Purchase Story

American Paintings, Furniture, and Decorative Arts at Auction

Doyle New York, New York City

Photos courtesy Doyle

Doyle New York has a loyal fan base for its semiannual American paintings, furniture, and decorative arts auctions. Its salesroom at 175 East 87th Street in Manhattan fills up a few minutes before the 10 a.m. start time with interested buyers, including a few dealers. A majority of the sales, however, are made on the phone. The October 4, 2017, auction at its gallery totaled $913,875 with an 87% sell-through rate. Art contributed approximately $535,000; furniture, $209,000; and silver, $169,000.

The top lot of the sale was View of Cuba, 1860, by Edmund Darch Lewis (1835-1910) with an estimate of $25,000/35,000, which sold to a phone bidder for $53,175 (includes buyer’s premium). The oil painting last sold for $31,250 (est. $25,000/35,000) at Sotheby’s November 18 and 19, 2008, Latin American art auction.


Edmund Darch Lewis (1835-1910) was a native Philadelphian and a commercially successful landscape painter. His 30" x 43 7/8" oil on canvas View of Cuba, signed and dated 1860, was the top lot of the auction, selling for $53,175 (est. $25,000/35,000) to a phone bidder. It last sold for $31,250 (est. $25,000/35,000) at Sotheby’s November 18 and 19, 2008, auction of Latin American art.

The 2017 Doyle fall sale included almost two dozen paintings and one sculpture “formerly in the inventory of Berry-Hill Galleries, New York [City],” according to the auction catalog. Anne Cohen DePietro, director of American art at Doyle, declined to comment on the matter. Berry-Hill Galleries is out of business.

In other news, Doyle has increased its buyer’s premium rates effective October 15, 2017. Sotheby’s and Christie’s had raised their rates in September. Doyle’s new rate is 25% on the first $300,000 of the hammer price of each lot, 20% on the portion of the hammer price from $300,001 through $3 million, and 12.5% thereafter. In addition, Doyle has removed the 4% fee to online buyers using its BidLive! website; those bidders, however, will still be charged the buyer’s premium.

Summing up the offerings in the fall sale of American paintings, DePietro said, “It’s a sale about art and collecting, about poets and painters.”

For example, Delaware River, 1860-63, by George Inness had a provenance that included the artist John F. Kensett, while Henry Inman’s Rydal Water, 1844, had been inspired by a visit to Rydal Mount, the home of the English poet William Wordsworth. Two works by Kensett—one an oil on canvas, the other a drawing on paper—had been owned by Anne H. and John K. Howat; the latter was curator of American paintings and sculpture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and then chairman of its American Wing.


Delaware River by George Inness (1825-1894), an 8¼" x 10" signed oil on canvas, sold to a phone bidder for $25,000 (est. $8000/12,000). The painting’s long provenance includes the artist John F. Kensett, who owned it until his death in 1872. It then went to his niece Elizabeth N. Kellogg of Brooklyn, New York. A 1913 letter from Miss Kellogg to New York gallery owner George H. Ainslie accompanied the lot, as did a letter from Dr. Michael Quick, who authenticated the work for Doyle and dated it to about 1860-63.


Levi Wells Prentice (1851-1935) painted Blue Mountain Lake, Adirondacks in 1873. It sold to an online bidder for $23,750 (est. $6000/8000). The signed and dated 18" x 35" oil on canvas came from property formerly in the inventory of Berry-Hill Galleries, New York City, now defunct.

The silver section had offerings from the Colonial period through the Belle Époque, including pieces by Boston silversmith John Coney and Kentucky silversmith George W. Stewart. Also featured were Martelé silver by Gorham and a selection of early 20th-century Tiffany tea and coffee services.

The photographs and captions illustrate the sale. For more information, contact Doyle at (212) 427-2735; website (www.doyle.com).


This Gorham Martelé sterling silver loving cup with three loop handles, circa 1905, chased with grapevines and clusters on a hammered surface, 9½" high and weighing approximately 74 troy ounces, sold for $25,000 (est. $5000/7000) to a person who had left a bid with the auctioneer. One of only 180 Martelé loving cups made (Martelé production began in 1900 and stopped in 1912), the cup had been presented in 1907 to John D. Slayback, an investment banker on Wall Street, by the Washington Square Methodist Episcopal Church in New York City for his decades of service.


Two phone bidders chased this circa 1687 American silver two-handled cup by John Coney of Boston. Originally owned by the First Church, Salem, Massachusetts, the 5 1/8" high cup with two later scrolled handles sold for $16,250 (est. $10,000/15,000) to a phone bidder. It is one of five beakers commissioned in 1687 by the First Church.


This circa 1845 silver monteith by Kentucky silversmith George W. Stewart sold for $28,125 (est. $4000/6000) to a bidder on the phone with silver specialist Todd Sell. Chased all over with flowers, thistles, and foliage in figural scenes, the 10" diameter monteith has a pedestal foot and a removable scalloped crown, and it weighs approximately 39 troy ounces.

Stewart opened his business in 1843 in Lexington, Kentucky, after training in New York City. The monteith had been presented to William Moses Brand (1803-1845) by his mother, Eliza Haigh Brand, whose husband, John Brand, made his fortune in hemp bagging. It had descended through seven generations in the original family and came from the estate of Eleanor Johnson.


Tree Study, Franconia Notch, 1850, by John Frederick Kensett (1816-1872), graphite pencil on buff paper laid to light card, sold to a phone bidder for $8125 (est. $1500/2500). The 13¾" x 9 7/8" drawing came from the estate of Anne H. and John K. Howat. The drawing will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné being prepared under the direction of Dr. John Driscoll.

The other work by Kensett in the sale (not shown), Seascape with Figures (Seascape), 1861, a 6 3/8" x 10" oil on canvas, also from the Howat estate, did not sell (est. $80,000/130,000); the painting was passed at $32,500. John K. Howat was the Lawrence A. Fleischman Chairman of the Departments of American Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and was its curator emeritus.


Mangbetu Woman by Richmond Barthé (1901-1989), an 8 3/16" high signed and painted plaster sculpture, sold for $8125 (est. $2500/3500) to a phone bidder. The sculpture had been purchased directly from the artist by Charlotte M. Rubinow of Newark, New Jersey, and then it descended in the family.


This 3 3/8" x 7¼" oil on paper laid on board by Jasper Francis Cropsey (1823-1900), Study of the Ramapo River, 1876, elicited interest from two bidders on the phones and one who had left a bid with the auctioneer. It sold to one of the phone bidders for $13,750 (est. $3000/5000). The painting was documented by Dr. Kenneth W. Maddox, art historian at the Newington-Cropsey Foundation.


This pair of Chippendale mahogany parcel-gilt mirrors, circa 1775, with scrolled pediments centering a phoenix, 57½" high x 29¾" wide, sold for $10,000 (est. $6000/9000). The mirrors and 41 other lots were from a New York City private collector.


The pair of 9¼" high Chinese export porcelain famille rose covered jardinières, 19th century, each of flared and faceted form with rope-twist handles, sold for $2500 (est. $400/600) to dealer Paul Vandekar of Earle D. Vandekar of Knightsbridge Inc., Maryknoll, New York, who was bidding in the salesroom and bought many lots. The jardinières have a Ginsburg & Levy, New York City, provenance.


This set of six Federal mahogany lyre-back side chairs, New York, early 19th century, each 32½" high x 18¼" wide x 16½" deep, sold on the phone for $8750 (est. $4000/6000). The property of a New York City private collector, the chairs have a provenance that includes Bernard & S. Dean Levy, Inc., New York City.


This early 19th-century Federal inlaid mahogany tall-case clock, attributed to John Scudder of Westfield, New Jersey, sold for $7500 (est. $4000/6000) to a person who had left a bid with the auctioneer. Measuring 7'11½" high x 17" wide x 9½" deep , the clock features elliptical inlays and a circular panel in the base.


Originally published in the January 2018 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2017 Maine Antique Digest

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