots that were offered. The sale totaled $1,294,750, and the sell-through rate was 61.9%.

The top lot of the sale was Dogtown by Marsden Hartley (1877-1943), painted in 1931, which sold for $262,500 to a bidder on the phone with head of sale Liz Goodridge. The 18" x 24" oil on board, property from a New York collection, had an estimate of $200,000/300,000. Signed and inscribed, the work had last sold at Sotheby’s in New York City on November 28, 2001, lot 121, for $181,750 with an estimate of $150,000/250,000. Born in Lewiston, Maine, Hartley returned to the New England area after taking residency in Europe from 1921 to 1930. His “Dogtown” landscapes depict a small locale called Dogtown Common, outside Gloucester on Cape Ann in Massachusetts.

Green and Purple Grapes in a Basket by Marsden Hartley (1877-1943), painted in 1928 when the artist was living in Aix-en-Provence, France, sold to a phone bidder for $115,000. The 20¼" x 241/8" oil on canvas had an estimate of $100,000/150,000 and was property from a New York collection. Bonhams had a financial interest in the painting. It had last sold at Sotheby’s in New York City on November 28, 2007, lot 34, for $289,000, with an estimate of $150,000/250,000.

Two paintings by Marsden Hartley (1877-1943) garnered the top prices of the sale. Dogtown, painted in 1931, sold with buyer’s premium for $262,500 (est. $200,000/300,000) to a bidder on the phone with Liz Goodridge, new head of sale at Bonhams New York. Green and Purple Grapes in a Basket, painted in 1928 and estimated at $100,000/150,000, sold for $115,000 to a different phone bidder. Bonhams had a financial interest in both oil paintings.

The cover lot of the catalog, Maxfield Parrish’s Study for Janion’s Maple (Under Summer Skies), was withdrawn from the sale.

Five oil paintings by Wolf Kahn (b. 1927) were offered, and all sold. The artist sold well in Christie’s American art sale also; in fact, an auction record was set when Kahn’s Lagoon Scene, 1994, sold in Christie’s November 14-21 online sale for $162,500 (est. $15,000/25,000).

Imaginary Beaver Pond by Wolf Kahn (b. 1927) went for $52,500 to a phone bidder who also bought three other works in the sale by Kahn. The 533/8" x 80½" oil on canvas, signed, inscribed with the title, and numbered and dated “#140 1984,” had an estimate of $30,000/50,000. Three phone bidders went after it.

At Bonhams, Wolf Kahn’s Imaginary Beaver Pond, the last lot of the auction, sold to a phone bidder for $52,500 (est. $30,000/50,000). The same bidder bought Kahn’s Ground Fog for $16,250 (est. $10,000/15,000) and two other works that appeared at the beginning of the sale. Two Barns at Dawn sold for $31,250 (est. $25,000/35,000), and Old Mill went for $8750 (est. $8000/12,000). The fifth painting, East Penobscot Bay, sold to a bidder on the phone with specialist Alan Fausel for $33,750 (est. $20,000/30,000).

The captions illustrate the sale. Bonhams will hold its next American art auction in May. Further information is available at (www.bonhams.com).

The Bobsled by Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009) painted in 1937, signed, estimated at $60,000/80,000, sold to a phone bidder for $62,500. According to the catalog, the gouache, watercolor, and pencil on paper was painted outside the home of Forrest Wall in Tenants Harbor, Maine. It will be included in Betsy James Wyeth’s forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the artist’s work. The Bobsled had last sold at Sotheby’s in New York City on November 28, 2007, lot 75, for $85,000 (est. $70,000/90,000).

East Penobscot Bay by Wolf Kahn (b. 1927), signed, inscribed with the title, and dated and numbered “1961-3,” oil on canvas, 50" x 50", sold to a bidder on the phone with specialist Alan Fausel for $33,750 (est. $20,000/30,000).

There was interest on the phone and from an absentee bidder for Mother and Children by John Biggers (1924-2001). Signed and dated “Biggers / 1956,” the charcoal on paperboard, 355/8" x 21¼", sold for $22,500 to the absentee bidder. The drawing was property from the estate of Maxine Marshall. It had an estimate of $7000/10,000.

Arthur Dove (1880-1946) painted Centerport Series #8 in 1941. It sold for $25,000 to a bidder on the phone with specialist Alan Fausel. The watercolor on paper laid down on board, 47/8" x 7", with the inscription “Dove per WCD,” had an estimate of $20,000/30,000. It had last sold at Christie’s in New York City on May 25, 2006, lot 41, for $48,000, with the same estimate.

Emil Carlsen (1848-1932) painted Side Running Sea circa 1909. The 25¼" x 30¼" oil on canvas sold to a phone bidder for $22,500 (est. $15,000/25,000). The painting had remained in the artist’s family until 1975. The work is recorded in the Emil Carlsen archives as number 3962.

First Spring Thaw, On the Delaware by Edward Willis Redfield (1869-1965), signed, 38¼" x 50", sold for $81,250 to a bidder on the phone with head of sale Liz Goodridge. The oil on canvas was property from the George Gund III Trust, San Francisco, California, and had an estimate of $60,000/80,000.

Shooting the Rapids by Philip Russell Goodwin (1881-1935), 20" x 30", sold to a phone bidder for $81,250 (est. $40,000/60,000). The signed oil on canvas, dated 1908, came from a private collection in Virginia. The work served as an illustration for the 1909 annual calendar produced by the Marine National Bank of Buffalo, New York, according to Bonhams’ catalog.


Originally published in the March 2018 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2018 Maine Antique Digest

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